Media Statement: Amadiba Coastal Residents

The community objected strongly to Minister Sonjica’s statement that Richard Spoor was responsible for ‘destabilising the community’ and for playing the race card to try to discredit highly competent professionals who are working with the community.

Nonhle Mbutuma added that in a country that is still healing from years of racial oppression, such statements are not helpful and only serve to distract attention from the real issues. “Her comments are an insult to us as much as to white South Africans, as they try to make out that we are incapable of thinking and acting for ourselves”.

MEDIA STATEMENT FROM AMADIBA COASTAL RESIDENTS AFFECTED BY XOLOBENI DUNE MINING PLANS

26 August 2008.

DME officials visited the Umgungundlovu Great Place on the Pondoland Wild Coast took place on Wednesday 20 August 2008, as a follow up to the visit to the Xolobeni area by Minister Buyelwa Sonjica on Friday 15 August 2008.

The follow up meeting was restricted to only those people who will be directly affected by mining, in contrast to the Ministers meeting the previous Friday, when thousands of people were bussed in from outlying areas. At short notice, about 500 local residents who live along the 22km coastal strip in five villages within the Umgungundlovu sub section of the AmaDiba Tribal Administrative area, attended to express their concerns, objections and questions about the mining proposal.
The Amadiba Crisis Committee, which was led by Mr Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe informed the DME delegation led by Mr Bongo Qina that the overwhelming majority of the local residents did not want the mining. On the advice of attorney Sarah Sephton of the Legal Resources Centre the ACC called upon the minister to exercise her powers to withdraw the mining license immediately, or face court action.

“It is clear that the local residents of the five communities do not want mining to take place on their land. And the BEE partner Xolco has never been elected by the community. I was recruited to sit with Xolco as a community leader, but I could not get any truthful information. I resigned, as I realised they did not represent the community.” Radebe said.

Mr Gampe, a proud ANC member said to loud applause “I have slept enough in the forests in those days, hiding from the apartheid police. I don’t want to have to leave my home, and I refuse to give up my land, my livestock and my ancestral graves for mining.”

Mzamo Dlamini told how efforts to meet with Nomvuyo Ketse the DME Regional Manager, in order to register the Crisis Committee’s objections and protest were thwarted. “During the prospecting stage we were told one story, but then after the mining licence application was lodged, we learned a much different story. We no longer believe the promises made by MRC. We do not trust the Department of Minerals and Energy as their Regional Manager Nomvuyo Ketse actively worked to avoid meeting with us during her consultations with stakeholders.

And DME keep speaking as if they are ‘the government’, but they have failed to work cooperatively with the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Land Affairs, Water Affairs and Local Government to serve the people of South Africa”.

In response to the strong objections DME’s Mr Bongo Qina kept stating that local residents were “not yet properly educated about mining” and tried to convince the residents that “poverty was a big problem in the area”. In angry reaction a group of women in the gathering protested “we are not hungry, you cannot say we are hungry”.

Ms Mkambule, a DME specialist tried to reassure the residents that “the Labour and Social Plan would address all your concerns”, and that “eco-tourism would be helped to succeed where it had failed in the past, because of the resources and infrastructure mining would bring.”

In response Dlamini said “This is ridiculous, as we have educated ourselves about the truth about mining, as well as the false claims and lies made by MRC and Xolco. We have visited other rural mining affected communities in South Africa, and we have had visitors from their communities as well as students from other countries in the world share their experience with us. This has taught us about the negative social and environmental impact of mining. We have been unable find even one good example anywhere in the world that shows a positive impact on the quality of life of traditional rural communities after large scale mining developments that have displaced people. The only benefits that come from mining are concentrated in the hands of the few wealthy businessmen and powerful politicians, while the people whose ancestral land has been destroyed have been left worse off than before.”

Nonhle Mbuthuma from the Sigidi village summed up the feeling of the community by asking “What is different about the AmaMpondo of the Amadiba Coastal Area compared to all other South Africans? Why is it only us that are expected to sacrifice our land to mining so that we can have good roads, electricity and services from the government?”

Legal action.

On Saturday 23rd August, attorney Richard Spoor and social worker John Clarke attended a meeting with the Amadiba Crisis Committee to discuss legal remedies and options. Fifteen elected representatives from the five affected communities, voluntarily accompanied by another 25 residents attended to hear Richard Spoor’s outlines of the legal procedures and laws that governed mining in South Africa.
The gathering gave him a unanimous mandate to work with Sarah Sephton and other legal experts to pursue all available legal remedies to ensure their constitutional rights were protected from the manipulation of mining companies and to ensure DME was fully compliant with the law and the public interest.
John Clarke was also given permission to continue to engage the South African Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights and investigate alleged abuses, as well as to assist journalists to make sure the public was kept informed, and to help raise funds.

The community objected strongly to Minister Sonjica’s statement that Richard Spoor was responsible for ‘destabilising the community’ and for playing the race card to try to discredit highly competent professionals who are working with the community.

Nonhle Mbutuma added that in a country that is still healing from years of racial oppression, such statements are not helpful and only serve to distract attention from the real issues. “Her comments are an insult to us as much as to white South Africans, as they try to make out that we are incapable of thinking and acting for ourselves”.

Comments

It is real painful that there are still these kind of Developments in democratic South Africa whilst the community in the same administrative area at Mzamba Area is still suffering the consquences of being removed by Transkei government; dont have jobs, access to clean water, while at the same time dont have land for planting because of overpopulation in the community due to the Casino development.

This community which I am the part of - we have lose our value; we don't have any alternative, we have to buy everything, even water which never been a case before removal in our ancestral land where everything was possible having humanity, happy, planting land, having livestock; but today we are living on rocks the place has total change. Then I feel disappointed that the same administrative area has to suffer again the result of big development with outside ownership. I am still wondering when will be the voice of the grassroot will be heard, if it is still like this working the law of the jungle survival of the fittest.