Monthly Archives: July 2015

Kenya: Kwale Residents Fault Balala on New Miner

STAR REPORTER

28th July 2015

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, during a press conference at a Hotel in Mombasa on 28th April, with him are MTN managing director Tom Omariba (L) and Osman Varwani  .photo Elkana Jacob

Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, during a press conference at a Hotel in Mombasa on 28th April, with him are MTN managing director Tom Omariba (L) and Osman Varwani. Photo Elkana Jacob

 

NINE Kwale residents have given the Mining ministry a seven-day notice to revoke the licence of a firm seeking to explore mineral sands in the county or face legal action.

The nine have accused the firm, Supreme Resources Kenya, of forging their consent to prospect for minerals in their land prior to application for the special licence.

Locals claim Balala cleared the firm to conduct mineral sand exploration in Msambweni, Matuga and Lunga Lunga sub-counties without consultations.

In a notice of objection to the Commissioner of Mines, through L.A Oketch and Company Advocates, the locals want Cabinet secretary Najib Balala to explain his interests in the company, claiming he is a close ally to one of its directors.

“We hereby inform you that our clients indeed object to the grant of the said special licence and the said mining exploration project as a whole,” reads the letter by the law firm.

“We have given the ministry seven days to de-gazette the company the same way they gazetted it,” said Matthias Mutua of Mivumoni-Msambweni on behalf of residents.

Kwale mining executive Ali Mafimbo said the county government was also not consulted.

“We agree with the community. The process should have involved them and the Kwale leadership,” said Mafimbo on phone.

The company however maintains that it had consulted locals on the project.

“I don’t want to comment more since the issue is taking a legal way,” Yusuf Murigu, one of the directors told the Star.

The company was registered on July 24, 2014 according to the registrar of companies.

Apart from Murigi, other directors include Leila Kibwana and Sri Lankan Sohan Saminda Koralalage who is the majority shareholder.

Documents seen by the Star show Supreme’s prospecting licence was filed with the ministry on January 9 and its application published in a Kenya Gazette notice number 2428 of April 10, 2015.

The company is to prospect an area covering 108.65 kilometers, a cadastre map shows.

Murigu was in 2010 appointed to the Kenya Tourism Development Corporation under gazette Notice 3218 of April 1, by Balala when he was the Tourism minister.

The two are also officials at the Kenya-Arab Friendship Society.

Balala could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered.

He had however told the Star in an earlier interview, that his ministry had stopped the process.

SOURCE: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/kwale-residents-fault-balala-new-miner

Canada: We need to better regulate Canadian companies abroad

SOURCE: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/we-need-to-better-regulate-canadian-companies-abroad/article25670371/

Africa: Obama’s Last Chance in Africa

If he wants to save his legacy on Africa, Barack Obama will have to be more than a shill for U.S. security firms and corporations.

By Francis Njubi Nesbitt, July 22, 2015.

obama-africa-visit

(Photo: US Army Africa / Flickr)

President Obama needs to unveil a new foreign policy initiative on Africa during his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia or risk going down in history as the worst president for Africa in recent memory.

It would be a shame if the first American president of African descent ranks last in meaningful engagement with Africa when compared to other presidents in the recent past. Although both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton came under intense criticism for doing nothing in the face of genocide and war crimes, they were able to recover somewhat by launching signature initiatives during their second terms.

During his first term, Bill Clinton pulled out of Somalia in a spectacular debacle immortalized in the Hollywood movie Black Hawk Down and then refused to intervene in Rwanda, standing by as tens of thousands were slain during one of the worst outbursts of fratricidal violence in the 20th century. During his second term, however, Clinton launched a series of health and development initiatives that partially mitigated his failures in Somalia and Rwanda. His Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) helped double U.S. trade with the region and triple U.S. exports estimated at $22 billion in 2012.

George W. Bush was excoriated for ignoring war crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur. Yet today he’s remembered on the continent for a health initiative known as PEPFAR, which has been credited with saving thousands of lives and transforming the treatment of AIDS in Africa. The Bush administration also played a significant role in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a brutal 30-year war and led to the relatively peaceful separation of Sudan and South Sudan.

Shrinking Expectations

Africans were elated when Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008. Expectations were understandably high after eight years of the Bush administration’s version of gunboat diplomacy. Obama increased those expectations during his 2009 trip to Ghana and Egypt when he promised to transform U.S. relations with Africa and the Middle East.

The glimmer of hope soon faded into the distance as Obama doubled down on Bush’s policies. Like his predecessor, he saw Africa through a national security prism that focused on terrorism and counterterrorism. He expanded the reach of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and increased the use of drones to assassinate alleged leaders of terrorist organizations. The continued militarization of U.S. foreign policy on the continent is reflected in a 2014 initiative called the Security Governance Initiative for Africa, which proposes combining economic and military policies to create a secure environment for U.S. investors.

This continued emphasis on military solutions was mostly ineffective and counterproductive. The NATO-led invasion of Libya, for instance, destabilized the region, turning Libya and Mali into terrorist havens and strengthening terrorist organizations such as Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. In Somalia, drone strikes and support for regional “peacekeeping” forces degraded the capabilities of al-Shabaab within Somalia but has yet to tackle the task of state- and institution-building. The group continues to export terror in East Africa and exacerbate the region’s refugee problem. Meanwhile, Washington has maintained strong bilateral relations with Egypt despite the brutal tactics deployed against pro-democracy activists by the country’s strongman, president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Missed Opportunities

The Obama administration failed to ride the wave of optimism about African economic development in international business circles. While Obama was focused on the terror threat, other countries were forging strong economic ties with Africa.

China overtook the United States in 2009 as Africa’s main trading partner. Brazil, India, and even Turkey expanded their presence on the African scene, filling the space previously occupied by Africa’s traditional trading partners in the United States and Europe. These countries recognized the opportunities represented in Africa’s economic growth over the last two decades. They appreciated that Africa has the fastest growing economies in the world, a burgeoning middle class, and a youthful educated population. They forged partnerships with states and private sector investors that have revitalized Africa’s infrastructure and stimulated exponential growth.

Despite these setbacks, Obama reiterated his pledge to transform U.S. relations with Africa during his 2013 trip to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. His solution seemed to be a shift toward the Clinton administration’s emphasis on entrepreneurship and trade. He touted his administration’s Power Africa initiative to deliver electricity to millions (albeit often via fossil fuels), a scholarship program for young leaders, and continued efforts to combat AIDS and other infectious diseases. He expanded Clinton’s Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and pledged to hold the largest White House summit on Africa ever. Once again this initiative echoes Clinton’s Africa-America summits held periodically during the 1990s.

During the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the president announced a $7 billion package designed to promote U.S. exports and trade deals and $14 billion in pledges from U.S. corporations. Obama evoked the Africa Rising mantra, praising the assembled heads of state for “embracing economic reforms [and] attracting record levels of investment.” He extolled the continent for its record economic growth, its growing middle class, and youthful population. He promised a new “partnership of equals” focused on African goals and solutions. “Africa’s rise,” he said, means “an opportunity to transform the relationship between the United States and Africa.”

Despite the positive rhetoric, analysts saw the summit as little more than “business as usual.” According to Emira Woods of ThoughtWorks, a technology firm committed to social and economic justice: “If there is business as usual, we will continue to have a situation where people on whose land resources lie will be pushed further and further to the brink, left without health care, housing, education, or any means of benefiting.”

Woods’ caution is confirmed by a comment by a key organizer of the summit, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who let slip the real motivations behind the summit: “We kind of gave Africa to the Europeans first and to the Chinese later, but today it’s wide open for us.” The goal, therefore, is to help U.S. corporations compete effectively in the scramble for African resources. The positive rhetoric about “partnership of equals” and “African goals and solutions” serves as a cover for looting Africa’s resources.

The Legacy Trip

Given these setbacks, the current trip represents a last chance for the president to fulfill his transformative agenda. The president is expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders in Kenya and Ethiopia, address the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, and meet with African Union leaders in Addis Ababa. According to a press release from the White House, the trip “will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit” and continue efforts to “accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security.”

Obama has definitely stepped up his engagement with Africa during his second term. He visited three countries in 2013 and announced visits to Kenya and Ethiopia in 2015. He hosted of 40 heads of state and government in 2014 and announced billions of dollars in financing to promote U.S. corporate interests in Africa. He held bilateral talks with Nigeria’s newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari on July 20. He’s also expanded trade and health initiatives started by his predecessors. Channeling predecessors’ achievements, however, does not make for an inspiring foreign policy.

Contrast this record with that of former Chinese premier Hu Jintao, who visited Africa five times — and covered 18 countries — between 2009 and 2012. His successor, Xi Jinping, signified Africa’s importance by visiting the continent on his first trip abroad. During that trip, he pledged $20 billion in loans to African countries over the next three years, in addition to signing deals to build ports in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Republic of the Congo. In 2014, China announced that it was increasing the loan guarantees by an additional $10 billion.

The Chinese president has already hosted dozens of African heads of state during a high-level summit held every three years since 2000. The Sixth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is scheduled for South Africa this year, where China is expected to announce new loans guarantees and infrastructure projects.

The charm offensive is calculated to garner support for China’s economic interests, which have grown exponentially since the 1990s. China increased its trade and investment in Africa by 1,000 percent between 2000 and 2010. This trade is driven, for the most part, by China’s need for raw materials to feed its industries. In return, China has helped transform many African countries with its infrastructure projects. Chinese firms are building hundreds of roads, bridges, ports, and airports across the continent. Bilateral trade with African countries was an estimated $198 billion last year. U.S. trade lags behind at $100 billion.

Breaking Out

How can Obama break out and make a lasting impression in this competitive environment? Does the United States have a special message for Africa?

Although the United States cannot compete with China in the volume of trade and the scale of infrastructure investments, the president still has some political capital that he can deploy on the continent. To succeed, he’ll have to push back against his image as a shill for security firms and corporate interests.

His Power Africa initiative is to be commended, but it has yet to deliver electricity two years after he announced that the program would double electricity access in Africa over the next five years. The project is still too closely associated with the corporate profit agenda to make a real difference.

There’s nothing wrong with corporations seeking profits: That’s what they do. Private investment for profit, however, cannot form the basis for long-term partnerships for African development. Chinese firms, for instance, are able to invest in long-term infrastructure development projects because they’re financed by the government and are not seeking immediate returns on investments. Transforming U.S. relations with Africa, therefore, requires imagining different means and alternative ends.

Obama has, so far, failed to break out of the mold of security- and corporate-based foreign policy. A truly transformative policy would find a way of engaging the vigorous civil society movements on the continent, including environmental and peace movements.

Kenya, for instance, is the home of the Greenbelt Movement founded by the late Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. Members are encouraged to replace trees they use for firewood and other domestic needs. Since 1977, the movement has planted over 51 million trees to replace forest cover in Kenya. Greenbelt is an excellent example of a grassroots indigenous movement that mobilizes women’s groups to empower women and girls, promote democracy, and build sustainable lifestyles. The United States could back these efforts by seeking creative financing involving innovative ideas such as carbon exchanges, renewable energy certificates, and other inventive solutions.

The United States could lead the way in crafting international regulations that curb the awful land grabs that are destroying the lives of millions of indigenous people in Ethiopia and other African countries. In Ethiopia, for instance, indigenous people are losing their livelihoods, and in many cases their lives, to multinational agribusiness corporations. It is critical that the international community put pressure on governments to protect the rights of indigenous people. Unfortunately, Obama’s agriculture initiatives continue to emphasize the profit motive at the expense of the environment and the interests of indigenous people.

Increasing U.S. engagement with the burgeoning peace movements on the continent would be commendable. Advocates for peace have long contended that Africa’s myriad conflicts cannot be resolved by military means. Only a political solution that deals with root causes can facilitate dialogue and set the stage for meaningful conflict management. In the case of Somalia, for instance, U.S.-backed government forces and African Union peacekeepers have degraded al-Shabaab but failed to lay the groundwork for the transition to democracy and state-building that are critical for long-term stability.

If even George W. Bush could break out of the mold of U.S. foreign policy and build a unique legacy in U.S. relations with Africa, surely Obama can do the same in his remaining time in office.

Foreign Policy in Focus contributor Francis Njubi Nesbitt is a professor of Africana Studies at San Diego State University. He is the author of Race for Sanctions and has published numerous book chapters and articles in academic journals.

SOURCE: http://fpif.org/obamas-last-chance-in-africa/

 

Canada: What will convince Ottawa to rein in Canadian companies?

Gregory Regaignon, North America Researcher & Research Director, and Emily Kaufman, Research Intern, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Ejido la Sierrita protest again Excellon Resources, Mexico - credit: Cencos (Mexico)

Canada recently told a UN committee that the government’s human rights duties don’t include regulating its companies overseas. Canadian companies’ records suggest that it should.

What can make a country realize that voluntary measures to stop its companies from involvement in human rights abuses abroad aren’t working?

Lawsuits from affected community members against mining companies?

A report on clothing companies’ inaction after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,100 people?

A company implicated in censorship abroad that would violate the country’s own Constitution?

Incredulity from the UN Human Rights Committee about the government’s unwillingness to hold the country’s companies accountable?

Would all of these together convince a government to take stronger steps for corporate accountability?

In the case of Canada, apparently not.

Canada faced intense scrutiny from the UN Human Rights Committee earlier this month. The Committee expressed concerns over Canada’s approach to impacts of Canadian companies operating abroad.  Committee members responded with dismay to Canada’s assertion that it has obligations to protect human rights of Canadians in Canada, but not to regulate overseas actions of Canadian companies.   One panel member retorted, “A country could not just provide corporate identity to a company and then be unperturbed by whatever the company could do around the world.”

Why is Canada so important?

In some sectors, Canada is dominant out of proportion to its size in the global economy.  According to the government, “over 50% of the world’s publically listed exploration and mining companies [are] headquartered in Canada” (2013 figures).

In Mexico for example, a majority of mining projects with foreign investment include Canadian companies.   These have a decidedly mixed record.  For example, Excellon Resources has been in a long conflict with Ejido la Sierrita over compensation.  Canadian embassy officials allegedly protected the company by cooperating with the company’s call for the Mexican Government to intervene; police and army forces then forcefully broke up the community’s protest, according to United Steelworkers and other groups.  The Canadian Government denied wrongdoing, and Excellon denied calling in government forces.

In Ixtacamaxtitlán, local indigenous people have filed a lawsuit against Almaden Minerals, claiming its concession ignored their land rights.  The local Tiyat Tlali council and community members told Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) that when company officials arrived, they “said they would only drill five holes, now they have drilled more than 1000.”

Canadian companies’ importance is also visible in the largest global database of companies’ impacts on human rights.  BHRRC has invited companies to respond to allegations of abuse over 2000 times in the last decade.  Controlling for the size of their economies, Canada’s companies have faced over 50% more allegations of abuse than companies based in G7 peer nations such as France, Germany and the United States.

The Canadian Government has launched initiatives aiming to address the extractive industry’s impacts.  The Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor, established in 2009, is mandated to conduct voluntary mediation of communities’ complaints against companies.

But recently, the position of CSR Counsellor was left unfilled for over a year after the previous counsellor resigned. The office has not publicly reported any activity for over two years.

In the garment industry, too, Canadian companies have fallen short. After the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, many companies in the clothing sector sought to mitigate risk in their supply chains by signing commitments to prevent further tragedies.

According to a 2015 SHARE Investors brief, of major publicly-traded Canadian apparel companies only one, Loblaw, signed the binding Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Three major companies joined a separate, non-binding initiative, but notably LuluLemon, Gildan, and Reitmans have signed neither agreement.

Kevin Thomas, Director of Shareholder Management at SHARE, suggests:

“Canada could support accountability in the global apparel industry by establishing minimum labour standards for preferential tariffs, and for the government’s own apparel orders. Unlike the USA or EU, Canada provides duty-free access to products from developing countries without requirements for labour standards compliance and no mechanism for complaint or review.

“These measures are not anti-business; they support Canada’s apparel industry by promoting sustainable solutions to overseas worker rights risks and reduce uncertainty for investors.”

In the tech industry, Canadian company Netsweeper reportedly provides software to the Pakistan Government for censorship of the internet, including limiting content from independent news sources and human rights organizations.

The Canadian Constitution prohibits such limits on freedom of expression in Canada. David Petrasek, professor at the University of Ottawa, has said, “Legal action against Netsweeper may not be possible, but for the Canadian government to refuse even to make the moral case for disengagement amounts to condoning censorship abroad that would be illegal at home.”

Still, Canada’s reaction to the Human Rights Committee is surprising given some recent government actions.   In late 2014 it announced guidance and a clear policy expectation that extractive companies would abide by the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and other norms.  The government also announced penalties if companies refuse to participate in the government’s mechanisms to resolve communities’ and workers’ complaints.

Canadian courts are starting to accept cases regarding alleged abuses overseas; three major ongoing cases address alleged abuses in Eritrea and Guatemala.

Some Canadian companies may be ahead of the government: Seven of the 10 largest Canadian mining companies have made commitments on human rights – better than the global rate of 53% of extractive industry companies with a human rights policy on BHRRC’s Company Action Platform.

These measures promise some accountability, but it remains to be seen whether actual implementation, and outcomes of these court cases, meaningfully address the concerns of people affected by Canadian companies.

Amid these signs of progress, the government’s denial before the UN Human Rights Committee could signal a worrisome reversal. Disavowal of the responsibility to provide robust human rights protections will likely meet with a clear response from Canadian civil society to the government: it’s not working, and the time for action is now.

SOURCE: http://business-humanrights.org/en/what-will-convince-ottawa-to-rein-in-canadian-companies

Kenya: Balala Says Changes in Mining Laws Positive

July 16, 2015

BY MARTIN MWITA

FOREIGN mining firms will have to offer a minimum of 20 per cent shares to the public through the Nairobi Securities  Exchange, Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has said, citing the proposed amendments in mining laws.

The government will further be granted 10 per cent shares in any foreign mining firm under a free carry investment plan if the proposals are adopted.

This will allow Kenyans to benefit from the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, Balala told the Star in an interview.

“Free carry means free share for government. We have asked companies to list 20 per cent of their shares. We want it done transparently, raise funds publicly, transparently and you have a broad participation of Kenyans or investors who are in the stock market” he said.

The CS said multi-billion projects that cannot be financed locally will however be allowed to source for funds outside, but will have a four year window period to list at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

“We believe there is a very vibrant financial sector in the country to finance big projects,” said Balala.

He said the government understands the large investments required in the mining sector, hence it will be flexible, but under the law.

Balala said despite the fact that most of mining companies declare losses for the first ten years listing listing 20 per cent shares at the NSE is compulsory.

He said the Mining Bill currently before Senate is expected to become law by November 1,

The Bill will also seeks to regulate small scale minors which Balala said if not checked will destroy the sector.

“We give a block to cooperatives and then they will have to pay royalties,” he said.

SOURCE: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/balala-says-changes-mining-laws-positive

Tanzania: CAG Faults NEMC Over Mining Inspections

Published on Monday, 13 July 2015 02:27

Written by FAUSTINE KAPAMA

The CAG, Professor Mussa Assad

NATIONAL Environmental Management Council (NEMC) has failed in its objectives to enforce environmental management control system, particularly inspections in all mining activities in the country, the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) performance audit report has revealed.

“Strategies for enforcement of environmental control system were not clearly set out,” the CAG, Professor Mussa Assad, said in his recently released performance audit report on enforcement of environmental control systems in the mining sector in Tanzania.

He said that those planning tools did not indicate clear strategies for environmental enforcement in mine operations and availed strategic plans and annual work plans did not address key risk factors which were associated with mining sector, as well as those factors that would require immediate NEMC intervention.

“Non availability of these enforcement parameters for guiding enforcement of environmental control systems in medium and small scale mines made it difficult for NEMC to assess its level of performance,” the CAG said.

According to him, NEMC has not adequately used information from other actors such as local government authorities and ministries, departments and agencies in performing its compliance and enforcement activities.

The overall tasks of overseeing and enforcing the implementation of environmental control systems in mines to maintain environmental quality standards are falling under the purviews of the Vice-President’s Office-Directorate of Environment and NEMC, respectively.

Their mandates are vested in them by Environmental Management Act No. 20 of 2004 and its Regulations of 2005. If the environment is left unmanaged and unregulated, then it may result into endangering human health, life, ecological balance as well as deterioration of other living things.

In his report, therefore, Prof. Assad recommended to NEMC to undertake proper monitoring or inspections in order to establish performance profile of those facilities whose enforcement is vital with the view of establishing the compliance level of each of the mining facilities.

The Vice-President’s Office, the CAG recommends the Environment Directorate to ensure environmental enforcement activities done by NEMC, Sector Ministries and Local Government Authorities are properly coordinated, harmonized and all stakeholders establish a firm reporting line.

He recommended further that the Directorate should ensure that it monitors NEMC’s performance on enforcement of the environmental control systems in the mining sector by regularly reviewing its performance as well as improving its capacity on human resource, financial and technology in meeting its overall enforcement objectives.

SOURCE: http://dailynews.co.tz/index.php/local-news/47148-cag-faults-nemc-over-mining-inspections

Nigeria: Miners Urge Govt To Revive Ajaokuta Steel Mill

By Mathias Okwe on July 5, 2015

Ajaokuta Steel complex

STAKEHOLDERS in the solid minerals sector have called on president Muhammadu Buhari to revive Ajaokuta steel mill, saying it is still a viable area for the nation’s economic growth.

The stakeholders, under the aegis of Progressive Miners Empowerment Association (PMEA) have written the President to be wary of a “clique of individuals”, who they alleged have deprived the sector of the desired growth for many years.

The President of the Association, Mr. Sunday Ekozin, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of a Jos based Geo-Minerals and Resources Limited, lamented Thursday that few individuals have held the mining sector hostage and have deprived it of generating over N1 trillion revenue annually and two million direct jobs.

According to him, the sector has hitherto failed to contribute to the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), despite the N15 billion budgetary allocations for the sector in the last four years.

He urged the government to dismiss the report on Ajaokuta steel mill, saying, “it is still very viable”

He declared that after the federal government had invested about $7.2 billion in the complex; it was disheartening those past administrations made it impossible for the complex to become operational, in spite of the massive raw material availability and the large market for steel in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.

SOURCE: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/07/miners-urge-govt-to-revive-ajaokuta-steel-mill/

Zimbabwe: Miners applaud lifting of ban on chrome exports

SOURCE: http://www.theindependent.co.zw/2015/07/03/miners-applaud-lifting-of-ban-on-chrome-exports/

South Africa: Mining Communities Are Ready to Explode, Say Activists

1st July 2015

Phakisa, from the Sesotho word meaning “hurry up”, has been touted by government as the silver bullet that would “fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues.”

But for Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), representing 100 communities through 70 affiliated organisations, Operation Phakisa is just “a fast tracking of the killings of our people and continued environmental destruction as it puts profit before the people.” MACUA says the plan should be scrapped “because it keeps on feeding the excruciating pain felt by communities who bear the negative repercussions of mining every single day.”

In a meeting held between the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), MACUA and ActionAid South Africa (AASA) recently, to consider how communities could participate in the Phakisa project, the DPME reiterated that the process was aimed at bringing together an “alliance of the willing” to focus on the “implementation” of “confident projects,” that were “constructive, pragmatic and viable.”

To their credit, the Phakisa planning team admitted that they were faced with a tough challenge because of historical antagonisms and intractable policy differences between key stakeholders. They were however at pains to emphasise that the Phakisa process was not about policy but about processes and implementation.

It was at this point that the MACUA leadership once again confirmed the absurdity of a sector of powerful players who ignore the insights and inputs of communities at the peril of inclusive and sustainable solutions. Matthews Hlabane, a MACUA leader from Mpumalanga, immediately pointed out to the DPME team that despite the rhetorical claims that mining affected communities are stakeholders, “they are a stakeholder without a stake, they are not stakeholders, they are victims.”

This crucial difference in emphasis sits at the heart of the brewing discontent among mining affected communities and as Meshack Mbangula, National Coordinator for MACUA, pointed out, “communities are angry, are ready to explode and government ignores communities at the cost of greater social conflict.”

MACUA leaders questioned the intentions of Phakisa and pointed out that communities affected by mining have only experienced the worst effects of mining and that this unholy haste to “hurry up” – phakisa – without broader and proper consultation would mean more of the exclusion, pollution and environmental destruction that mining has come to symbolise. Instead, they argued that, considering the bloody, destructive and contentious nature of mining in South Africa it would be wise to instead engage in Operation Bhekisisa – look closely.

What the industry needed was a considered, mature and inclusive discussion on what the real issues are that face South Africa, and through such deliberations to reach lasting and sustainable solutions.

The One Million Climate jobs campaign, which shows that it would be possible to create one million jobs, while greening our environment and rehabilitating the worst excesses of mining environmental destruction, was highlighted as a case in point. It was pointed out to the DPME, that MACUA, as part of the One Million Climate Jobs Campaign, delivered over 100,000 signatures to the DPME calling on the department to include the campaign in its planning. The campaign has yet to receive a response from the department.

It is ironic then that the DPME seems unwilling to move beyond its scripted path to engage in real conversations about possible solutions. But to be fair, the Planning Commission of Phakisa are merely the functionaries who are trying to navigate a path that could bring together an “alliance of the willing” and in their own words, “break the paralysis” facing the sector.

Given the nature of the engagements with Operation Phakisa to date, it would be fair to say that the intransigence of the government (Department of Mineral Resources’) and its continued refusal to acknowledge, let alone meet with, mining affected communities, remains the biggest obstacle to inclusive solutions in the industry.

MACUA has pointed out that all mining activities and processes to date, including the mining Indaba in Cape Town; mining lekgotlas organised by the Chamber of Mines, government and labour, the Minerals Petroleum Resources Development Act – MPRDA – passed by parliament and the Mining Charter agreed to by government, business and labour have been devised “with no consultation”. The failure to build inclusive platforms and inclusive solutions is what allows business to hold the country to ransom and allows business leaders to issue demands that if they are “not satisfied with the way the Phakisa goes then we will withdraw our delegation after 4 days”. Thus signalling to the Phakisa team and to the rest of society, that “you will do it our way, or we will take the highway”.

Government and business have to understand that quick-fix, fast-track solutions are ultimately doomed to fail and the only “viable, constructive and pragmatic” way forward, is an inclusive one.

Bring on Operation Bhekisisa.

*Christopher Rutledge is the Mining and extractives Coordinator for ActionAid South Africa and the Convenor of the Coalition on the MPRDA. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of GroundUp.

The text of this article and its photograph(s) are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201507011403.html