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Is this in the interests of the average rural person, or is there a dark and sinister plot. (Of course there is.)

Traditional leadership bill a sly attempt to bypass constitutional rights to land

01 DECEMBER 2016 - 06:26 AM ANINKA CLAASSENS

Source: Business Day

The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill before Parliament is dangerous and desperate. It poses a direct threat to the basic rights of the poorest South Africans — the 18-million people living in former homeland areas, where the law would apply — in that it seeks to legalise a version of unilateral chiefly authority that Parliament and the Constitutional Court have rejected.

The bill, which is being tested in public hearings across the country, seeks to replace the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003, which connects communal land with traditional courts by superimposing apartheid tribal identities on those living in former homeland areas.

The Communal Land Rights Act, which was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2010, provided that traditional leaders would administer and control all land within their tribal boundaries – which exist wall-to-wall within the former homelands.

The Traditional Courts Bill, which was rejected by Parliament in 2014, would have empowered traditional leaders to strip anyone within their tribal boundaries of customary rights, including land rights, and would have made it a criminal offence to ignore a summons from a traditional leader.

Those laws reinforced a segregated system of property rights with no ownership for families living in the former homelands and a segregated legal system, with traditional courts in the former homelands and magistrate’s courts for other South Africans.

We’ve been there before. The difference since 1994 is that the framework act shifted the basis of differentiation away from race to geographical tribal boundaries. However, these boundaries are steeped in race. They are the outcome of the 1913 Land Act combined with the forced removal of more than 3.5-million black people during the Bantustan consolidation.

What does this mean for people on the ground? It means people whose forebears bought the land they farm, as in Matiwane’s Kop in KwaZulu-Natal, are told it is "tribal land" and only the chief can decide how it is developed.

It means Chief Lunga Baleni of Xolobeni on the Wild Coast can be the director of the local mining company and at the same time claim the sole authority to represent affected community members who oppose mining and a toll road on their land.

It means some traditional leaders routinely apply for and get interdicts to stop community members from holding meetings on the basis that only traditional leaders have the authority to call meetings.

The current act overrides people’s right to define their own customary identities or affiliate with the leaders of their choice. This is particularly problematic in the northern parts of the country where Bantustan consolidation and forced removals violently reconfigured the landscape from the 1960s to the 1980s. The framework act beds down the geographical outcome of this violent history, confirming the official recognition of chiefs appointed during apartheid and the "tribes" created for them.

But recognising traditional leaders is very different to giving them powers. The Communal Land Rights Act and the Traditional Courts Bill would have given them specific powers in respect of the land and people within those boundaries, but neither could pass constitutional muster.

So some traditional leaders and parts of government have found ways to stretch the meaning of the framework act to imply it gives traditional leaders the sole authority to represent rural communities in investment deals on communal land.

Rural people are having none of it. They insist that customary law requires chiefs to be accountable and that their authority derives from the people, not Government Gazette notices. They cite their basic rights as South African citizens, including freedom of association and assembly, and the land rights recognised by section 25 of the Constitution. And when their cases reach the Constitutional Court, they invariably win.

Legally precarious

The problem is that it can take years for a case to percolate up from the lower courts, where magistrates and judges tend to default to apartheid customary law precedents the Constitutional Court has rejected as distortions of living practice, both past and present.

As the claim to unilateral chiefly power becomes more legally precarious, so those who rely on it resort increasingly to violence, with the police noticeably absent.

Examples include Xolobeni, where antimining activist Sikhosipi Bazooka Rhadebe was assassinated in March and journalists covering his funeral were violently assaulted in public view, yet no arrests have been made.

Last month at Marikana, anticorruption activists were attacked with pangas by thugs linked directly to the traditional council that traded the community’s royalty rights for shares in the ailing Lonmin mining company. The activists include descendants of people who bought the land but who now find themselves denied a share of any revenue from the platinum mining taking place on their land.

The public protector recently confirmed that R600m was missing from their Bapo ba Mogale "tribal account" held by North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s office. She said at least R80m of that was spent on a palace for Kgosi Bob Mogale.

In Rustenburg, the Maluleke Commission investigating recurrent claims that Nyalala Pilane is not the rightful kgosi (chief) of the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela is analysing thousands of pages of evidence that mining revenue has been misspent or stolen.

These examples are the tip of an iceberg of disputes over failures of accountability and missing mining revenue. At the heart of such conflicts is the question whether traditional leaders have the power to unilaterally negotiate mining deals that displace people and destroy their land, keeping secret the terms of the deals and where the revenue goes.

Various traditional leaders and some in government clearly believe they do, and advise mining companies accordingly. Matthew Chadwick of Anglo Platinum said in June the company negotiated a R175m "final settlement agreement" with Kgosi David Langa because it was required by law to negotiate with traditional leaders.

Chadwick is mistaken. There is no such law. In fact, the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights of 1996 requires the opposite. It says that except by expropriation, individuals and families may not be deprived of informal land rights, specifically including customary rights in former homelands, unless they consent.

The bill that is now before Parliament would change all that.

Slipped among its 95 pages is clause 24, which empowers traditional councils to enter into partnership agreements with any person, body or institution with no obligation to obtain the consent of, or even to consult, the people whose land rights and lives are the subject of such partnerships. This is in a context where the auditor-general’s office admits that the 102 tribal books of account in North West, where the Bapo’s millions disappeared, have not been audited since 1994.

These accounts were inherited from Bantustan administrations and are mired in maladministration and corruption. At the same time, the provinces condone unofficial parallel accounts that escape public oversight.

Instead of addressing these acknowledged problems, the bill replicates the same empty formula about provincial oversight and annual audits. This might enable the law to pass constitutional muster while ignoring the mess on the ground. When the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill was debated in Parliament in 2003, two safety mechanisms were included to address the risk that illegitimate apartheid structures would be entrenched. One was a commission to settle disputes about tribal boundaries and the legitimacy of incumbent traditional leaders; the other was a requirement that 40% of traditional council members must be elected and 30% must be women. Both have failed spectacularly.

Downgraded

The commission’s rulings were soon downgraded to recommendations, allowing North West’s Mahumapelo to reject the recommendation that Pilane be deposed. He has not yet released the recommendations about the BaPo ba Mogale, despite the millions missing from its account and explosive disputes about the legitimacy and accountability of the tribal leadership.

The required election of councillors has often been inadequate or out of time. In Limpopo, no traditional council election has ever taken place. This puts the legal status of traditional councils at risk.

Behind the smokescreen that the new bill is concerned with Khoisan rights is a last-ditch attempt to bypass key constitutional protections in respect of land rights, to subvert customary law requirements in respect of consultation, and to undermine administrative justice and public finance bottom lines.

Traditional leaders are not the primary culprits here. Instead, we must look at the politicians who benefit from opaque mining and tourism deals in former homeland areas. They have used the law to try to resurrect the same forms of segregation and autocratic control that characterised apartheid, and to disguise the continuities as African custom.

That disguise didn’t stick when the infamous Bantu Authorities Act was adopted in 1951, and it won’t stick now.

These days, we have a Constitution.

• Claassens is director and chief researcher of the Land and Accountability Research Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town.

No Mining Protest 2008

Amadiba Crisis Committee 2016-09-15:

After one year of violence and intimidation, culminating in the murder of ACC chair Bazooka Radebe 22 March, the Mining Minister Mr Zwane today declared an 18 month moratorium for the Xolobeni opencast mining project. He said he cannot "grant the mining license now".

This is a small but important victory for the coastal Amadiba community. People feel that they can go back to their gardens and fields. We now hope that there will be a break from murder, violence and police harassment in the night.

The government knows very well that our community doesn't want mining. We are all here self-employed. We will not approve to so called "development" that destroys our land.

Umgungundlovu traditional authority and ACC will now challenge Minister Zwane and the corrupt forces behind the Wild Coast mining project in court. There will never be mining here. The people shall govern.

ACC secretary: Nonhle Mbuthuma 073 4262955.

The Umgungundlovu Traditional Authority and the ACC are represented by LRC in Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg and Richard Spoor Inc. in Johannesburg.

For legal issues in the coastal Amadiba community struggle against mining: Henk Smith 0832661770, Thabiso Mbhense 0711099340 and Richard Spoor 0836271722.

(See attached Govt. Gazette pdf.)

Homesteads in Xolobeni

www.awesomesa.co.za
South Africa is a country that has lived through one of the most frightening, riveting, and inspiring political revolutions in history. Real radical change faces each one of us every day. How do we deal with the mistrust that has crept in among our people from years of separation and confrontation?

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Awesome SA supports an organisation called Sustaining the Wild Coast.

Sustaining the Wild Coast's (SWC) focuses on assisting traditional rural communities living along Pondoland's Wild Coast, in the northern coastal regions of the former Transkei of South Africa's Eastern Cape Province, to create a positive future for themselves. You can view the SWC Awesome SA article here.

SWC works with Wild Coast communities to find sustainable solutions that improve local livelihood prospects, while respecting local cultural traditions and maintaining the wealth of natural biodiversity and unique ‘sense of place’ that the Wild Coast is re-known for. One of SWC's focus area's involves promoting public awareness about issues and concerns affecting the Wild Coast and its residents, through articles and news reports and by assisting and encouraging journalists, writers and film-makers to provide in-depth and well-informed coverage of topics concerning the area.

Two recent developments causing much concern for local people are ongoing proposals to open cast mining in the area, and the proposed routing of a tolled highway, a new extension to the existing N2 national road, through the region. SWC's dedicated Too Great a Toll fund is helping Wild Coast communities with resources to legally challenge the government's approval of the N2 ‘Wild Coast’ tolled highway. The Wild Coast communities are legally challenging the lack of proper consultation and other serious legal deficiencies in the N2 proposals Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

In Richard Branson's Screw Business as Usual, he is calling for people to turn capitalism upside down – to shift our values, to switch from a profit focus to caring for people, communities and the planet. He inspires both businesses and individuals to embark on a whole new way of doing things, solving major problems and turning our work into something we both love and are proud of.

Imagine if those driving the open cast mining and the building of a tolled highway - through one of the most pristine and unique wild areas of South Africa - would alternatively put their money into the following areas. Support the people who live on the Wild Coast in maintaining their cultural and ecological heritage, as Sustaining the Wild Coast is doing, with the following projects:-

  • Skills development, mentorship, leadership and entrepreneurial development programmes.
  • Skilling local residents and schools in permaculture cultivation methods, knowledge of indigenous plants, establishing indigenous plant nurseries and food gardens, and addressing and reversing environmental degradation.
  • Promoting eco-tourism development initiatives along the Wild Coast which includes training hiking guides, establishing guided hikes, helping local people set up community based ‘homestays’ and networking with other eco-tourism development organisations to promote responsible eco-tourism.
  • Assisting Wild Coast communities with advocacy, legal representation and specialist advice to enable them to 'own their future'.

 

  • Awesome SA is calling on South Africans who value and are proud of our country, to support the rural communities living on the Pondoland Wild Coast. We are calling for support from all areas of the globe and ask that you add your voices to the call of the Pondoland people.

    Sustaining the Wild Coast needs support, because you know what... the future is not a place that we are going to go; it’s a place that we are going to create. Please reference Too Great A Toll when making donations to assist the Pondoland people in funding the legal challenge to sustain the Wild Coast. More details can be found on the SWC website www.swc.org.za. You can follow SWC on Twitter - @SWCOAST & on Facebook - SustainingtheWildCoast.

 

 

 

Click on the pic to view the article.

 

 

 

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has released the ‘Holomisa Report’, which advises Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu on the Xolobeni mining right appeal.

The mining right was awarded to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM) in 2008, for the Kwanyana block of mineral sands on the Wild Coast.

Although dated March 2010, the report was only released on January 31. The DMR said that the delay in taking a decision on the report was owing to “administrative processes and pressures within the department”.

The report outlined a number of areas of concern and made a final recommendation that an interdepartmental committee, including the departments of Environmental Affairs, Water Affairs, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Rural Development and Land Reform, should weigh up matters and direct the way forward.

The report was drawn up by a committee formed to investigate the issue, headed by Phatekile Holomisa, which reviewed documentation received from affected parties.

The DMR has indicated that further hearings into the matter would take place at the DMR’s Durban regional office from February 16 to February 18.

The major concern highlighted in the Holomisa report was that that TEM had applied for the right to mine a number of “blocks” of titanium-mineral bearing sands, however it was only granted the right to mine one of these, the largest, called the Kwanyana block.

It was questioned whether or not the project was still feasible since only one block could be mined, and this would likely mean that the associated processing facility (which would have created many of the jobs on the operation), would no longer be built in the area.

Thus the report questioned why a mining right could be awarded for one block, when no feasibility study had been conducted to see if this was viable.

It was also understood that a letter, with a list of requirements, was sent to TEM in July 2008, by the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Regional Manager, however it appeared that the right was granted in December 2008, without any, or all, of the issues raised in the letter having been attended to. This included a number of environmental impacts.

The Holomisa task team also noted that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) was strongly opposed to mining in the area, and was “seriously concerned that the issues raised by the DEA were not addressed sufficiently or at all”.

A comparative assessment of the identified land use alternatives, such as ecotourism in the area, should also have been included in the Record of Decision, but the Holomisa report said that no evidence of such evaluation was found.

The report also stated that while “TEM has submitted ‘prima facie’ proof of consultation as is required in regulation, the task team, is however, concerned that there is no conclusive evidence that the appropriate Traditional Authorities were the ones that were consulted”.

This lack of consultation was the grounds for the appeal of the mining licence, which was submitted by the Amadiba Crisis Committee in early 2009.

“The question is, on what basis was the mining right granted without an approved environmental impact assessment and an approved environmental management programme?” the Holomisa report asked.

By: Christy van der Merwe
11th February 2011

22km proposed strip mine at  Xolobeni

From: www.iol.co.za February 8, 2011 By Ingi Salgado For some time, the state has withheld two pieces of information with significance for mining along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. Under much pressure, the government has now released both.

Both documents are shocking, but taken together, they paint a cynical picture of a potentially concerted effort to engineer an economically viable dispensation for mining on the Wild Coast with scant regard for communities and environment.

The first document came in the form of the terms of reference issued by roads agency Sanral to an environmental consultancy for the proposed N2 toll highway, which hugs the coastal sites that prospective miners are eyeing. The terms of reference specifically instruct the consultant to provide “a strong motivation for excluding the R61 and current N2 as options”.

Imagine the outrage if the assessment for a fictional new highway between Durban and Johannesburg was not compared with the impact of upgrading the N3.

That we even have sight of these terms of reference is thanks to Cullinan & Associates, which applied under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. It acts for the Sigidi, Baleni and MClick on the map for full size view (1.5Mb)datya communities, the Khimbili Property Association and residents in the amaDiba tribal authority.

The law firm first successfully opposed environmental authorisation for the proposed N2 highway in 2004, sending Sanral back to the drawing board.

Senior director Cormac Cullinan says: “It’s indisputable that if the new road doesn’t go ahead, it will have a major impact on the financial viability of mines... That’s a strong reason why they didn’t want to consider the existing route.”

The toll road appeal is now with the Department of Environmental Affairs. Cullinans alleges Sanral appears to have intended to mislead the minister because the agency initially denied its consultant had been specifically excluded from considering certain alternatives.

The second document to come to light is the nearly year-old report by Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA chief Patekile Holomisa, who led a task team assessing the award of a 2008 mining right to Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources to mine titanium on the Kwanyana block of Xolobeni on the Wild Coast.

The Department of Mineral Resources finally made Holomisa’s report public last week, and it is rather instructive. It points out that Transworld indicated a feasibility study would be carried out “as soon as the mining right is formally granted” – whereas the law requires proof that the mineral can be mined optimally. The report asks whether Transworld was allowed to dictate the prorunning parallel to the planned N2 routecessing of the application.

It also points out the mining right was granted without an environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan or further attention given to any of the department’s own stated requirements.

There was no study of the benefits of mining versus ecotourism and issues raised by the Department of Environmental Affairs were not addressed. The Department of Mineral Resources opted to reconvene the task team, which will hold hearings in Durban this month.

There is a third leg to the saga, a legal wrangle over the Commission for Traditional Leadership’s decision to dislodge amaPondo King Mpondombini Sigcau from the throne. Webber Wentzel says “a gross injustice to (our) clients appears to have been done, which cannot go unchallenged”.

Is it a coincidence that the deposed royals oppose both the Xolobeni mining and the N2 toll road?

By: Christy van der Merwe

26th January 2011

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A second task team would be established to hear oral presentations by parties affected by the proposed heavy minerals mine in Xolobeni, which is located on the South African Wild Coast.

The hearings would be held at the Department of Mineral Resources’ (DMR’s) Durban regional office from February 16 to February 18.

The task team would then make recommendations to Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, on whether or not to uphold the granting of the licence to mine the Kwanyana block of mineral-rich sands near Xolobeni, or to rescind the licence – as per the appeal from certain community members.

Australia-based Mineral Resource Commodities, through its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy & Minerals, was granted a licence to mine for titanium-bearing minerals on a portion of the dunes, in December 2008.

The Kwanyana block contains some 139-million tons of heavy titanium-producing minerals, including ilmenite, zircon, leucoxene, and rutile. Of the four blocks making up the Xolobeni project area, the Kwanyana block had the largest measured resource.

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) then appealed the awarding of the licence in early 2009, stating that the community was not properly consulted.

In February 2010, the Minerals and Mining Development board, which advises the Minister of Mineral Resources, appointed a committee headed by Phatekile Holomisa, which received documentation from affected parties, and compiled a report, which it submitted to the Minister.

No further information was given about the report, affected parties requested sight of it but have never seen it.

The DMR, in January, stated that the Holomisa report was merely an interim report, which did not contain any firm recommendations on the merit or demerit of the appeals.

It was described as an “interim measure that addressed procedure rather than substance”, and recommended that other stakeholders be afforded the opportunity to provide input to a panel to finalise the appeal.

“Our clients are extremely concerned that it has taken almost a year from the time the Holomisa task team made its recommendations to the Minister for her to come to a decision, and then only to decide to hold further hearings. The panel that is to hear the matter has still not been constituted and the Minister appears not to have applied her mind to the appeal at all,” said Legal Resources Centre (LRC) representative Sarah Sephton.

The Grahamstown-based LRC is representing the ACC.

The DMR was currently in the process of inviting nominations for new panel members, and the panel would be headed by the DMR legal services director, as the chairperson.

The panel would consist of: an environmental expert nominated by the DMR, a nominated official from the DMR Mineral Regulation branch, an environmental expert nominated by the Department of Environmental Affairs, a representative nominated by the Department of Land Affairs, a representative nominated by the Provincial Department of Economic Affairs, Eastern Cape, a representative nominated by the OR Tambo district municipality, and a representative nominated by the Bizana municipality.

MRC South Africa GM John Barnes confirmed that the company had been informed of the new hearings through a letter from the DMR, and also that the company had not been informed of any recommendations put forward in the first report.

Barnes added that while the company awaited the DMR decision on the granting of the Xolobeni licence, it was moving ahead with its Tormin mineral sands project on the west coast of South Africa.

Sephton stated that the delays were prejudicial to the LRC’s clients.

“In the meantime, our clients are still unable to make any use of the land in question. Prior to the grant of the prospecting licence, an important eco-tourism project was under way in the Xolobeni area. Since then, however, all efforts to further this project have been unsuccessful and our clients have suffered important financial losses as a result,” she explained.

She added that the harmony within the community has also suffered as conflicts have emerged between the proponents of the mining initiative and those who favour the eco-tourism plan as a means to develop the region.

“There can be no healing until a final decision is made. These lengthy and unexplained delays have marked this entire process and are quite frankly ludicrous,” Sephton exclaimed.

Posted on January 31st, 2011

interview with Bishop Geoff Davies about the N2 toll road.Bishop Geoff Davies - 6 May 2010 http://safcei.blogspot.com/2010/05/wild-coast-mining-and-toll-road.html The Wild Coast continues to be under threat from both the application to undertake sand dune mining and the N2 toll highway. The record of decision (ROD) for the N2 toll road was released on 19 April. It is stated that objections need to be made before 19th May. We are asking for an extension to this deadline but we are also told that DEAT is requiring a notice of intention to appeal. We attach this notice. We write now to ask that if you are registered as an Interested and Affected Party (I&AP) and wish to appeal, that you send in this form. Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) will shortly issue a brief outline regarding our concerns. We believe it best if comments come from a denomination or a congregation or a faith community, though an individual may also object. If you are not registered as an I&AP but wish to object, please do it through SAFCEI. We will include your appeal with ours.

I do emphasize that we in both SAFCEI and SWC believe that the development of roads in the Eastern Cape is important. Our concern is about the route of this proposed toll road and the fact that it is to be a toll road which will place an extremely heavy burden not only on the people of the Eastern Cape but also on the residents of Durban. As long ago as 2003, we asked SANRAL to upgrade the existing roads. This would not have required an extensive EIA and the work could have been completed by now. Their refusal has been extremely costly in terms of failed development and human lives lost as a result of the poor condition of the present roads. I continue to recall that one of the best priests of the Anglican Diocese of Umzimvubu, the Revd Madoda Hlwatika, lost his life on 6th January in 2004 on one of the very road we have asked to be upgraded. The greenfields route between Lusikisiki and Port Edward is not of concern only because of the threat it poses to the Pondoland Centre of Endemism but it will also isolate the present economic centres of the region, notably Mt Frere, Flagstaff and Bizana and it will have an impact on Kokstad. Certainly the residents of Umtata and Lusikisiki will benefit but the EIA does not include the matter of tolling. This is to be a separate application. We believe this is dishonest as residents of that area have not been informed that toll fees could be in excess of R75 to get to Durban. It is also absurd not to include the toll fees at the outset as the road cannot be built unless it is a toll road. This highlights the fact that the road is for the benefit of through traffic. The road will isolate communities and provide them with extremely limited access. We believe strongly that the people of the Eastern Cape deserve the development of a road system which does not punish them with excessively high toll fees. It would seem that it is the engineering companies that are driving this proposal. This application has emanated from the Department of Transport but is an unsolicited bid. We were told by the Department of Transport that it was not integral to their development plan. I think it would be fair to say that the people of Pondoland are divided on their opinion about this road. But there is unanimity in their desire for improved roads in the region. Those who will be directly affected by the toll road are extremely concerned not least because of the lack of consultation. We hope to send you further information shortly. With good wishes Bishop Geoff Davies. Kate Davies Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI) katedatsafcei [dot] org [dot] za 083-468-1798 +27-(0)21-788-6591

Please sign the petition online here:

www.wildcoast.co.za/ict4d/petition.

Development, for the people of Pondoland, does not depend solely on the N2 toll road passing through the greenfields of this fragile biosphere.

However the continued existence of the PCE does, without a doubt, depend on it not doing so.

Please sign this petition and forward it to everyone you can.

Read more here: www.wildcoast.co.za/tollroad

Thank you.

The Minister presents his arguments as if the Toll road, and the supposed benefits it will bring, is the only option by which to bring ‘development’ to the region. The Minister overlooks the fact that there are many other options of ‘development’ that will bring benefits to the region without the high, and unsustainable, cost of human and environmental disruption that the proposed N2 will bring to the PCE. These include upgrading existing local roads, and re-planning so that the proposed ‘Greenfields’ section of the N2 runs outside of the PCE. (Val Payn - SWC)

A road alone will not bring 'development'. Only investment in people brings 'development'. This requires an integrated approach that goes far beyond road building. It requires an investment in education, skills development, health improvement, democratic structures that meaningfully engage with local communities and public participation at a grass roots level, environmental conservation and restoration of degraded environments, and overcoming the gross mismanagement that is rife in local government and municipal structures and which has played a large role in the perpetuation of non-service delivery in the region.

PRESS RELEASE 12 -04 -2010 N2 TOLL ROAD - GOVERNMENT APPEARS OBLIVIOUS TO THE COMPLEXITY OF REAL ISSUES AT STAKE A recent parliamentary response to questions about the N2 Toll Road, posed to the Minister of Transport, shows the government has a deeply flawed understanding of the broader issues surrounding the N2 Toll road debacle. The Minister’s response suggests a government that is stuck in an inflexible time warp, basing its decisions on outdated, vastly flawed and unsustainable development projects that were conceived of in the early 90's, under scenarios vastly different from the situation that prevails today.

In reply to questions of whether the N2 was being planned as part of a broader spatial development plan, and how it would benefit the broader development objectives of the area, the Minister responded that the N2 was planned as part of the Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiative (WCSDI) intended to ‘unlock the development potential of the Eastern Cape’. The Minister mentions the establishment of the Pondoland Park as being a key component of the WCSDI, cites the road as being a key catalyst for the development of the area, and says benefits include positive economic impacts from tourism, retailers, service providers, jobs and investments from construction.

In terms of mitigations for negative impacts, the Minister agrees that the road will bring ‘disruption to the status quo’, but suggests that the preservation of the environment is a secondary consideration to the improved quality of life the road will supposedly bring. He also argues that it is only the 75Km (13%) of the Greenfields section that runs through the Pondoland Centre of Endemism (PCE) that is contentious, and that the narrow margins of the road reserve mean it is only 16% of the natural environment of the PCE that will be disturbed.

It sounds good and well, but a critical look shows these arguments to be misleading, highly contradictory, and totally oblivious to the realities at play in the region. The Ministers response implies that the Pondoland Park is central to the implementation of the WCSDI.

The concept of a Pondoland Park is also mentioned in the final EIR for the N2 Toll road as a key mitigation measure against acknowledged environmentally unsustainable impacts of the proposed N2 on the PCE, as a result of high ecological impacts. But the idea of a formally declared Pondoland Park, as it was presented to Wild Coast Communities by former Minister of the Environment and Tourism Minister van Schalkwyk, was rejected out of hand by local communities who reside on the land, who see it as nothing more than an attempt at a land grab of communal land by government authorities.

If the Pondoland Park is seen as key to carrying out the plans of the WCSDI, and of being central to mitigation measures against the high ecological impacts of the proposed N2, then how does government intend to proceed with a Park if this idea has been rejected by local communities, and consequently is no longer considered a viable option by the Department of Environment? If the Park is no longer an option, then how will the adverse impacts of the ‘Greenfields’ section of the N2 be mitigated? One cannot talk development in the Wild Coast area without also considering the spectre of the Xolobeni mining proposal.

If the government is seriously considering tourism as key to unlocking the development potential of the region, as the Minister suggests, then how can government be simultaneously entertaining the idea of mining in the very same area where they are talking about a Pondoland Park and increasing tourism?

- If ‘disturbance’ of the area is going to be confined solely to the road surface and road reserve, as the Minister suggests, then how is the road going to bring all the supposed secondary benefits and the ‘opening up for development’ of the region that the Minister sings lyrical about?

- If the road is intended to be a catalyst for secondary and ribbon development, then to say that ‘disturbance’ to the PCE will be limited to the 16% directly affected by the road surface and road reserve is a highly deceptive statement, to say the least.

The Minister misses the point completely when he dismisses the issues around the “Greenfields” section as being insignificant when viewed from the perspective of the road as a whole. This ‘Greenfields’ section is the only entirely new section of the road being proposed, with the rest of the road being an upgrade of existing road surface.

It is because of the social and environmental inappropriateness and unsustainability of the new ‘Greenfields’ section, and the extra taxes that will be imposed on the public in the form of tolls to pay for the road, that the proposed N2 has caused such a debacle and has been so opposed by the public.

The Minister presents his arguments as if the Toll road, and the supposed benefits it will bring, is the only option by which to bring ‘development’ to the region. The Minister overlooks the fact that there are many other options of ‘development’ that will bring benefits to the region without the high, and unsustainable, cost of human and environmental disruption that the proposed N2 will bring to the PCE.

These include upgrading existing local roads, and re-planning so that the proposed ‘Greenfields’ section of the N2 runs outside of the PCE. A road alone will not bring 'development'. Only investment in people brings 'development'. This requires an integrated approach that goes far beyond road building. It requires an investment in education, skills development, health improvement, democratic structures that meaningfully engage with local communities and public participation at a grass roots level, environmental conservation and restoration of degraded environments, and overcoming the gross mismanagement that is rife in local government and municipal structures and which has played a large role in the perpetuation of non-service delivery in the region.

Far from revealing that the N2 proposal is part of a well thought out Spatial Development Plan for the Wild Coast Region, the Ministers response highlights the deep and inconsistent fatal flaws inherent in the N2 proposal. Sustainable development depends upon conserving the structures of the environment upon which all life, including all human life, depends.

If the government is truly serious about addressing issues of poverty alleviation and inequality in the rural areas of Eastern Cape, while paying more than lip service to environmental considerations, then they need to go back to the drawing board and rethink their concepts of sustainability and development, instead of trying to perpetuate a flawed and unsustainable development model based on inappropriate models of development thinking that were fashionable in the 90s’. ENDS Val Payn On Behalf of Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) swcoastvalatgmail [dot] com cell - 083 4416961

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR WRITTEN REPLY QUESTION NO 743 DATE REPLY SUBMITTED: 30 MARCH 2010 DATE OF PUBLICATION IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: MONDAY, 15 MARCH 2010 (INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER: NO 7 – 2010) Mr G R Morgan (DA) asked the Minister of Transport:

(1) Whether the proposed development of the N2 Wild Coast Toll highway is being done in conjunction with a broader spatial planning process for the areas that will be impacted by the road; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) (a) how will the proposal for the new road benefit the broader development objectives of the area and (b) what are the negative effects of the proposed road in respect of the broader development objectives of the area?

NW870E REPLY: The Minister of Transport The proposed development of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Highway is being done with a broad spatial planning process. Government’s Wild Coast Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) was undertaken in the mid 1990’s, which focused on a developmental strategy that could address poverty, create jobs and uplift communities of the impoverished Wild Coast area. This included the toll road and the establishment of the Pondoland National Park. Since roads are the catalyst for development, the potential of the area will not be realized without a good road and the people of the area will be continued to be consigned to a life of poverty.

The documentation covering the various studies such as the economic impact studies and the environmental impact assessment are voluminous.

Detailed information is available on the following websites: www.nra.co.za and www.ccaenvironmental.co.za (chapter 15 and the specialist assessment report contained in Appendix 12 of the Final Environmental Impact Report).

(2) (a) The positive benefits, inter alia, of the project are providing access to an area of South Africa that has virtually none, thereby unlocking the developmental potential of the Eastern Cape and the Pondoland area, in particular. Furthermore, the provision of this road will strengthen the national road network where it has been required for decades.

Listed below are some of the benefits of the project: Benefit-cost analysis shows a ratio as high as 2,44. The gross once-off investment in the area during construction - R4 773 million. Income from new business activity (after construction) - R1 666 million. Total investment in the area (during and after construction) - R6 439 million. The annual increase in income in the service area of the proposed road during and after construction will be as follows:

  • Wages and salaries to local population R 228,8 million
  • Income increase to local industry R 171,6 million
  • Retailers R 114,4 million Service providers R 57,2 million
  • Number of permanent jobs 15 880
  • Multiplier effect in zone of influence: 4 – 6. Tourism potential in the area:
  • Expected tourists per annum - 1 400 000
  • Projected new room developments - 784
  • Positive economic impact as a result of increased tourism volumes It is acknowledged that any kind of development causes disruption to the status quo, be it to the natural surroundings (environmental) or to human life. The disruption caused should, however, be considered in its proper context.
  • The challenge is to find a balance between the improvement of the quality of life of human beings and the preservation of the environment. This challenge can be met through the application of mitigation measures. The reports mentioned earlier do suggest such mitigation measures that can be further refined at the implementation stage of the project.
  • It has been shown that the potential negative impact of the project is on the biodiversity of Pondoland – Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld vegetation and in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. However, this must be seen in the context of the size of the project.
  • The road traverses some 560 km between the Provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
  • The entire road is in an existing road reserve area of which approximately 75 km is a greenfield site. The greenfield site is between Ndwalane and Mtanwena River in the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. This is approximately 13% of the entire length of the road.
  • The road reserve here will be 80 m wide; the road prism will generally vary between 20 and 50 m and the surfaced width will be 12,5 m. Thus, an area approximately 94 ha out of a total area of 600 ha (greenfield site) will be disturbed – i.e. approximately 16% - to the extent that the vegetation will be uprooted.
  • This is a “small” price to pay for the upliftment of the people living in an underdeveloped part of South Africa.

THE decade-long N2 Wild Coast Tollroad debate was re-ignited this week with the release of a new – and final – environmental impact assessment.

Over 7800 submissions from the public were included in the report, which started afresh in 2007 by CCA Environmental (Pty) Ltd after an original EIA was shelved in 2004 when it was found that the “independent” environmental consultants had financial links with companies that hoped to build the road.

If approved, the project will extend over a total distance of approximately 560km between the N2 Gonubie Interchange and the N2 Isipingo Interchange (south of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal). An additional 25 tolls will be added to the route, most of them in KwaZulu-Natal.

The road will bypass towns like Kokstad and Mount Frere which are currently on the route and therefore they stand to lose the benefits from passing motorists.

The EIA divides the route into segments as it outlines both positive and negative impacts of the road as it runs along the coast.

For example, between Ndwalane and the Ntafufu in the heart of the Transkei, the report acknowledges that there will be a “loss of sensitive habitats” during construction, as well as “faunal impacts with loss of faunal diversity and loss of species of special concern”.

It also notes the impact on environmentally sensitive areas due to increased access to these areas by tourists.

These are just a few noted concerns, and they are balanced in the report by positive points, which include increased employment opportunities, improved safety for road users, and a general increase in tourism and tourist facilities after the number of people travelling through the area increases.

Closer to Gonubie, the report notes a risk to the water quality in the estuary during the operational phase, but then adds that on a positive note there will be an impact on the development of a nodal point at Mooiplaas.

There has been a huge reaction to the N2 Toll Road since the project was first raised and the new EIA took into consideration submissions from interested and affected parties.

Almost all the submissions from Kwa-Zulu Natal (97.6 percent) were negative towards the tolling of the Upper South Coast, whereas only 8.5 percent of submissions from the Eastern Cape addressed the tolling of motorists.

“Border-Kei Chamber of Business is on record as endorsing the toll route and supporting it, as long as due consideration is given to the environmental impact of the road,” BKCOB chief executive Les Holbrook said yesterday.

“In our view the road will benefit the area and the advantage of it will be enormous. We keep seeing the Eastern Cape as the second poorest province in the country but we have to realise that it is within us as a country to do something about this. (With this road) we have the opportunity of opening the Eastern Cape up to the rest of the country.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, long-time Port St Johns’ resident John Costello said that while he had nothing against development as such, he was concerned about what such a massive construction undertaking would do to the sensitive forests and waterways of the Transkei.

“The factual reality is that what was, is rapidly disappearing and no- one is doing anything about it,” Costello said of the fragile ecosystems that he had seen slowly degrading over the past 30 years.

“I’m not against development but we are sitting on an ecological time bomb.”

The EIA can be viewed at 40 libraries in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape – including at the East London library – or can be viewed at www.ccaenvironmental.co.za and www.nra.co.za. — By TARALYN BRO, Business Reporter, taralynbatdispatch [dot] co [dot] za

From: http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=385943

Also see: http://blogs.dispatch.co.za/dispatchnow/2010/03/09/n2-toll-road-debate-r...

By John GI Clark

Stephan Hofstatter’s report on the shenanigans surrounding the Wild Coast mining saga refers (Transkei dead’s nod to dune deal, March 5). So it is at the discretion of the minister whether or not to revoke a mining right, even when there is clear evidence of a fraud having been perpetrated to secure a mining right by the holders thereof.

The latest evidence of fraudulently obtained lists of people, many of whom are long deceased, on “certificates” stating their free and informed consent for the Xolobeni Mining venture on the Wild Coast, provides Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu with a more than adequate basis to revoke the mining right immediately.

By so doing she will not only bring a merciful end to the protracted and costly appeal process that has dragged on for more than 16 months, but also clear the way for the amaDiba residents to unite in a last-minute effort to ready themselves to attract Soccer World Cup tourists.

At the recent appeal hearing, which was postponed by chairman Patekile Holomisa, I pleaded on behalf of the amaDiba community with whom I have been working for the past two years, to heed President Jacob Zuma ’s call for South Africans to unite to put our best foot forward in welcoming visitors to SA this year for the World Cup.

What do we want those tourists to take home with them after the World Cup is over? Newspaper reports of a ridiculous legal wrangle over the non- renewable titanium resources buried in the Wild Coast dunes? Or happy stories of their walks through indigenous forests, their swims on pristine beaches, their canoeing up spectacular estuaries on the Wild Coast, and their accounts of extraordinary hospitality and warmth from the amaDiba?

Please, Minister Shabangu, be true to your oath of office, and exercise your powers to summarily revoke the Xolobeni mining licence right now.

John GI Clarke

Social worker for amaDiba community residents on the Wild Coast

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=95715

By Stephan Hofstatter

Johannesburg — EVIDENCE of misrepresentation has emerged in papers submitted in an application that led to a decision by the Department of Mineral Resources to allow titanium mining on the environmentally sensitive Wild Coast.

If proved, the disclosures could jeopardise plans by Australian company Mineral Commodities (MRC) and its empowerment partner, Xolco, to extract heavy metals worth an estimated R11bn from the coastal dunes of the Transkei.

The evidence, seen by Business Day, is in papers submitted by Xolco to a panel considering an appeal by a local community group and the nearby Wild Coast Sun. Included are signatures of more than 3000 community members purportedly "in full agreement with the mining project going ahead" after being briefed about the "social, economic and environment impact".

A cursory check by Business Day revealed that several identity numbers belonged to people who had died and that more than a dozen were invalid. Other signatories submitted affidavits that they had never signed the list. Two said their signatures had been used "fraudulently".

The department's decision to allow mining on a 22km strip containing more species than in the UK sparked an international outcry.

MRC MD Mark Caruso said the danger of environmental damage had been grossly exaggerated.

Villagers are divided. Supporters, including politically connected business leaders likely to benefit, argue it is the impoverished region's only hope of development. Detractors, including a vocal lobby group, the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC), funded by environmentalists, insist mining will enrich a small elite while destroying livelihoods for most.

Company documents seen by Business Day show five trusts set up by Xolco to disburse revenue to the community will be run by members with sole discretion on spending, including on salaries.

The ACC appeal also argues that Xolco and MRC failed to meet legal requirements of consultation by going through illegitimate traditional structures.
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The mining companies say the "tribal authority was fully informed and supportive of the project". It lists "Chiefs Khaliphile Baleni and Ndabazakhe Baleni" as the legitimate traditional leaders. But official notices show the Eastern Cape traditional affairs department recognises only "Chief Lunga Baleni" as "inkosi of the Amadiba Tribal Authority", which has jurisdiction over the mining block.

Lunga Baleni said he was never consulted. Ndabazakhe Baleni died last year. Khaliphile Baleni is apparently ill and could not be reached for comment.

Legal experts say the minister is not obliged to cancel the mining right, even if fraud is proved.

"The section gives the power to the minister to cancel, suspend or revoke the licence in such a case," said University of Cape Town law professor Jan Glazewski. "But I believe the minister will have to be prevailed upon to force their hand."

http://allafrica.com/stories/201003050231.html

By Tony Carnie

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize has re-iterated his opposition to the proposed N2 Wild Coast toll road, saying more tollgates in the Durban area will cause further financial hardship for commuters and slow down economic growth.

Reacting to the news that the proposed N2 toll had been given another green light after an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process, Mkhize said the KZN Provincial government had always been opposed to the proposed Wild Coast toll road, especially the proposed toll gate at Isipingo.

The Premier noted that there was general agreement in the legislature that all political parties should speak with one voice in opposing this tollgate and he promised to make an official announcement later this week on how the legislature would respond to the latest EIA recommendation.

The Democratic Alliance also voiced its alarm about the "pig-headed" stance of the Sanral road agency in pursuing the plan in the face of strong opposition in several quarters in KZN.

"We call on the Premier to take a determined stance against the project," said Radley Keys, the party's provincial spokesman on transport.
"Once again Sanral is displaying a pig-headed obsession with this project, proving it will stop at nothing to fleece the motoring public of our province."

He suggested the plan would have "a devastating impact" on KZN businesses and residents forced to make use of the road on a frequent basis.

"Given the current economic climate, along with the looming 25-percent electricity tariff hike and the 25c per litre increased tax on fuel that will come into effect in April, the building of yet another toll plaza at Amanzimtoti/Isipingo may well be the final nail in the coffin for business and industry in KZN."

He argued that the proposed mainline toll plaza at Isipingo was designed to make eThekwini motorists subsidise the construction of the N2 through the former Transkei.

"Clearly the motoring public of eThekwini, and KZN motorists at large, are viewed as cash cows to fund road construction in other provinces. There are a staggering number of toll plaza's in our province - the fact that the 'user pays' principle has not been applied to the proposed N2 Toll - with no plaza's planned for the entire stretch through the Eastern Cape, speaks volumes."

In fact, the proposed Wild Coast toll road makes provision for 26 new toll payment points spread through both KZN and the Eastern Cape.

These include four new mainline plazas and one ramp plaza in the Eastern Cape. In KZN, the existing Oribi mainline plaza and three ramp plazas would be supplemented by two new mainline plazas at Isipingo and Park Rynie and seven new ramp plazas at Pennington, Park Rynie, Scottburgh, Umkomaas, Adams Road, Moss Kolnick interchange and Joyner Road.

Although the scale of toll fees is specifically excluded from the EIA process, illustrative fees provided by Sanral suggest that the most expensive toll along the route would be between Southbroom in KZN and Ntafufu in the E Cape.

Based on 2006 price projections, the toll for this 121 km-long section could be around R114 for cars.

Along the busiest stretch (Isipingo/Amanzimtoti) Sanral has projected car toll fees of between R8 - R5, with further new tolls of between R29 - R18 at Park Rynie and another R24 - R15 at Oribi.

These toll ranges appear to be outdated, however, as the current Oribi fee is already R18, and by the time the entire Durban-East London route is completed, prices are expected to have risen further.
Continues Below ↓

But Sanral chief Nazir Alli says he is confident that a solution can be found to allay the concerns of the KZN provincial government and and the city of eThekwini.

Alli has welcomed the EIA recommendation and said Sanral would engage the province and the city once a final decision had been made by the Department of Environment.

But Sanral's Wild Coast toll road project manager Ron Harmse has has cautioned that there is still "quite a long road ahead".

Even if the department authorised the project, there was a mandatory 30-day appeal period and he anticipated that there would be several appeals, particularly from South Coast residents.

Harmse said he was reluctant to speculate on when construction might begin as appeals would have to be considered by Environment Minister Buyelwa Sonjica.

Thereafter, Sanral would have to begin a land acquisition process along some parts of the greenfields route.

A tender process to build and operate the route could take in the region of six months, followed by a further 14 - 24 month process to adjudicate tenders.

Thereafter, the successful concessionaire would also have to complete final route designs.

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=181&art_id=nw2010030722...

LRC to make oral submissions on behalf of the Amadiba Crisis Committee at Xolobeni.

On 8, 9 and 10 February 2010, the Minerals and Mining Development Board will receive oral submissions on behalf of interested parties involved in the appeal against the Minister’s decision to grant a mining right to Transworld Energy Minerals (TEM) at Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape. The Board will then make recommendations to the Minister of Minerals and Energy.

The LRC will be representing the Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) who are appealing the granting of the mining right. One of the grounds for the appeal is that the mining right was granted to TEM without sufficient and reasonable consultation with the Xolobeni community as an interested and affected party. Counsel for the ACC Advocates Gilbert Marcus (SC) and Isabel Goodman will be submitting written heads of argument that will be made available to interested parties.

Recently, on 28 September 2009, the LRC submitted two expert reports to the Minister on behalf of the ACC. The reports were in support of the ACC’s appeal to the Minister to set aside the mining right. One of the reports provided that the heavy mineral mining operations planned by TEM have been discontinued in other jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand. TEM is a subsidiary of the Australian group Mineral
Resources Commodities (MRC).

The details of the hearing are as follows:

Date: 8, 9 and 10 February 2010
Time: 8 February (12h00 to 16h00), 9 and 10 February (9h30 to 15h00)
Venue: Department of Mineral Resources KZN Regional Office
333 Durban Bay House
Smith Street
Durban

For further information contact:

Legal Resources Centre
Sarah Sephton
046-6229230/0834107646/

Check out these film clips that have been made about the amaPondo people’s battle against the mining proposal:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XriivLxBoZ4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXQmpSNqH40
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClDk33tAVpk

2 October 2009

LRC submits expert evidence against mining in Xolobeni

On 28 September 2009 the Grahamstown office of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) submitted two expert reports to the Minister of Minerals and Energy on behalf of the AmaDiba Crisis Committee (ACC). The reports were in support of the ACC’s appeal to the Minister to set aside the mining right granted to Transworld Energy Minerals(TEM) at Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape.

One of the reports compiled by Jan Meyer, a soil fertility expert, provides that the heavy mineral mining operations planned by TEM have been discontinued in other jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand. TEM is a subsidiary of the Australian group Mineral Resources Commodities (MRC).

The report states that ‘a significant amount of heavy mineral mining previously took place along the East Coast of Australia, New South Wales. However many of the mining operations in New South Wales have been asked to desist.’

The report also lists 10 reasons why the mining operations in New South Wales have been discontinued and describes several of them as relevant to the proposed mining at Xolobeni.

This means that TEM seeks to legitimise operations in South Africa regardless of their negative impact. The intended mining will adversely affect the traditional way of life of the Xolobeni community, some of whom have occupied the land for centuries, and will irreparably damage the coastline.

This matter began on 2 September 2008, when the ACC made an application to appeal/review the decision in terms of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002. The basis for the appeal/review is that the mining right was granted to TEM without sufficient and reasonable consultation with the Xolobeni community as an interested and affected party.

It is not known when the Minister will reconsider the decision to grant the licence but the Department has announced that the appeal/review will take place.

For further information contact the Legal Resources Centre:

Sarah Sephton
Attorney
0466229230

For some background on the status of the appeal, please see this Mining Weekly article from March this year. It's great to see Creamer Media batting for our team.

Jubaeopsis caffra (Pondo coconut, Dwarf Pondoland palm, Mkambati palm)

Dated and incomplete list by Tony Abbott (P O Box 111, Port Edward 4295)

The Pondoland Centre (van Wyk 1994), one of the Centres of Plant diversity of the Maputaland-Pondoland Region is tied to the Mzikaba Formation (Thomas et al. 1992).

Many Pondoland endemics are noted for their very narrow distribution along the coastal belt. In nearly all species distribution is clumped and confined to certain areas that appear to have no characteristics that are not shared by adjoining areas of similar topography and substrate. The large majority are almost certainly palaeoendemics.

The endemic woody plants largely occur in stream and river forests. They tend to be roughly confined to the lower 15 kilometres from the sea. The rivers exhibiting the greatest preponderance of endemics are, from the north, the Umzimkulwana, the Umtamvuna, the Mzamba, the Nyameni, the Mtentu, the Mzikaba, the Mkweni, the Lupatana, the Mlambomkulu, the Cutweni and the Mkosi.
Grassland endemics are concentrated in the same geographical area but with only three areas of conservation; the remaining grasslands are historically subject to heavy utilisation. The conserved areas are the Mkambati Nature Reserve, the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve (with little grassland) and the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve.

Out side the conserved areas, the grasslands are somewhat depauperate in species diversity due to heavy grazing but still retain the essential components of the veldtype. In particular, the grazing lands contain plenty of refugia from pressure, such as wetlands, which retain a diverse biota.

Preliminary survey in recent years has revealed many new species and given rise to the existence of the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. Much more research is required to complete a survey of this Centre and without doubt, further taxa await discovery.

With the narrow distribution of many species, it is clear that any large construction such as a major road could well affect the viability of such small populations.
 
Agathosma sp. is a small shrub up to 2½ metres of sandstone streams recently discovered in the KwaDlambu River inland of Mkambati Game Reserve
Apodytes abbottii Potgieter & Van Wyk is a shrub or small tree normally occurring scattered in rock outcrops, less often it is found in kloof forest margins. It is well distributed throughout the Pondoland Centre. It is often seen with trees such as Canthium vanwykii and Loxostylis alata.

Canthium vanywykii Tilney & Kok is a spreading shrub that is found in forest margins and bushclumps on rock outcrops. Its distribution is in lowland coastal forest around in southern KwaZulu-Natal and the northern Eastern Cape.

Cussonia sp. nov. a small slender tree growing in south west facing krans scrub forest from the Umtamvuna River, Mnyameni River, Mkambati River and Mlambomkulu River.
Colubrina nicholsonii Van Wyk & Schrire forms colonies of plants which have thick drooping stems. It often occurs on coastal stream banks but on Mt Sullivan it grows in greater numbers than elsewhere. Although flowering profusely, only a few fruits have been seen and no seedlings have ever been recorded; further survey of Mt Sullivan might reveal some regeneration. The type locality is the Daza River in Mkambati Game Reserve. It occurs from the south bank of the Umtamvuna River to Mount Sullivan. Recently located in Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve.

Cussonia sp nov A small tree up to 3 m. It occurs in forest along south and southwest facing kranses in cooler, shady conditions.  So far known from Waterfall Bluff, Mkambati River, Mnyameni River, Mzamba River and Umtamvuna River.

Cyphostemma rubroglandulosum Retief & Van Wyk is a creeper and has been recorded in forests of the Pondoland Centre from the coast to higher altitudes inland.

Dahlgrenodendron natalense J.J.M. v.d. Merwe & Van Wyk is a tall tree of the coastal lowland forests with a tendency to produce suckers. Although it fruits rarely, the seed is fertile and grows readily. However, so far no seedlings have been noted in the wild. It occurs from the Mzikaba River to the Umtamvuna River with several relictual occurrences as far north as Ngoye Forest although it has never been recollected there. A good stand grows on the south west flank of the Ozwatini Plateau lying to the west of Ndwedwe inland of Durban.
Erica sp. nov. A shrub normally found on cliffs, formerly included in Erica caffra.

Eugenia erythrophylla Strey is medium to tall forest tree which occurs in coastal lowland forests particularly in small tongues of kloof forest. Its distribution is small in throughout the Pondoland Centre.
Eugenia simii Duemmer is a small shrub that grows on coastal stream and river beds and banks. Its associates are Gymnosporia bachmannii and Syzygium pondoense. It occurs in southern KwaZulu-Natal and northern Pondoland.
Eugenia umtamvunensis Van Wyk is a rare, small tree or shrub of very narrow distribution around the KwaZulu-Natal Eastern Cape border. It grows on kloof and krans forest margins near the coast. It ranges from the Mtentu River to the Umtamvuna River.

Eugenia verdoorniae Van Wyk grows more often as a shrub than a small tree. This narrow leafed plant grows on coastal kloof and krans forest margins confined to the area from southern KwaZulu-Natal and Pondoland north of Fraser’s Gorge.

Eugenia sp. nov. A is a slender small tree occurring in dry forest. It has a scattered distribution in KwaZulu-Natal.

Eugenia sp. nov. B is a small robust tree occurring on sandstone kranses and dry forest in the lower half of KwaZulu-Natal.

Eugenia sp. nov. C is a medium tall forest tree marked by its flush of new leaf in reds, pinks and greens. It occurs in coastal lowland forest in southern KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

Grewia pondoensis Burret is very close to Grewia occidentalis but differs in its thick glossy leaves and its lax habit. Another species of coastal lowland forests in southern KwaZulu-Natal and northern Eastern Cape.

Gymnosporia bachmannii Loes.  is a small shrub seldom growing more than one metre tall. It only grows in rocky stream and riverbeds in coastal KwaZulu-Natal/Eastern Cape border area.

Gymnosporia vanwykii R.H. Archer is a rare geoxylic suffrutex of the grassland which occurs along the southern KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape coast.
Indigofera braamtonyi ined. Schrire resembles I. natalensis but has a very limited distribution with an strange outlier at Ngoye Forest.

Indigofera jucunda Schrire grows along many of the sandstone streams. This shrub is very popular in gardens with its long lasting pink flower spikes.

Ipomoea sp. nov. is a tiny geophyte seen only twice, once in Mkmabati Nature Reserve and once on the Mnyameni River. It grows in the shallow Selaginella fern beds on flat rocks gardens.

Jubaeaopsis caffra Becc. This palm is renowned world wide for its strange occurrence on the northern banks of only the Mzikaba and Mtentu Rivers at the coast. It has been widely cultivated by palm growers.

Leucadendron pondoense Van Wyk is a fire escape tree up to six metres tall that grows in streambeds above the coast ranging from Nyameni River in the north to Mlambomkulu River in the south. In this range it occurs in last five or six kilometres from the sea. There seems to be no reason why this plant does not occur in the streams outside this range but still within the Pondoland Centre.

Lydenburgia  abbottii (A.E. Van Wyk & Prins) Y. Steenkamp, A.E. Van Wyk & Prins. is a tall forest tree of upwards of 30 metres which occurs in coastal kloof forests. It is the most rare tree in South Africa. In steep land it grows with a single erect stem while in flatter places it may have several stems. From known records, it occurs from Amphitheatre in the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve to the Mzamba River, a total range of only 10 kilometres. It flowers profusely and the seeds are quite viable. This is the most closely confined distribution of the endemic woody plants of the Pondoland Centre and development could easily destroy the viability of the population. The total population is estimated to be between 200 and 400 specimens.
Manilkara nicholsonii Van Wyk is a medium tree of coastal lowland forests in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape border. It occurs as a scattered member of both mesic and dryer forests. It has an extremely low fruit set as a gall-forming insect attacks the flowers.
Maytenus abbottii Van Wyk is a small colonial tree that favours the moister places including stream banks in coastal lowland forest. A small distribution around the KwaZulu-Natal/Eastern Cape border.

Maytenus oleosa Van Wyk & Archer is a rare, small riverine tree of limited coastal distribution around the KwaZulu-Natal/Eastern Cape border. It used to be included in M. undata but its clearly defined habit and habitat marked it out.

Ochna sp. nov.  is well distributed along sandstone streams in lowland coastal forest and has been included in O. natalitia.

Phylica natalensis Pillans is an extremely rare subshrub known only from the area around Port Edward. It forms small clumps in grassland. The largest known population occurs in the vicinity of the Red Desert.

Pseudosalacia streyi Codd is a tree that grows within close proximity of streams and occurs in pure stands. There is a single group that grows high up under the cliff above a gorge where it seems that the moisture regime is similar to stream margins. A rare plant that occurs in groups isolated from each other. It occurs in coastal lowland forests around the KwaZulu-Natal/Eastern Cape border.

Pseudoscolopia polyantha Gilg is a small shrub of coastal lowland forest that occurs along forest margins in colonies. Although mainly confined to the Pondoland Centre, there are outlying populations on the Great Noodsberg and at Porterville in the Western Cape. A remarkable distribution.

Putterlickia retrospinosa Van Wyk & Mostert is a spiny creeper of forest and forest margins. It occurs coastal lowland forest around the KwaZulu-Natal/Eastern Cape border throughout the Pondoland Centre.

Raspalia trigyna (Schltr.) Duemmer, the only species in the family Bruniaceae to occur outside the winter rainfall area, has had a very chequered career in recent times. It is the most rare shrub of the summer rainfall region of South Africa. From 1965 it was known from a single specimen in the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve until that plant died in 1988. That year a survey was conducted to search for other wild plants and resulted in the discovery of a single plant at Magwa Falls. This plant was successfully propagated and five clones were planted in the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve of which four survive and are healthy. Another five clones were handed to the then Transkei Department of Agriculture but recent investigations have failed to reveal their whereabouts. 1n 1995, a further wild specimen was discovered in the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve and efforts are currently under way to cross breed this and the clones - so far unsuccessfully. In 2001, a tiny breeding colony was found in Pondoland; this amazing discovery serves to emphasize the vulnerability due to the minute 40 square metre colony.

Rinorea domatiosa Van Wyk is a small tree that occurs in colonies in lowland coastal forest. It is very closely allied to Rinorea angustifolia (Thouars) Baill. but does not grow together with it.

Rhus acocksii Moffett is a slender spiny creeper of coastal lowland forest margins of the Pondoland Centre.
Rhynchocalyx lawsonioides Oliv. is a small tree of coastal lowland forests which grows in colonies on kranses and along streams. Its range is southern KwaZulu-Natal and northern Eastern Cape.

Syzygium pondoense Engl. is an attractive robust shrub of stream and river banks and beds. It occurs in southern KwaZulu-Natal and south to the Mlambomkulu River in Eastern Cape on sandstone streams close to the coast.

Tephrosia pondoensis (Codd) Schrire is a small slender tree or shrub that occurs in forest margins. Its occurrence is very limited and there are many seemingly identical forest margins where it does not appear.
Tricalysia africana (Sim) Robbrecht a rare small tree of lowland forest near Magwa Falls.
 
 
GRASSLAND AND FOREST HERBACEOUS ENDEMIC/near endemic SPECIES
 
Anthospermum streyi Puff
Aristea platycaulis Bak.
Bulbine sp. nov.
Calopsis paniculata (Rottb.) Desv.
Cassytha pondoensis Engl.
Carissa sp. nov.
Crassula streyi Tölken
Craterostigma sp nov
Delosperma edwardsiae L. Bol.
Delosperma grantiae L. Bol.
Delosperma pallidum L. Bol.
Delosperma stenandrum L. Bol.
Delosperma sp. nov.
Erica abbottii Oliver
Erica sp. nov.
Eriosema umtamvunensis Stirton
Eriosemopsis subanisophylla Robyns
Euryops leiocarpus (DC.) B. Nord.
Helichrysum pannosum DC.
Helichrysum populifolium DC.
Indigofera gogosa ined. Schrire
I. herrstreyi ined. Schrire
I. pondoense ined. Schrire
I. rubroglandulosa Germish.
Ipomoea sp. nov.
Kniphofia drepanophylla Bak.
Lampranthus sp. nov.
Leucadendrom spissifolium (Salisb. Ex Knight) Williams subsp. natalense (Thode & Gilg) Williams
Leucadendron spissifolium (Salisb. ex Knight) Williams subsp. oribinum Williams
Leucospermum innovans Rourke
Lopholaena dregeana DC.
Phylica natalensis Pillans
Plectranthus ernstii Codd
Plectranthus hilliardiae Codd
Plectranthus oertendahlii Th. Fr. Jr.
Plectranthus oribiensis Codd
Polygala esterae Chod.
Psoralea abbottii Stirton
Sencio glanduloso-lanosus Thell.
Senecio medley-woodii Hutch.
Streptocarpus porphyrostachys Hilliard
Streptocarpus primulifolius Gand. subsp formosus Hilliard & Burtt
Streptocarpus trabeculatus Hilliard
Streptocarpus sp. nov. Bellsteadt
Syncolostemon ramulosus E. Mey. Ex Benth.
Tephrosia bachmannii Harms
Turraea streyi F. White & Styles
Watsonia bachmannii L. Bol.
Watsonia mtamvunae Goldb.
Watsonia pondoensis Goldb.
 
SPECIES WHICH APPEAR TO BE LARGELY CONFINED OR POSSIBLY ENDEMIC TO THE PONDOLAND CENTRE
 
This list clearly shows the need for further research of the biota of the Pondoland Centre.
 
Alepidea stellata Weim.
Aspalathus gerradii H. Bol.
Aspidoglossum uncinatum (N.E. Br.) Kupicha
Atalaya natalensis R.A. Dyer
Berkheya sp. nov.
Brachystelma australe  R.A. Dyer
Brachystelma kerzneri
Brachystelma tenellum R.A. Dyer
Centella graminifolia Adamson
Chironia albiflora Hilliard
Cineraria sp. nov.
Clutia sp. nov
Crassula obovata  Haw. var. dregeana (Harv.) Tölken
Eriosema latifolium (Benth. Ex Harv.) Stirton
Euphorbia ericoides Lam.
Ficus bizanae Hutch.& Burtt Davy
Gnidia triplinervis Meisn.
Heliophila subulata  Burch. ex  DC. [form]
Hernia hystrix (Hook. f.) N.E. Br. subsp. parvula Leach
Hypoxis beyrichii
Impatiens flanaganii Hemsl.
Kniphofia coddiana Cufod.
Lotonis bachmannii Dümmer
Lotononis holosericea. (E. Mey.) B-E van Wyk
Lotononis viminea (E. Mey.) B-E van Wyk
Memecylon bachmannii Engl.
Monsonia natalensis Knuth
Orbea speciosa Leach
Peperomia rotundifolia (L.) H.B.K.
Peucedanum natalense (Sond.) Engl.
Phyllanthus sp. nov.
Plectranthus praetermissus Codd
Plectranthus reflexus van Jaarsveld & Edwards
Podranea ricassoliana (Tanf.) Sprague
Relhania  pungens  L'Hérit. subsp. angustifolia (DC.) Bremer
Schizoglossum atropurpureum  E. Mey. subsp. virens (E. Mey.) Kupicha
Selago lepidioides Rolphe
Senecio erubescens Ait. var. incisus DC.
Siphonoglossa sp. nov.
Streptocarpus johannis Britten
Streptocarpus modestum Britten
Struthiola pondoensis Gilg.ex C.H. Wright
Tetraria sp. nov.
Utricularia sandersonii Oliv. [rare habitat]
Wahlenbergia sp. nov.
Watsonia inclinata Goldbl. [centred in Pondoland Centre]
Zaluzianskya angustifolia. Hilliard & Burtt

Scientists in South Africa discover 18 new spider, snail and worm species

From www.guardian.co.uk By David Smith in Johannesburg Tuesday 18 August 2009

Scientists surveying a nature reserve in South Africa have discovered 18 previously unrecorded species of invertebrates, including spiders, snails, millipedes, earthworms and centipedes.

The trove of creatures was uncovered in eight days by researchers and volunteers working for the environmental charity Earthwatch at the Mkhambathi nature reserve on the spectacular Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

However, scientists warned that planned developments in the area could threaten the ecosystem and deny them the chance to identify further species. Jan Venter, an ecologist working for Eastern Cape Parks, which manages the reserve, said that the 29 square mile area had previously attracted only ad hoc surveys and butterfly collectors.

"To get so many species in one survey shows the importance of the reserve. It's a very special area, conservation-wise. If we do another survey, we'll find just as many."

The team suspects that another 18 species might be discovered. The number of identified species on the planet – 2m so far – could represent only 2% of all those that exist.

South Africa, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and its neighbours are prime locations for adding to the species catalogue. Michelle Hamer, a scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute, said: "These discoveries are important because they highlight just how little we know about our biodiversity, even in a relatively well-studied country like South Africa … many of the species we collected seem to be unique to a small area in or around Mkhambathi."

The area has been earmarked for a toll road and titanium mining by an Australian company, though the development is said to be on hold due to the recession. Hamer warned: "There is also a lot of pressure to develop tourism infrastructure inside the reserve. This means that many of these species could have disappeared before even being discovered.

If we understand the importance of the area in terms of its invertebrate fauna, then we can try to protect it.

"Will it make a difference … if these species go extinct? We don't know for sure, but we do know that every species that is removed … results in some weakening of the ecosystem."

A report highlighting the data on the invertebrates at Mkhambathi was this year presented to Eastern Cape Parks scientists for use in conservation management. The freshly discovered species are now being named and described in South African research institutes.

From www.iol.co.za

August 16 2009 at 06:51PM

The dispute over community consent for Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project is hotting up as Minerals and Energy Minister Susan Shabangu considers granting the final go-ahead.

The plans are to excavate 346 million tons of titanium and other heavy minerals along a 22m stretch of the Wild Coast below Port Edward.

Mining it will generate R560-million yearly, with R42m to be spent on local salaries each year and R2,9-billion going to the government.

But conservationists are protesting because the mineral area lies in a vast, unspoilt wilderness region that offers considerable ecotourism potential.

This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Argus on August 16, 2009

Comment:
Important to note that not just environmentalists, but hundreds of members of the community attended the protest march last year, including many elders, the headman, and other prominent community leaders. As if more proof was needed, even King Mpondomise and the Royal House are against the proposed strip mining.

Click on the pic to view the article.

See also: Minister admits consultation process ‘flawed’

and Questions hover over Wild Coast mining deal amongst other updates and info at www.wildcoast.com/xolobeni.

From www.iol.co.za

August 16 2009 at 06:47PM

By Fred Kockott

An Australian mining enterprise stands accused of using an allegedly fraudulent certificate of consent containing 3 087 names to try to persuade top South African government officials that there is overwhelmingly community support for proposed heavy minerals mining along the Wild Coast.

"I've seen my name on the certificate of consent, yet I did not sign such consent form, nor do I support the mining," said Sinegugu Zikulu, a leading member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which is appealing against the government's granting of mining rights on the Wild Coast to Transworld Energy and Minerals Resources (TEM) - a South African subsidiary of the Australian mining company Mineral Commodities.

Zikulu said the crisis committee was collecting statements from "hundreds of others who do not support the mining, but whose names appear on this certificate".

"There are some people's names on these certificates of consent who are dead, and I'm not talking about people who died in 2008, but who have been dead for 10 to 20 years."

Xolco, a local empowerment grouping with a 26 percent stake in the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project, told the Department of Minerals and Energy the Amadiba Crisis Committee was "a small faction of the community representing 28 people".

"The greater majority of the people (3 087) resident in the Amadiba administrative area have been consulted over the project and have in writing confirmed their consent to the proposed project," reads Xolco's submission.

This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Argus on August 16, 2009

Open letter to the Press (Author unknown)

Dear Editor

The N2 ‘Wild Coast’ Toll Rd EIA appears to have resurrected a widespread and extremely short-sighted myth which is common in economic circles. This myth is that ecological losses are justified if they result in economic gains.
The N2 Toll Road EIA points out that the proposed highway will result in substantial damage to the environment, particularly the extension through the ‘Greenfields’ section which traverses the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism. It defends these negative environmental impacts by claiming that economic benefits will outweigh ecological losses. This myth has been widely perpetuated by a number of local media reports concerning the N2 project.

It is beyond belief how such an outdated notion continues to be perpetuated in the twenty first century, when one considers the perilous state of the planet and incontrovertible evidence to the contrary by significant numbers of internationally accepted studies that show that environmental degradation invariably leads to decreasing social well-being and is economically costly.
In 1997 the United Nations, in its Human Development Report, said that poverty relief measures went hand in hand with reversing ‘environmental degradation’, securing ‘sustainable livelihoods’, improving employment prospects and creating ‘an enabling environment for small scale agriculture, microenterprises and the informal sector’.

In 2002, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development here in South Africa, Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General, stated ‘…a path to prosperity that ravages the environment and leaves a majority of humankind behind in squalor will soon prove to be a dead-end road for everyone.”

The Millennium Assessment of 2005 showed that ‘the degradation of ecosystem services represents loss of a capital asset’ and furthermore that ‘loss of eco-systems services are seldom, if ever, brought into the balance sheet of GDP. When loss through unsustainable use is factored into GDP, many of the developing countries that show positive GDP growth are actually experiencing net loss of capital, with dire consequences for future growth.’

The UNEP 4th Global Environmental Outlook report of 2007 states, ‘development strategies often ignore the need to maintain the very ecosystem services on which long-term development goals depend…’. Both the UNDP and GEO4 state that poverty relief in many instances is interdependent upon reversing environmental degradation and nurturing sustainable livelihoods.
The 2007 South African National Framework on Sustainable Development argued for recognition of ‘non-negotiable ecological thresholds’ (NFSD, DEAT, 2007:21) that need to be reserved in order to maintain natural capital stocks over time. This ‘integrated approach’ emphasizes that the sustainable functioning of social and economic structures are dependent upon maintaining and working within the capacity of the environment to maintain and regenerate itself.

And most recently, WWF International’s 2008 Living Planet report states…..’Devastating though the financial credit crunch has been, it's nothing as compared to the ecological recession that we are facing…. The more than $2 trillion lost on stocks and shares is dwarfed by the up to $4.5 trillion worth of natural resources destroyed forever each year.’

Given our considerable and irrefutable scientific proof of the current parlous state of our planet it is difficult to know how the myth that supposed economic gains can supplement for lost ecosystem functioning keep being perpetuated. Our own South African Environmental Outlook report, published in 2007 by the DEAT, makes it abundantly clear that South Africa cannot be at all complacent when it comes to the state of our environment, if we are to have any hope of pursuing a sustainable path.

Here are perhaps a few reasons that this myth is still so widespread:
First, it serves the short term interests of business and political leaders who stand to gain short term private profits or ‘kudos’ from maintaining this illusion.
Second, it comes about because of a reductionist approach to development which divides social, economic and ecological functions into separate, unrelated ‘boxes’, instead of seeing that these are all completely inter-dependent with each other.
Third, it comes out of a widely-held belief that humans and human society are somehow ‘separate’ from nature and from natural systems, with no understanding that whatever happens to natural systems will ultimately affect what happens to humans.

Belief in this myth is leading us to the brink of catastrophic ecological collapse which threatens the foundations of modern civilization. Climate change, the collapse of vast sea fisheries, doubling of reactive nitrogen and tripling of phosphorous since 1960, mass conversion of biomes - primarily to agriculture, a 6th great extinction of species due to habitat loss, and declining genetic diversity are all symptoms of a belief in this myth. And now it is being used as justification to put the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism at risk by ill-conceived corporate driven infrastructure proposals in the form of the N2 Toll road ‘Wild Coast’ extension and the mining venture.

Surely it is time to debunk this myth once and for all for the unmitigated rubbish that it is, and advance development proposals that improve the capacity of our natural systems to deliver ‘natural capital’ in support of human society, and thus enhance benefits to society as a whole, rather than insisting on development strategies that degrade our life-supporting systems?

http://docs.google.com/View?docid=dgkvztcd_95f7k2zxhj

Xolobeni, Mzamba, and finally Port Edward, mark the Northenmost boundary of the Transkei Wild Coast, and fall into the famous Pondoland Center of Endemism.

New tourism ventures will be springing up in this area that is being threatened with strip mining for titanium.

For up to date information on the mining saga: www.wildcoast.com/xolobeni

If you want to explore the threatened area from Mzamba to Xolobeni, passing the Cretaceous Deposits and Petrified Forest at Mzamba River, Benny the Tour Guide can be contacted on 079-1985 975 / or through Sonya on 074-336 7862 - for a guided day-trip.

We will be adding further links as they become available.

In the meantime, if you're coming to the Wild Coast and you're looking for a detour along the way, or perhaps you've visited us and are on your way North towards Durban and Mocambique; here is a helpful link to some tourism destinations on the KZN South Coast: www.gosouthcoast.co.za

By Judi Davis
South Coast Herald
17 October 2008

Conservationists believe an eco-tourism partnership between the South Coast and the Wild Coast could sound the death knell for dune mining.

Sustaining the Wild Coast anti-dune mining campaigners have described the postponement of the Xolobeni mining license as a "stay of execution".

"However, to ensure that the Xolobeni death sentence is permanently abolished we have to ensure sustainable development for the Wild Coast." said a spokesperson for the organisation, John Clarke.

He was referring to the about-turn the minister of Minerals and Energy, Buyelwa Sonjica, has made regarding the Xolobeni mining project.

Earlier this year the minister gave Transworld Energy and Minerals, the SA subsidiary of Australian company, Mineral Resource Commodities (ASX:MRC), the go-ahead to mine a section of the dunes in the Xolobeni area of the Wild Coast.

She had agreed to sign the mining license at the end of this month. However the minister now says she will only sign it after an appeal has been heard and after further consultation with affected communities.

Mr Clarke believed this process would take up to a year. In the meantime, he said the mining saga had produced at least one major benefit for the Wild Coast.

A number of South Coast business people were already looking at ways to create employment opportunities for Xolobeni, through sustainable development.

They are now trying to revive ailing eco-tourism initiatives. A number of South Coast business people have come up with new ideas too," said Mr Clarke.

A dynamic South Coast and Wild Coast partnership to promote eco-tourism would benefit both areas, he believed.

"Both areas boast a rich botanical diversity. However, extensive development on the South Coast has meant that many floral species, including some that were endemic to the area, have disappeared on our side of the border.
"South Coast residents would therefore benefit from preserving the Wild Coast's floral wealth. There is a growing interest in the indigenous flora of South Africa. With the South Coast's backingbusiness expertise and tourism experience, the Wild Coast could well be marketed as a floral destination." he said.

Eco-tourism projects that have been put forward by South Coast business people are walking and mountain bike trail, wild flower reserves and a vulture restaurant at Mtentu.

"The mining has been kicked so far into touch that they have lost sight of the ball. While they are looking for the ball, let's get started on a new game." said Mr Clarke.

The game his organisation plans to kickstart is the building up of a sustainable Wild Coast eco-tourism industry.

Throughout the storm surrounding the controversial mine approved at Xolobeni on the Wild Coast, the statement that "ecotourism has failed on the Wild Coast" has repeatedly been stated.

Bulungula Lodge is, apparently, the only lodge to be "approved" officially since 1994 on the Wild Coast and as such, our experiences are relevant to this debate.

The Wild Coast is potentially one of the world's greatest community-based, ecotourism destinations.Nothing compares with this spectacular coast inhabited by vibrant, traditional communities of amaBomvana, amaMpondomise and many others living simple rural lives in harmony with their environment. Mud huts on rolling green hills overlooking jagged cliffs and pristine beaches frequented by cows and the occasional eland, endless lagoons and forests add up to one of South Africa's most striking and marketable vistas.

But make no mistake, although it may seem a rural paradise on the surface, these communities are in the middle of a dehumanising poverty crisis. It has been my great privilege to become part of a traditional amaBomvana community and to experience the joy of a strong, supportive community where everyone knows everyone and everyone's cousin's children.

Here ubuntu is not discussed by intellectuals, it is lived. But as a member of this community I cannot ignore the reality that last year in just three months we buried six babies who died from diarrhoea.

The communities of the Wild Coast drink from polluted waterholes shared with dogs and livestock, there are no toilets, clinics are rare, ambulances don't exist and schools are mostly diabolical.

There is nothing romantic about being trapped in a hut with a pregnant wife having a cystercicosis-induced epileptic fit without any medical help.

In this context what are the prospects for sustainable development on the Wild Coast?

Sustainable development is defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The Wild Coast clearly needs urgent intervention to address the appalling poverty in the region.

Most of the problems listed above would be addressed by effective service delivery and this should be made an urgent priority. But when it comes to the creation of sustainable jobs, it's government's role to create an enabling environment for the private sector to create wealth.

When looking at the Wild Coast there are two industries that stand out as having potential for sustainable development: agriculture and tourism. I believe Bulungula Lodge's story will give insight into the reasons tourism has apparently failed to deliver.

Bulungula Lodge is a community-based eco-lodge owned jointly by the community of Nqileni village (40%) and myself, a private investor (60%). The lodge was built with capital of R800 000 and has created 20 permanent jobs in a community where there was previously 100% unemployment. The lodge has also facilitated the creation of 13 community-owned tourism businesses that provide services ranging from massages to fresh vegetables to forest tours with the herbalist. In total these small businesses have created another 23 jobs bringing the total employment generated by this entire project to 43 long-term jobs.

In addition to the community's share, lodge profits have been used to build a classroom at the local school which collapsed years ago.

The culture of Bulungula Lodge is an open one -- there are no fences, keys or locks here. Community members are welcome in the restaurant and bar at any time of the day or night and it is this cooperative environment that has resulted in crime being non-existent here. The unique atmosphere has resulted in Bulungula receiving many accolades,including being named by the UK's Guardian as one of the World's Top 10 Fair Trade destinations, as well as being named by the prestigious Rough Guide as one of the world's top 25 Ultimate Ethical Travel Experiences.

But to understand why the Wild Coast is not teeming with similar community-based lodges, it is necessary to understand the tortuous process required to have the lodge approved.

In December 2002 the community of Nqileni village and I discussed and agreed on the establishment of a community-based eco-lodge as a joint venture. A proposal was produced and presented, using the Eastern Cape government's Wild Coast Tourism Development Policy as a blueprint and working in partnership with the provincial departments of environmental affairs and land affairs.

After completing the necessary environmental report, permission was swiftly obtained from the department of environmental affairs. The difficult part was getting the necessary lease issued by the department of land affairs.

It is important to note that this department is run by a number of overworked, under-resourced people who are mostly operating within a procedural vacuum. As a lease had at that stage not been issued on the Wild Coast there was no precedent to follow.

This resulted in a ridiculously complicated process which invariably resulted in officials trying to pass the responsibility upwards to officials with greater authority.

Finally, in March 2004, an interim lease (the first apparently) was granted, which was to be used during the building of Bulungula Lodge while we waited for the long lease (30 years) to be signed by the national minister of land affairs within six months. This long lease application then proceeded on a bizarre, convoluted journey between various offices within the department of land affairs in Pretoria for two years, after which the folder was lost in mid-2007.

For the past 18 months the DLA has been unable to locate the folder nor get a photocopy of the duplicate folder held in the provincial office. Thus the entire lodge currently operates on the basis of an interim lease that could be revoked at any time.

There have been dozens of similar attempts by investors wanting to start ecotourism businesses in partnership with local communities on the Wild Coast, but all have failed to escape the administrative maze required to have their projects approved. It is not that these projects were rejected for being inappropriate, but rather that the whole process of applying for permission took so long that the investors simply gave up.

So what is the solution? It is critical that the provincial government create a Wild Coast Investment "one-stop-shop" where potential investors can submit their applications to be assessed by officials from all of the relevant departments.

A sensible approval process must be created in line with the Wild Coast Tourism Development Policy that has realistic and acceptable time scales. This office will need to be well resourced with skills and money to assess correctly and speedily the viability of proposed projects.

In addition this office should pro-actively identify and finalise leases for, say, 10 sites prior to inviting investors to tender bids to be the private-sector partner for the local communities.

Ultimately, it is time to face up to the absurd reality that it is easier to get permission to strip-mine pristine coastline and in the process destroy a people's way of life than to get permission to build a community-based lodge that would create the desperately needed employment while keeping both the people's land and their culture mostly in tact.

David Martin is co-owner of the Bulungula Lodge: www.bulungula.com

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-09-17-wild-coast-needs-a-onestop-touris...

 

WHY MINING THE WILD COAST IS A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 
By John G.I. Clarke

Please sign the online petition linked here before 19 September 2008:

If you possibly can, please also download, print, sign and submit the original petition: www.swc.org.za/petition.pdf

The Department of Minerals and Energy has announced that it intends awarding a mining licence to Australian mining company MRC on 31 October 2008 to mine the Kwanyana Block of the Amadiba Tribal Administrative Area, on the Pondoland Wild Coast. This announcement has been made before the SA Human Rights Commission has completed its investigation into human rights violations lodged by local residents allegedly perpetrated by agents of MRC.

If the Minister of Minerals and Energy signs the mining licence and Environmental Management Plan on 31 October, we believe it would be in gross violation of the Constitution of South Africa, notably the Environmental Right enshrined in Section 24 which states.....

“Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development”.

We believe the Minister will be in breach of the oath of office she made to “uphold the constitution of the Republic of South Africa” upon her swearing as a cabinet minister because the Xolobeni Mineral Sands venture has been shown to fall very far short of “justifiable economic and social development”, for the following reasons.

  • Seven of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution have been violated by the mining company and its supporters. The attached report by the HRC includes the complaint, and reports on its observations and conclusions. The allegations have not been contested by any party named.
  • The report explains that in the process of investigating the allegations, the HRC found that the Departments of Minerals and Energy and the Environmental Affairs and Tourism “were not on the same page with respect to the proposed development”, and that the “overwhelming majority” of the approximately 3000 directly affected local residents “were opposed to the venture”.
  • Since the HRC report was published in November 2007, it was further found that the public participation process for the conduct of the EIA was grossly biased in failing to ensure those residents most affected by the mining proposal were capacitated to participate meaningfully. Besides failing to educate the local residents, meetings were held some distance away from the mining area. In one instance when a local resident Nontle Mbuthuma raised objections to this, she was forcibly evicted from the meeting by an employee of the mining company (see report by East London Daily Dispatch).
  • All relevant authorities have not been in full compliance with the relevant statutes: the Mineral and Petroleum Resources’ Development Act (MPDRA), the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), and the Interim Protection of Indigenous Land Rights Act (IPILRA). The HRC asked for documentation from the relevant Departments (DME, DEAT, and the Department of Land Affairs). The departments only responded after the HRC was forced to issue the respective ministers with a subpoena compelling them to respond. They complied hours before the subpoena hearing was due to start, forcing the Chair Commissioner Leon Wessels to adjourn the hearing to give the HRC time to study the 11th hour submission by DME.
  • Shortly before the Ministerial Subpoena hearing, an evaluation report on the EIA by DEAT officials was obtained by SWC, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, which in fact revealed major contradictions between DEAT and DME interests. The DEAT report has advised that “The mining is a short-term economic activity with long-term negative impacts whereas the ecotourism in the area has an unlimited life span,” concluding with a strong recommendation that the mining licence should not be awarded, given available information. It emerged that the DEAT report had not been submitted to DME before the 21 Dec 2007, deadline, and would have been disregarded, had SWC not obtained it.
  • The mining venture is in both its parts and its whole a wasting activity in that it entails the use of and impact upon eco-system services provided by nature (water, energy, and soils) for the extraction of non-renewable mineral resources for industrial applications, in such a manner that these eco-systems will be degraded in their capacity to provide for sustainable livelihoods once the minerals have been extracted. It will thus destroy the local resource base upon which community based sustainable development is absolutely dependent.
  • The mining is serving the short-term vested interests of a few local elites and a foreign corporation, and the impacts will result in greater poverty and social disintegration in the area due to the very limited benefits it will bring to alleviate material poverty and raise basic living standards.
  • The mining venture will not only hamper the viability of lon-term sustainable development initiatives, but will also continue to negatively impact upon already existing eco-tourism enterprises, and destroy fledgling community development processes along the Wild Coast.
  • The mining venture is in conflict with several of South Africa’s agreed international obligations to sustainably conserve and manage our biodiversity and ensure benefit-sharing from such use, including under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Suggested mitigations of environmental impacts are not viable or possible (given the available data and information on which they are based), which will therefore result in the destruction of a unique, internationally recognised centre of endemism – with the risk that this will push a number of threatened (red data) endemic species to extinction due to their restricted ranges within the centre of endemism.

Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, while visiting South Africa last year, advised civil society to heed the words of Eleanor Rooseveld.

“Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Support the Sustaining the Wild Coast NPO by donating here:http://www.swc.org.za/make-a-donation/

By ROBERT LAING (September 2008)

THE Australian company given rights to strip-mine along the Wild Coast has reported heavy financial losses, and is facing legal battles that may cost it even more.

Mineral Commodities, whose chairman is Joseph Caruso, 61, and managing director Mark Caruso, 45, posted a R48million loss last year.

The Perth-based miner’s future hinges on two South African projects: the controversial Xolobeni on the Wild Coast and Tormin on the West Coast.

These it hopes to finance from its 5.7 percent stake in London AIM- listed Allied Gold, which operates mines in Papua New Guinea.

The latest facts emerging about the company have increased criticism that the Department of Minerals and Energy did not check the company’s financial standing thoroughly enough when it awarded the licence to mine in an environmental hot-spot .

Apart from the financial check, the Department of Environment and Tourism (Deat) concluded its report on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) with: “The department has grave concerns with regard to the proposed mining developments in the area and objects to it.

“Several crucial aspects and specialist studies are lacking. From the documentation submitted, it is clear that the accepted and adopted planning and policy guidelines for the area have not been taken into consideration and several of the legislative requirements have not been met.

“No time frames or schedules are included to indicate whether they will be adhered to.

“Deat has not received the application for the listed activities in terms of the EIA regulations under the National Environmental Management Act.

“This alone is an almost fatal flaw in the public process to be followed.”

In addition to the Deat’s rejection of the EIA , the SA Human Rights Commission alleged that the required community support for the controversial project had been obtained “Mafia-style”.

Furthermore, far from representing the community, the Caruso family’s black economic empowerment partners appear to consist mainly of brothers Zamile and Bashin Qunya, who happen to be Mineral Commodities employees.

Ben Trovato - Whipping Boy

7 September 2008

Rt Hon Madame Buyelwa Sonjica
Minister of Minerals and Energy
Private Bag X59
Pretoria 0001

Dear Minister,

Congratulations on your decision to allow the Australians to mine the Wild Coast. As a child, my parents would force me to accompany them on camping trips to Mtentu estuary. I look back on those times with hatred in my heart. I always seemed to have sand up my nose and a bluebottle down my bathing costume. The sun was too hot and the water too cold. Once a crab almost took off my foot, and I remember looking at the estuary and thinking that one day someone will come along and destroy you. And I will laugh.

Now, after all these years, I finally get to have my laugh. Thank you for that. You are a magnificent woman and I wouldn’t hesitate to marry you if we both weren’t married already.

I see in the papers that the bunny-hugging lentil munchers are after your blood. How dare they? This country has more nature than it knows what to do with and I, for one, would far rather visit a titanium strip mine than a stupid lagoon and a bunch of dumb trees. After being forced to waste two years of your life as minister of water affairs and forestry, I am not surprised that you feel the same as I do.

I understand that for the Australians to get to the titanium, they are going to have to flatten the coastal dunes. This is wonderful news. In my opinion, there is nothing more useless than a sand dune. It just sits there, year after year, contributing nothing to the national economy. A bit like the local people, I suppose.

The Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project — which should win you a Nobel prize — will offer the natives the opportunity to earn an honest living.

Being a sensitive nation keenly aware of its social responsibilities, the Australians will doubtlessly reward the indigenous tribes by providing them with all the benefits that an international mining company brings to an area. Obviously, there will be free programmes to deal with alcohol abuse, and penicillin jabs for those who contract syphilis. But there will also be schools, hospitals, gymnasiums, sports fields, golf estates, equestrian centres, bottle stores, brothels and theme parks for the kids to enjoy when dad takes his annual day off from the mine.

I was relieved to hear that you granted the licence to our antipodean comrades without consulting the people who live along this unproductive stretch of coastline. Peasants will talk until the cows come home, but it all falls apart once you bring out the paperwork. Twenty years ago, my father asked a local headman if we could camp on his land, and the village elders are still considering his request.

You are a cabinet minister and you do not need anyone’s permission to do anything. Don’t worry about that meddling lawyer, Richard Spoor, and his spurious claims that the mining licence is illegal. You have already pointed out at a public meeting that he is a white man and nothing more needs to be said. His credibility is in tatters.

SA would not be where it is today without people who understand the value of exploitation.

Yours sincerely,

Ben Trovato

(http://www.thetimes.co.za/Careers/Article.aspx?id=837204)

YOLANDI GROENEWALD - Aug 28 2008 06:00

Thirteen years ago a strong environmental campaign saved the St Lucia dunes from being mined. This time the Minerals and Energy Department will not be swayed by public opinion, a senior official told the Mail & Guardian this week.

"The St Lucia decision was a political decision that had the ANC's support," said Jacinto Rocha, department deputy director-general. "At Xolobeni it is significantly different."

The region, one of the poorest in South Africa, needs mining desperately, Rocha said, explaining last month's decision to grant Australian company Mineral Commodities the right to strip-mine a 22km stretch on the Wild Coast.

"People argue that ecotourism is the best option for the people there, but where has ecotourism ever attracted major investment?" Rocha said. "Mining helps to pay the Kruger Park's electricity bills. Without the capital that mining brings, you couldn't have parks like Kruger."

Rocha said the mining consortium's application was faultless andthe department had no reason to refuse it -- in fact, it could have been sued if it did so without good reason.

Activists from Sustaining the Wild Coast challenged Rocha's claims. Its director, John Clarke, said there were huge problems with the consultation process and the behaviour of the Australian company.

There have been numerous reports of intimidation and foul play during the mining application process, prompting the South African Human Rights Commission's intervention.

Despite the huge public backlash, it appears opponents of mining were caught napping -- Rocha said the department had not received a single objection during the 30-day objections period. "They are making a big noise outside, but they did not make the right noises through the right channels," he said.

People were wasting their time "toyi-toyiing on a beach" and should follow correct procedures by lodging an official appeal with the department or going to court, said Rocha.

http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-08-28-xolobeni-mining-cant-be-stopped

The contents of the petition follow below.

Please download, print, sign and submit this petition: www.swc.org.za/petition.pdf

WHY MINING THE WILD COAST IS A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS By John G.I. Clarke

The Department of Minerals and Energy has announced that it intends awarding a mining licence to Australian mining company MRC on 31 October 2008 to mine the Kwanyana Block of the Amadiba Tribal Administrative Area, on the Pondoland Wild Coast. This announcement has been made before the SA Human Rights Commission has completed its investigation into human rights violations lodged by local residents allegedly perpetrated by agents of MRC.

If the Minister of Minerals and Energy signs the mining licence and Environmental Management Plan on 31 October, we believe it would be in gross violation of the Constitution of South Africa, notably the Environmental Right enshrined in Section 24 which states.....

“Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development”. We believe the Minister will be in breach of the oath of office she made to “uphold the constitution of the Republic of South Africa” upon her swearing as a cabinet minister because the Xolobeni Mineral Sands venture has been shown to fall very far short of “justifiable economic and social development”, for the following reasons.

  • Seven of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution have been violated by the mining company and its supporters. The attached report by the HRC includes the complaint, and reports on its observations and conclusions. The allegations have not been contested by any party named.
  • The report explains that in the process of investigating the allegations, the HRC found that the Departments of Minerals and Energy and the Environmental Affairs and Tourism “were not on the same page with respect to the proposed development”, and that the “overwhelming majority” of the approximately 3000 directly affected local residents “were opposed to the venture”.
  • Since the HRC report was published in November 2007, it was further found that the public participation process for the conduct of the EIA was grossly biased in failing to ensure those residents most affected by the mining proposal were capacitated to participate meaningfully. Besides failing to educate the local residents, meetings were held some distance away from the mining area. In one instance when a local resident Nontle Mbuthuma raised objections to this, she was forcibly evicted from the meeting by an employee of the mining company (see report by East London Daily Dispatch).
  • All relevant authorities have not been in full compliance with the relevant statutes: the Mineral and Petroleum Resources’ Development Act (MPDRA), the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA), and the Interim Protection of Indigenous Land Rights Act (IPILRA). The HRC asked for documentation from the relevant Departments (DME, DEAT, and the Department of Land Affairs). The departments only responded after the HRC was forced to issue the respective ministers with a subpoena compelling them to respond. They complied hours before the subpoena hearing was due to start, forcing the Chair Commissioner Leon Wessels to adjourn the hearing to give the HRC time to study the 11th hour submission by DME.
  • Shortly before the Ministerial Subpoena hearing, an evaluation report on the EIA by DEAT officials was obtained by SWC, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, which in fact revealed major contradictions between DEAT and DME interests. The DEAT report has advised that “The mining is a short-term economic activity with long-term negative impacts whereas the ecotourism in the area has an unlimited life span,” concluding with a strong recommendation that the mining licence should not be awarded, given available information. It emerged that the DEAT report had not been submitted to DME before the 21 Dec 2007, deadline, and would have been disregarded, had SWC not obtained it.
  • The mining venture is in both its parts and its whole a wasting activity in that it entails the use of and impact upon eco-system services provided by nature (water, energy, and soils) for the extraction of non-renewable mineral resources for industrial applications, in such a manner that these eco-systems will be degraded in their capacity to provide for sustainable livelihoods once the minerals have been extracted. It will thus destroy the local resource base upon which community based sustainable development is absolutely dependent.
  • The mining is serving the short-term vested interests of a few local elites and a foreign corporation, and the impacts will result in greater poverty and social disintegration in the area due to the very limited benefits it will bring to alleviate material poverty and raise basic living standards.
  • The mining venture will not only hamper the viability of lon-term sustainable development initiatives, but will also continue to negatively impact upon already existing eco-tourism enterprises, and destroy fledgling community development processes along the Wild Coast.
  • The mining venture is in conflict with several of South Africa’s agreed international obligations to sustainably conserve and manage our biodiversity and ensure benefit-sharing from such use, including under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • Suggested mitigations of environmental impacts are not viable or possible (given the available data and information on which they are based), which will therefore result in the destruction of a unique, internationally recognised centre of endemism – with the risk that this will push a number of threatened (red data) endemic species to extinction due to their restricted ranges within the centre of endemism.
  • Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, while visiting South Africa last year, advised civil society to heed the words of Eleanor Rooseveld. “Where, after all, do universal rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” Support the Sustaining the Wild Coast NPO by donating here: http://www.swc.org.za/make-a-donation/

The Democratic Alliance says it is disappointed by the decision of the Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs to grant a mining right to Mineral Resource Commodities (MRC) to mine a portion of the Xolobeni Mineral Sands Project.

"The site of this mining right is along the Wild Coast, one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots," said Gareth Morgan, the party's environment spokesperson, on Tuesday

Morgan said while it was true the area in which the right to mining had been granted was one of the most impoverished places in South Africa, at best, only a few hundred jobs will be created from the mining. He said the potential to create new jobs in the eco-tourism sector -- which, along an unspoiled coastline would have far exceeded the opportunities created by mining -- might now be diminished.

Morgan said he feared that additional rights could be granted in the near future to increase the area that was to be mined.

"It is therefore important that the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism makes use of provisions under the Integrated Coastal Management Bill to prohibit the granting of any more rights along this area of coastline," Morgan said.

"The Coastal Bill is due to be passed by the NCOP [National Council of Provinces] in the next month, which will conclude its passage through Parliament."

He also said it was regrettable that the department bungled its opportunity to participate in the process surrounding this particular mining application. The department failed to submit its objections in
time, he said.

"DEAT will need to improve its performance if it wishes to protect the remaining areas of the Wild Coast under prospecting rights," Morgan said.

- I-Net Bridge

More info: http://www.miningweekly.com/article.php?a_id=139849

By Val Payn

One is tempted to call it Pondoland’s long walk for freedom. In essence, it was a coming together of diverse people and communities of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ to express their concern about proposals to open cast mine, for titanium, the coastal dunes of this pristine environment. All expressed apprehension that the mining proposal is an environmentally damaging type of development that none of them wanted, and that none could see much benefit from for their communities.

Eighteen kilometers is a long way to walk on beach sand, but the old and the young, the fit and the ‘could be fitter’, the poor and the better off, joined together in mutual comradeship and peace in an eloquent democratic protest to express support for development that shares prosperity amongst poor communities while keeping the environment intact.

The elders, headmen and chiefs of the five communities who live upon the land to be mined, and who therefore will be most immediately affected by the mining, expressed their concerns most eloquently. They talked of how the forefathers of their forefathers are buried in the earth there; of generational links to the land which the mining will rip apart; of the dependency of their culture and their lifestyle on an undamaged environment, with grass on which their livestock can feed, and healthy soil in which to grow their crops; of how they wish to pass their land and culture intact to future generations. They spoke with pride of a culture with deep connections and respect for the landscape, which was now threatened by a ‘foreign invasion’ from a foreign mining company. They spoke about how poverty prevented them from going to Pretoria in protest so they could have their voices heard, unlike those wealthier ones whose riches enable them to lobby for the mining in the corridors of power.

So it was also a walk about democracy; about the rights of common people and communities to be able to have a voice in the sort of future they want for themselves and their children.

Ironically, these communities managed to survive the worst ravages of the cultural and social breakdown of apartheid and they managed to survive the manipulations of the colonial era which would divest them of the power to choice over their land. Now, in the era of so called freedom, these communities face the greatest challenge yet in the form of a foreign invader who comes to exploit them in the name of ‘economic development’ and ‘poverty relief’, and with decisions made by far away politicians who will never have to live with the immediate consequences of those decisions,.

Those in the corridors of power who support such environmentally and socially destructive development as the proposed mining favour the foreign cash that the exports of minerals earns, which fills the coffers of GDP and makes the nation’s economy look good. But what those who hold GDP as hallowed neglect to mention, is that GDP does not measure how wealth is distributed, nor does it measure many of the negative costs that are unaccounted for in economic reckoning. Study after study shows that increased GDP does not necessarily result in poverty relief, and in many cases GDP is merely a reflection of increased wealth in some sectors, not necessarily a better quality of life across the board. In many cases, even when GDP is increasing, levels of poverty are also increasing if the wealth reflected by GDP is only going to a few.

Also, as the United Nations Millennium EcoAssessment report states, ‘the degradation of ecosystem services represents loss of a capital asset’, and points out that when the loss of natural capital through unsustainable use is factored into GDP, many countries that show a positive growth in GDP are actually experiencing a nett loss of capital. The impacts of loss of natural capital are felt most keenly and immediately by those with a subsistence way of life whose livelihoods depend most heavily on healthy natural systems.

The common people and elders of the Wild Coast Walk recognized this. They recognized that there can be no future prosperity for all unless there is a respectful use for the environment that upholds us all. They recognize that the mining might bring some wealth to some, but in all likelihood will bring greater poverty to many, and great social and environmental upheaval. They see that poverty relief lies in finding ways of using the resources of the earth with deference and wisdom, so that those natural systems that uphold human life are not destroyed but bring shared benefits to all.

It is a theme that is being repeated by common people in many, many areas of the world who are tired of environmentally exploitative practices that occur in the name of development and economic progress, but in reality leave locals and local environments worse off, while a few make a handsome profit out of the deal.

If authorities continue to take a short –sighted economic view ignores the rights of common people to have a voice in the future they would like to see, and the dependency of the well being of humanity on healthy functioning eco-systems, they do so at their peril.

Val Payn is a founder member of Sustaining the Wild Coast. She writes this in her personal capacity.

Val can be contacted on the following email address: swcoastval@gmail.com.

Holiday makers and South Coast Residents are invited to join a Spring Tide Beach March on Sunday 20th July from the Wild Coast Sun resort to Nyameni Estuary, to show their solidarity with the five communities of the Amadiba Tribal Area on the Pondoland Wild Coast who vehemently oppose the dune mining venture.

The next suitable spring low tide will occur on Sunday, 20th July 2008. All are invited to join a solidarity walk confirming our concern about mining, and our support for local eco tourism - starting from the Wild Coast Sun at 7.30am to either the petrified forest at the Mzamba River mouth 4km, or Mlulwane Estuary - 9 km or Mnyamene - 18km (distances are total out and back) and see for yourself just how special our Wild Coast is and just why we must all do everything we can to ensure that it is sustainably conserved for future generations.

Participants need to cater for their own drinks and food for the walk.

SUPPORTING WILD COAST ENDEMIC ECO TOURISM

For further info contact David Halle on: 039 312 2448 or cell: 082 300 4283 or email: marfurn@telkomsa.net

"In response to a complaint lodged last July by local residents alleging that seven of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution had been violated by the mining company and its supporters, the SA Human Rights Commission concluded in a report released in November 2007 that DME and DEAT “were not on the same page with respect to the proposed development”, and that the “overwhelming majority” of the approximately 3000 directly affected local residents “were opposed to the venture”."

For the full article by John Clark: http://www.swc.org.za/update-on-the-current-state-of-play-in-the-wild-co...

Extracts from the article:

"The DEAT report confirmed that a major contradiction existed between DEAT and DME interests, with DEAT advising that “The mining is a short-term economic activity with long-term negative impacts whereas the ecotourism in the area has an unlimited life span. One of the economic activities of the area may not impact negatively on other sustainable activities in the area” and concluding with a strong recommendation that the mining license should not be awarded, given available information."

"What next?
It is rumoured that DME are about to announce their decision this week. If it is positive, not only will it enable SWC and the Amadiba Crisis Committee to finally proceed with the planned court action to convince the High Court to set aside the decision, but perhaps it will also explain why MRC director Gregory Steemson was so eager to buy 200,000 shares at rock bottom prices, hoping for an immediate surge in the share price when the announcement is made.
It is also rumoured that DME have told MRC that they will only approve the application on condition that the block between Sikombe and Kwanyana estuaries is excluded, - effectively halving the area to be mined - and only if MRC ensures more local beneficiation, (i.e. a smelter)."

Full article:
Two years ago the MRC Ltd website spoke of the Xolobeni Mineral Sands venture as “the catalyst for socio-economic development of the impoverished area” and claimed “unanimous support” from the municipal authorities, local residents and even King and Queen of the AmaPondo. It also claimed to be fully supportive of eco-tourism development, maintaining that its mining operations would in fact “rehabilitate the degraded dunes” and stem the silting up of the estuaries “due to poor agricultural practices”.

When the Mining Rights Application was submitted on 30 March last year, MRC proclaimed it a “milestone”. Its share price reached an all time high of 36c, but this was quickly followed by a steady decline as institutional investors started having second thoughts after it became clear that MRC was grossly exaggerating the merits and appeal of the venture, and as media reports began to expose the manipulation, dishonesty and intimidation by mining company employees in their efforts to obtain the manipulated consent of the local residents for the mining scheme.

The MRC share price is currently hovering at around 14c, with the only recent significant trade coming from the purchase of 200 000 shares by Gregory Steemson – who happens to be a non-executive director of MRC, and therefore obliged to disclose personal trade in company shares. The above chart shows MRC’s share price and volumes movement since April 2005 to the present.
DME imposed extremely tight deadlines for the completion of the Environmental Impact Assessment

Report (EIA) and the formulation of a satisfactory Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for mitigating the negative impact of the envisaged 22 year open cast dune mining operation, known as the Xolobeni Mineral Sands venture. Effective processes for meaningful Public Participation were therefore seriously constrained, as the Environmental Consultants, GCS (Pty) Ltd, worked to complete their work before 21st December 2007. It was expected that DME would announce their decision in early January 2008. Contrary to expectations, no announcement was made then, and at the time of writing (1 July 2008) DME was still non-committal.
The following facts help contextualise the current state of affairs.

In response to a complaint lodged last July by local residents alleging that seven of the fundamental human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution had been violated by the mining company and its supporters, the SA Human Rights Commission concluded in a report released in November 2007 that DME and DEAT “were not on the same page with respect to the proposed development”, and that the “overwhelming majority” of the approximately 3000 directly affected local residents “were opposed to the venture”.

The HRC asked for documentation from these departments, as well as from the Department of Land Affairs, to convince them that all relevant authorities had been in full compliance with the relevant statutes: the Mineral and Petroleum Resources’ Development Act (MPDRA), the National Environmental Managment Act (NEMA), and the Interim Protection of Indigenous Land Rights Act (IPILRA). The departments only responded after the HRC was forced to issue the respective ministers with a subpoena compelling them to comply.

The three departments eventually complied on 20th April 2008, hours before the ministerial subpoena hearing was due to start. The hearing was adjourned to give the HRC time to study the 11th hour submission by DME. The SAHRC refused our request for access to the documentation submitted by the relevant departments, and it is therefore not known what the departments are claiming with respect to compliance with legislation.

Shortly before the HRC Ministerial Subpoena hearing, an application was made under the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), for a copy of DEAT’s evaluation of the EIA/EMP reports, which it had compiled as a summation of comments received from a range of environmental and tourism specialist officials employed in government service at both the Eastern Cape Provincial and the National level. The DEAT report confirmed that a major contradiction existed between DEAT and DME interests, with DEAT advising that “The mining is a short-term economic activity with long-term negative impacts whereas the ecotourism in the area has an unlimited life span. One of the economic activities of the area may not impact negatively on other sustainable activities in the area” and concluding with a strong recommendation that the mining license should not be awarded, given available information.

It subsequently emerged that the DEAT evaluation report was not in fact submitted to DME before the deadline of 21st December 2007 due to “an administrative error that occurred during the festive season, and could in all likelihood be attributed to the fact that we were at the time functioning on a skeleton structure”, according to the Acting DG at the time, Ms Nosipho Jezile (now recently confirmed as DG of DEAT).

After being questioned by opposition spokesperson on Environmental Affairs Gareth Morgan, the Ms Jezile apologised for this, and assured parliament that “failure to submit on time was due to an administrative error. Whilst the response was signed by the Acting Chief Director: Environmental Impact Management and uploaded on the departmental electronic document management system on 20 December 2007 for the Director General’s consideration, senior management was not alerted to the urgency of the matter due to staff being away over the festive season. Follow-up was only made after the due date.

In light of previous refusal by the DME to extend time frames or to accept late comments, the comments were only submitted to DME in March after verbal agreement was reached with the DME in this regard.
Corrective measures have however been put in place to prevent such an error from re-occurring.”

What next?

It is rumoured that DME are about to announce their decision this week. If it is positive, not only will it enable SWC and the Amadiba Crisis Committee to finally proceed with the planned court action to convince the High Court to set aside the decision, but perhaps it will also explain why MRC director Gregory Steemson was so eager to buy 200,000 shares at rock bottom prices, hoping for an immediate surge in the share price when the announcement is made.
It is also rumoured that DME have told MRC that they will only approve the application on condition that the block between Sikombe and Kwanyana estuaries is excluded, - effectively halving the area to be mined - and only if MRC ensures more local beneficiation, (i.e. a smelter).

If this information is correct, it suggests that DME may be looking to find a compromise in response to DEAT’s strong objections, notably to the perceived threats to the Mkambati and Mntentu eco-tourism activities.
Moreover, it is likely that by having DME insist that MRC also include the construction of a smelter in the Eastern Cape in their plans (as originally envisaged), the financial feasibility of the controversial proposal to construct a new high speed Toll Road along the coast will be enhanced. Trucking the concentrate to a site in the Eastern Cape (with East London the most likely) will lead to a mutually reinforcing synergy between the interests of the construction, trucking and mining interests.
For such corporate enterprises sustainability means the continuing financial and commercial sustainability, by maximising the profitable return on investment as quickly as possible.

In contrast Sustaining the Wild Coast pleads for a far sighted vision that, while recognising the advantages of a system of free markets, seeks to optimise benefits to all stakeholders in a restorative economy that serves life, rather than the reverse.
“Sustainability is an economic state where the demands placed upon the environment by people and commerce can be met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations. It can also be expressed in the simple terms of an economic golden rule for the restorative economy: Leave the world better than you found it, take no more than you need, try not to harm life or the environment, make amends if you do.” ~Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce

http://www.dispatch.co.za/article.aspx?id=197857 - Daily Dispatch article - 30 April 2008

http://www.dispatch.co.za/multimedia/enviroA.pdf
http://www.dispatch.co.za/multimedia/enviroB.pdf

ENVIRONMENTAL Affairs officials had “grave concerns” over the proposed mining at Xolobeni in Transkei – but only objected after deadlines for submissions had closed.

They said the mining would have a significant and permanent impact on several rivers and estuaries.

Their objections were contained in a letter written by Pamela Yako, the former director-general of the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

“The department has grave concerns with regard to the proposed mining developments in the area and object to it,” said Yako, in her December 20, 2007, letter addressed to the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME).

Yako’s letter was in response to a draft environmental impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) on the proposed mining at the Wild Coast.

Australia’s Mineral’s Commodities, its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources, and BEE partner Xolobeni Empowerment Company have applied to mine dunes at Xolobeni for titanium.

Yako’s letter became public knowledge this week after social worker John Clarke, a board member of Sustaining the Wild Coast Association, obtained documents using the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

But DME spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said Yako’s “response came way too late after due processes”.

Khumalo said, however, his department’s officials would talk to Environmental Affairs about issues raised in the letter. “No doubt we will take them into account when we take a decision,” Khumalo said. “They are not new. They have been raised before by them.”

In the six-page letter, Yako said the application for mining should be lodged with her department as a matter of urgency and comply with certain requirements as the proposal would impact on several rivers and estuaries. 1C;From the draft EIA and draft EMP, it is clear that there is a high probability that these areas will be impacted on significantly and permanently.”

Yako said specialist studies, such as on the vegetation, still had to be undertaken. “From the documentation submitted, it is clear that the accepted and adopted planning and policy guidelines for the area have not been taken into consideration and several of the legislative requirements have not been met. No time frames or schedules are included to indicate whether they will be adhered to.”

According to Yako, the impact of the mining would not only affect the Wild Coast Sun but also the Mkambati Nature Reserve.

“This was not assessed in the study and is of concern to this department, Eastern Cape Parks, as well as the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs.”

Yako said Environmental Affairs and other authorities had identified several grey areas, and documents submitted needed to be redrafted.

“It is the further view of the department that the Department of Mineral and Energy should not take a decision on the mining rights before the EIA process for associated and related activities has been concluded and this department has issued a decision, whether positive or negative, on the application.”

<a href="http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/topstories.aspx?ID=BD4A754328">Bus... Day article</a>
By Franny Rabkin - 23 April 2008

CONFUSION reigned at a South African Human Rights Commission hearing yesterday into a dispute over the right to exploit mineral sands at Xolobeni, on the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape.

The ministers of minerals and energy , agriculture and land affairs, and environmental affairs and tourism were subpoenaed to appear before the commission, which is trying to investigate the problem.

Xolobeni residents disagree over the possibility of a mining licence being granted to an Australian company, Mineral Resources , and its South African subsidiary, Transworld Energy Minerals.

Some support it, in the hope that it will bring development. Others are against it on environmental grounds.

Commissioner Leon Wessels expressed his disappointment that the ministers had to be subpoenaed before they would co-operate with the commission’s inquiry. “Accountable and responsive government means that we all talk to one another. Somebody is failing somebody,” he said.

The commission received a complaint last year from the Amadiba Action Committee, representing those residents against the proposed mine. The committee said they were not consulted as required by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act.

The commission had tried to obtain further information — through correspondence and meetings — in order to investigate the complaint, but to no avail.

The commission then resorted to its subpoena powers.

Jacinto Rocha, deputy director-general in the minerals and energy department, said yesterday no decision had been made on the granting of the licence. On the consultation between the applicant for the mining rights and the Xolobeni community, Rocha said: “If you approach those that are for, they say they have been consulted. If you approach those that are against, they say they have not been consulted.”

The issue was further complicated by the fact that the land in question is communal.

Dali Matta, chief director in the land affairs department, said the land was held in trust by the minister on behalf of the community. Any decision the minister took had to have the consent of the community, he said. This involved a separate consultation.

Matta told the commission that the first his department heard of this issue was on April 8 , when the minister received her subpoena. This being the case, the department had not done any consultation with Xolobeni residents.

Rocha said his department had consulted the relevant departments “as far back as the date of the application (for the licence)”. He also said no objections had been made.

This was “very disturbing,” said Jennifer Joni of the commission’s legal department. The prospecting right had already been granted, and the mining licence was on the way to being granted — all with no proper consultation, she said.

Matta said it would have been preferable if a single process of consultation had been undertaken involving the land affairs department.

In response to Rocha’s saying that land affairs had been consulted from the outset of the application, he said: “No. No ways. We never heard anything.”

Wessels adjourned the proceeding indefinitely, which means that all the departments remain under subpoena until the commission gets to the bottom of the matter.

Link to Mail & Guardian article

By Yolandi Groenewald | Johannesburg, South Africa

The point on the Wild Coast where mining is planned to begin (Photo: Rogan Ward)">The point on the Wild Coast where mining is planned to begin. (Photo: Rogan Ward)</img>

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has summoned three Cabinet ministers to respond to allegations that a mining licence application led to human rights abuses. Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica, Minster of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk and Minister of Land Affairs Lulama Xingwana have been summoned to appear next Wednesday. The SAHRC is investigating whether an application to mine rare minerals on the Pondoland coast was accompanied by human rights abuses, including intimidation of opponents to the scheme.

Australian mining company Mineral Commodities applied to strip-mine a 22km scenic stretch of dunes on the Wild Coast for titanium-producing minerals in 2005.

It emerged this week that the Department of Minerals and Energy said in January that "in principle" the mining proposal would be approved. This was despite strong objections by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, which alleges that legal and policy requirements have been breached.

HRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga said the subpoenas were issued after the three ministers failed to respond to the commission's inquiries about the alleged human rights abuses. Moaga said the SAHRC wants the ministers to tell it how much consultation took place with local communities before the mining licence was issued.

The complaint that triggered the SAHRC investigation alleged that the mining proposal had led to community divisions that contributed to the failure of an eco-tourism project and that supporters of the tourism initiative had been intimidated. "The mining company allegedly went ahead with its plan to engage in mining development despite the possibility that mining might thwart the resuscitated eco-tourism project," Moaga said. He said that in a meeting with the SAHRC at the end of January the Minerals and Energy Department confirmed "that in principle the dune-mining development at Xolobeni will be approved".

"Even though the department indicated that it was in the process of granting the licence, the commission still raised the concern about whether proper consultation had taken place," Moaga said. The likely approval comes despite a strongly worded letter of objection sent to the Minerals and Energy Department by the director general of environmental affairs and tourism, Pam Yako, in December last year. She expressed concern about risks of groundwater pollution and the huge threat mining poses to biodiversity in the area. Yako wrote: "It is clear that … planning and policy guidelines for the area have not been taken into consideration." She also said the environmental impact assessment of the mining proposal had serious flaws and omissions.

Yako's letter was sent after the deadline for objections. Despite this, Minerals and Energy Department spokesperson Bheki Khumalo told reporters last weekend that her objections would be considered. He could not say when an announcement on the mining licence would be made, although it had been expected in February.

The initial SAHRC complaint was made by John Clarke, a social worker representing the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which was formed by local opponents of the mining. Clarke said human rights violated by the proposed mining included the constitutional right to an "environment that is not harmful to people's health and to have the environment protected and conserved for the benefit of present and future generations".

Van Schalkwyk will not attend the SAHRC hearing in person; his department will send a delegation instead. Moaga said the commission is happy with this arrangement.

Van Schalkwyk's spokesperson said: "Essentially this is an issue that concerns the Department of Minerals and Energy as the issues raised in the complaint deal with the mining application." It is not clear if Sonjica will attend the hearing, as her department did not respond to the Mail & Guardian's questions.

This is an appeal to everyone who cares about the future of the Wild Coast to please send a mail to xolobeniatgcs-sa [dot] biz and register as an I&AP. Download the EIA and IAP registration form Who are the Interested & Affected Parties? (I&APs) They are persons who will be directly and indirectly involved and/or affected by the project. An IAP's role is to:

  • § Register with the environmental consultants, who will include you on a database of I&APs in order for you to receive future project information and/or formally record issues and concerns
  • § Attend public events to obtain further information, interact on a one-to-one basis with the project team, and/or raise issues and concerns; and
  • § Contact the consultants to obtain further information and/or raise issues and concerns.

(For more information please visit www.swc.org.za)

According to an article written by Mariaan Olivier (13 Apr 07), local communities around Australian miner Mineral Resource Commodities’ (MRC’s) proposed opencast dune-mining area, on the Wild Coast, have filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission, a social worker working with the affected mining communities said on Friday.

John Clark said in a telephone interview that the communities, represented by human rights attorney Richard Spoor, last week filed their complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

The complaint had been lodged on the basis of violating the right to information relevant to the exercise or protection of rights and the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
He claimed that the right to access of information was violated as local people were prevented from speaking to journalists and because the directors of the empowerment company, that had been drawn from the community, were left in the dark.

The Human Rights Commission complaint department’s Walter Nene confirmed on Friday that a complaint had been received on April 4 and that it had been transferred to its Eastern Cape branch.

This follows hot on the heels of the junior miner applying to the South African government for a licence to mine the Xolobeni mineral sands deposit, located about 300 km north of East London, in the Eastern Cape.

Early this month, MRC and local partners Transworld Energy & Mineral Resources and black economic-empowerment partner, the Xolobeni community empowerment company, lodged their mining right application, hoping to develop an ilmenite mine, which would be sustainable for the next 25 years.

Ilmenite – a titanium-bearing mineral - is smelted to produce titania slag and high-quality pig iron. Titanium is an important metal for engineering applications, and used in, for example, aircraft engines and frames, and for pipes in the nuclear and chemical industries where corrosion is likely to occur.

The Xolobeni mining project has been caught up in a wrangle between several environmental groups and the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) over the environmental sensitivity of the area. The DME is, however, arguing that mining would create jobs in the area, which is home for the Xhosa-speaking Amidaba tribal community, the traditonal landowners.

MRC said previously that the proposed mining and downstream operations would create some 557 jobs over the 20-odd-year life-of-mine with the construction phase providing an intensive period of economic activity over the short term, prior to mining.

Clark, and other environmental groups, argued that a mine would, in the long-term, destroy the eco-tourism industry along the Pondoland Wild Coast and that mining in the area would damage the biodiversity of the area.

He said that, following the completion of the Human Rights Commission investigation, the communities were prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court of South Africa.

“This could become the test case for environmental rights in the country, unless the DME stop the application,” he said.

Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), an environmental group, said earlier this month that the South African government would be held accountable for the possible extinction of at least 196 plant species if it allowed mining in the area.

“It is inconceivable that, in the current international climate where species are disappearing at an unprecedented rate, the South African government could even entertain thoughts of allowing opencast dune mining in an area as biologically valuable and fragile as the Pondoland Centre of Endemism,” SWC spokesperson Val Payn said, adding that the State would, by implication, smother the aspirations of the local communities who base their future on tourism development.

http://www.environment.co.za/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=591

The following information "The Mining Debate" is a chronology of events showing the protests by the Wavecrest community against sand/dune mining and destruction of forests and estuaries.

One must ask how long South Africans will have to fight against their own government for protection from mining magnates who come "bearing gifts" to bribe and cajole their way into the community before breaking it down? The very first "colonnials" to set foot in the third world were condemned for their tactics of coming with "beads and trinkets" to impress indigenous peoples so that they could make off with their gold and minerals. And yet South Africa's government is now welcoming these same unscrupulous mineral hunters with open arms.

East London does not want to become another industrialized Richards Bay with smelters pouring toxic emissions into air and water so that children have to be kept indoors. Nor does any town along the Wild Coast. Our nation is supposed to be able to market a healthy environment to tourists - not coastal towns belching fumes and deteriorating into industrial squalor.

The following information again shows that unfortunately those who want to strip South Africa of her natural resources follow a pattern - attempting to divide and conquer communities - that has been seen in St Lucia, Richards Bay, Wavecrest, East London, Coega, Tormin Sands and up the West Coast (oil industries). Most notedly, communities are tempted by greed or the idea that they will prosper alongside mining ventures - whereas history has shown this is not so and throughout Africa, the majority of the population remains impoverished while a very few at the top of the pyramid add to their stocks and shares.

Regards
Ingela Richardson

The MINING DEBATE
Related Pages: Ecological Threats and History
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Wavecrest is an idyllic setting. The confluence of two rivers, uniting to form a pristine estuary with islands, wetlands and the most Southerly manifestation of Mangroves on the planet. Huge sand dunes separate magnificent indigenous forests from endless stretches of unspoilt beaches.

A contented local community continue their tribal existence, in harmony with their surroundings and blissfully separated from the crime and discord outside of their Utopia.

Wavecrest Hotel has a strong environmental ethic and has focused its facilities and activities to assist guests to fully appreciate the resources without destroying them.

Thousands of school children s lives have been changed by courses run by Wavecrest Eco-Ventures, where the emphasis is on the understanding of and love for the environment.

The scope of the planned mining is to include the entire area, from Sandy Point in the North, to 5kms South of Kobonqaba. The methods to be used are stripping and dredge mining.

The existence and value of the illuminate deposits in this area have been known for many years. Several mining houses have expressed interest and conducted studies into the viability and natural implications of exploiting the reserves. Each such study, those by Mr Keith Cooper, the president of the Wild Life and Environmental Society, in particular, has led to appreciation by the prospective mining initiative, of the catastrophic consequences of such an action. Each has decided to abandon the idea.

Regrettably prospecting rights to this reserve have now fallen into the hands of Iscor Heavy Minerals. IHM is a division of a quasi-government company, whose concerns would appear to be more for their inability to compete internationally due to our new labour legislation and their resulting need to prop up their ever deteriorating balance sheet, than for the future health of the planet.

Subsequent to the "Meeting on the mount", described in more detail in our History page, where the three effected communities unanimously rejected Iscor s advances and chased them away, "facilitators" have been employed, armed with extravagant promises, to mingle with and persuade certain key figures in the community. Notwithstanding some limited success, the vast majority of the effected communities remain radically opposed to mining.

Departing from normal procedures followed in the implementation of a mining operation, a committee, called CIMEC has been commissioned by Government to examine all matters related to so called land use in the "Centani area". There will never be mining anywhere near Centani, the brief in itself reflects deceit.

The Steering Committee of CIMEC is reported to comprise representatives of all interested and affected parties. It is apparent however that it comprises mainly Iscor representatives, or known supporters of their cause. Those members who by virtue of the organisations they would appear to represent, should oppose mining, each received a letter requesting clarity as to who they represent and what stand they intend taking. With the exception of the WESSA representative, we did not even receive the courtesy of an acknowledgment of receipt.

Conspicuously absent from the Steering Committee are representatives of the Dept Water Affairs and Forestry, who own the land, the communities who live on the land, and Wavecrest, the only employer in the area and leaseholder over substantial areas to be mined. Could this be because all these parties have already expressed their opposition?

It is our fear that it is too easy for present officialdom to make decisions which are at best based on short term political expediency, or at worst possibly motivated by influences more sinister, at the expense of the health of the planet and the welfare of it s populace, forever.

The environments most threatened by mining are :
The Coastal Dune Forests, considered by experts as some of the finest examples in S A. ( Not plantations as in the case of St Lucia, but indigenous trees hundreds of years old)

The Wet lands surrounding the estuary:
A Living, Productive Estuary. It is regrettably to complicated to detail in this exercise, the mechanism of an estuary, the intricate food chains, and the inter-relationship with other environments. Even more importantly, by virtue of their dependence on estuaries, the life of the oceans and ultimately man.

What makes the estuary at Wavecrest unique:
A quirk in the ocean currents, which causes the clear, warm Agulhas current to flow into the Nxaxo and Kobonqaba estuaries. The resulting mangroves, the most Southerly manifestation on the planet, and the influence on the detrital effect, which drives the many food chains.

The Effects that Mining will have:

The forest would need to be stripped completely. Any reconstruction, if it indeed ever happened, would take hundreds of years before anything resembling the existing could be achieved. Once degraded, justification of further ill-conceived developments in the future, becomes easy.

The many rare and in some cases even unique bird, animal, and butterfly species would disappear, probably forever.
The success of the Coastal Dune forest is dependant on an inter-relationship of many different dynamics.

The protection from the sea by the sand dunes. Dunes evolve, they cannot be re-constructed.
Failure to recreate the dunes to the exact height and shape, would affect the wind patterns and therefore the possibility of recreating a forest.

It is impossible to recreate the delicate mechanisms, which control the water table, upon which the forest is dependant.

The mangroves from the estuary side and various pioneer species from the grasslands, forming a shield to shelter the canopy trees, most of which cannot exist outside the protection of the canopy itself.
ALL THIS CANNOT BE ARTIFICICIALLY REPLACED, AS IS THE CASE OF INLAND FORESTS OR PLANTATIONS.

Of far more concern than the destruction of the forest will be the loss of the estuary.

An estuary is essentially the tidal flow of the sea in and out of a river mouth. It is the interface of sea and land, where the two environments come together and are mutually dependant.

Quite apart from the many species which use an estuary as a nursery, by virtue of the number of food chains which have their origin there, virtually all life in our oceans is dependant one way or another on a healthy working estuary.

Regrettably these systems are terribly fragile. Once destroyed, there is little chance of ever recreating them.

As our coastline has been developed, we have systematically destroyed the majority of our estuaries. In fact we re rapidly running out of good, healthy, working estuaries.

By virtue of the fact that the previous Transkei was always a Cinderella province, the coastline was mercifully spared. This accounts for the wealth of these healthy estuaries still surviving on the Wildcoast.

It is a fascinating study of the significance of the mangrove trees, how and why they developed their aerial root system, (pneumatafores) and why these pneumatafores are essential to detritus and therefore life itself.

An estuary is dependant on the intertidal flow. In order for these pneumatafors to perform their primary function, that of photosynthesis, they need to spend a significant portion of their day, dry and exposed to sunlight.

In order for them to contribute to the ditretal influence, they must likewise be submerged. If that intertidal fluctuation is disturbed, the system dies.

Dredge mining requires an abundance of fresh water for separation and transportation. The only available source would be the damming of one of the rivers. As each in the system has a very small catchment area, the entire system will need to be effected.

Such a dam will destroy the intertidal range, kill off the mangroves, cause the mouth to block up, and yet another estuary will be lost forever.

In our opinion, for reasons previously explained, probably the most unique, productive and beautiful estuary on our coastline.

The effects to the local community:

The community surrounding Wavecrest comprise predominantly the elderly and their grandchildren, sent home to granny whilst their mothers work in the cities.

It is a peaceful community, living in perfect harmony with their surroundings. They are certainly not wealthy, but are lucky enough to enjoy an abundance of tribal land in one of the best agricultural zones in the country. Good grazing for their cattle and goats and subsistence farming , supplemented by pensions result in a lifestyle which is a far cry from the poverty suffered elsewhere.

The social order is administered by a congregation of elders who meet weekly, as they have done for generations, to address the occasional matters of community interest which may arise.

They are content, and in may ways blessed by being cut off from the strife in the cities.

Mining will create no more jobs than what the present tourist industry supports.
It functions utilising large specialised plant, with highly trained operators. Not operators who could be locally employed.

There will however be a massive influx of hopefuls who will descend upon the area. Squatter camps, aids and crime will arrive with them and the peaceful social structure of the community, lost forever.
The largest and fastest growing industry on earth is tourism. The Wildcoast is perfectly poised to benefit in many ways from this potential.

At this stage Wavecrest remains largely undiscovered. When the myths of perceived dangers are finally dispelled and when the public finally wake up to the incredible holiday potential of the Wild Coast. Free of Malaria. Warm seas, magnificent coastlines and excellent, very reasonably priced hotels, there will be a flood in our direction. Employment opportunities will increase in the many different spin-offs and directions.

Mining and tourism cannot co-exist in this magnificent area. It is a choice, one or the other. Tourist don t need to come all the way to Wavecrest to see the destruction of an environment.

In my opinion, Wavecrest is certainly the most unique, if not the most beautiful. If mining is allowed to continue, The Iscor shareholders may be enriched for a while, as will possibly some officials, but this opportunity will be lost forever. . . To the industry, to the community, and to the Country.

These are hard economic considerations. Even they should not be allowed to take weight from the overwhelming argument . . .

No-one, no official, no presently empowered Government, has the right to make decisions which will ultimately leave the planet poorer for future generations.

We did not inherit the earth from our parents, We are it s custodians for our children.

The alternatives to mining, to uplift this area are obvious.

The tourist potential is incredible. If this industry could only receive the most basic assistance from Government, in the form of improved access, communications, perceived security, and above all, a Tourist Publicity Association such as that in Durban or Cape tours, which actually promoted the area, huge development and employment opportunities are available.

The Wildcoast has without doubt, the most fertile Agricultural land in the Country. It however contributes zero income to the inhabitants or the State. The most primitive subsistence mielie fields are found in small pockets. The balance of the land is grazed, or overgrazed by tick and disease infested cattle which are kept only as a status symbol. They are not marketed, and seldom even eaten.

Capable agricultural extension officers are desperately needed to train the population to exploit the potential wealth they could be enjoying if this land was effectively utilised.

To Summarise

If mining goes ahead:

Only the mining company and their supporters will benefit.

This unique system will be lost forever.
Squatter camps and crime will replace the present peaceful existence of community.

Tourism opportunity will be lost forever.

Agricultural potential will be compromised.

Most importantly, the area will be impoverished forever. Life at sea will be further reduced and one more step will be taken towards the destruction of the planet.
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Update: 15 July 2000
The CES Strategic Assessment of Resource Use Options at Wavecrest has just been released. It can be viewed on http://www.cimec.co.za/. Our response can be viewed by clicking here.

The public have been invited to comment by 30 July. If you do so, please let us have a copy.
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Update: 15 September 2000
Many thanks for the many comments received, together with copies of your responses to the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) by CES The support for Wavecrest in the face of the personal attack in the SEA on Conrad in particular, is most appreciated.

It is hoped that whereas the majority of the original submissions were ignored in the SEA, that the responses at least will be published.

So far, nothing further from CES. Disturbing reports are however being received from friends amongst our local community, of increased activity by strangers to the area. Extravagant promises of lucrative jobs are being made to the more influential or vocal elders and civil disobedience is being advocated. Conrad has been earmarked as the obstacle to the wealth which mining will bring. Once again an innocent population is being used as pawns in the power game. Has the Zimbabwean type of war veteran scenario reached SA.
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Update: 1 October 2000
Surprise, Surprise. A Comments Report has now been published by CES. What makes it surprising is that it would appear to include all the responses and that these comments have been honestly described as detailed and informed. It points out that with the exception of the Iscor response, all the rest condemned the mining option B.

We were disappointed by the rather weak excuses made by CES to the many criticisms received and to there fobbing off of highly pertinent issues raised. We do however welcome the transparency in at least this phase of the investigation. What has become evident is that Iscor, CIMEC, CES and their supporters in authority, now have an idea of the extent and strength of the opposition to their intentions.

The report acknowledges under Recommendations that at least seven fundamental prerequisites still remain, prior to the formulation of their guidelines. We believe that there are many more but are confident that if these are responsibly adhered to, then the favoured option A, abandoning the mining prospect, will dictate the future of our beautiful coastline.

So much for the almost honest battlefield. Regrettably the clandestine assault continues. It is significant that before the first sod of soil is turned, the damage caused by mining has already begun. We have a community, now divided. Threats and angry words between those corrupted by vague promises and personal greed clash with those determined to preserve their peaceful heritage.

The division of our communities are only one visible effect of damage already done. Our own development program is most certainly on hold until we have more confidence in our future. How much more so are the funders of the many planned development projects in the area effected. Those that can indeed bring much needed sustainable prosperity?
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Update: 20 January 2001
Many, many thanks for all the support and offers of assistance. No we don t need, or want financial help. Yes we do want e-mails from as many contributors as possible. Contributions can be in respect of inside information, influence over involved commercial or state organisations, or simply a well written letter to a magazine, radio or television program.

Remember, our greatest strength is our database of friends who believe in what we stand for.

The latest news is - notwithstanding the undertaking to make an announcement by November 2000, the silence remains. The harm done by the indecision continues and uncertainty prevails.

We do however have cause for optimism. Information flowing from our various supporters would heavily support the contention that the value of Wavecrest to Iscor is purely a balance sheet pirouette and that there is no intention to actually ever mine.

Iscor is a new and very small player in the heavy mineral market. They are yet to produce their first gram of product and have given no indication that they possess the very complicated technical know-how to succeed.

The Saldanha development was touted as a huge potential money spinner. It was this hype which Iscor relied on to promote the sale of their shares to the public. Saldanha has failed miserably and enormous losses are accruing. The Iscor share value continues to disappoint.

It must be remembered that our Government have a number of other corporations, worth billions of Rands, all planned for privatisation. Denel, Telkom, Eskom, SATS, SAA, the list goes on and on. It was the success of Sasol, on an ever increasing oil price, which realised the success of the Iscor listing. Unless Iscor can be propped up, even in the short term, even artificially, the investing public will remain unimpressed.

Saldanha has lost it s credibility. Therefore Iscor s new Eldorado is their Mineral Sands Project, Gravelotte, Hillendale and then, for continuity, Wavecrest deposits. The good news, word from the main financial investment groups is that they are neither convinced nor impressed. If the charade fails, can it continue?

Reports are now reaching us of the introduction of a new player into the arena. Ticor Ltd., an Australian registered company, itself partly owned by Iscor, is reported to be negotiating an interest in the Mineral Sand Project. It has always been of major concern that lacking the funds to exploit the reserve themselves, and having alienated the IDC, their main financial backer, that the opportunity could be sold off to an unscrupulous outsider. The choice of an Australian based company, who are at least environmentally sympathetic in their domestic operations, is also positive. We have excellent influence within the Australian media and will not hesitate to use it to embarrass Ticor, should they support the destruction of Wavecrest.
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Update : 10 February 2001
Many thanks for the flow of information from our database. Sorry it is necessary to keep tactics and some trump cards rather close to the chest.

It would appear that as predicted, Iscor is about to be unbundled. Iscor Steel in one direction, the old Iscor, housing the mining assets, in the other. It is most likely that these mining assets, including Iscor Heavy Minerals, will then become fair game, for sale to whoever wants them. The excitement surrounding the Wavecrest mineral reserves, is apparently not shared by anyone outside of the Iscor team. Who else could simply ignore the enormous environmental impact?

It s still early days but we remain optimistic that the project will be downscaled or abandoned, once all the environmental influences are considered.
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Update: 1 June 2001
The silence broken at last. Correspondence from the office of the Premier of the Eastern Cape was recently addressed to the Cimec Steering Committee.

This correspondence states that the Government is not opposed to IHM Heavy Minerals (Pty) Ltd proceeding with their evaluation of the mining option. They continue to detail 7 guidelines as fundamental prerequisites.

Once all of the politically correct padding is discarded, we are left with the following significant prerequisites :

C) The issue of water abstraction must be investigated further, particularly with respect to the amount of water required and the ecological effects this could have on the Nxaxo and Kobonqaba estuaries.

Having regard to the massive amounts of water utilised by the mining methods employed and the minimal riverine flow of the three rivers feeding the two estuaries, this prerequisite, together with the guidelines set out in the Constitution for water utilisation, is in itself fatal to the mining option.

D) The Nxaxa estuary and forested areas of Nxaxo (Sandy Point) must be excluded from any form of mining and the indigenous forests in the Kobonqaba and Kabakeya must be afforded maximum protection.

It is simply impossible to mine any part of the area included in the prospecting permit, without devastatingly affecting all of these systems.

Under normal circumstances, we would declare victory and start celebrating the end of the mining threat. Regrettably we live in Africa and anything can still happen.
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Update: 5 September 2001
The dust is now beginning to settle, Iscor is indeed effectively unbundled, the mining activities now in the hands of Ticor. The status of Ticor mineral sand development is such that the mining in Natal has commenced with the Hillandale deposit, to be followed by that at Fairbreezes.

An announcement is expected soon, giving the go-ahead for a smelting plant in the area. The estimated life of the Natal reserves are 22 years.
Options available to Ticor thereafter are as follows :

Exploitation of the Gravelot deposit. This is environmentally less sensitive, however a hard-rock deposit is more expensive to mine than sands.

Wavecrest remains under threat. Mining companies will never give up an option, no matter how unlikely the ultimate successful utilisation may be. Purchase of sands from the Mozambique deposits owned by their fellow Australian group, Western Mining Company.

There are reputedly huge reserves in this area, having a life span in excess of 100 years.
An awful lot can happen in 20 years, particularly in the political arena, where the ultimate decisions will be made. The high road could be a responsible government, where as in the case of most first world counties, value is placed on the preservation of the environment. We don't have to look too far however, to have a preview of the alternative. Mining could be the least of our problems.

We must remain vigilant. Every move must be monitored. The voice of sanity must continue to be heard and recorded in every study and every report.
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Update: 12 September 2001
A meeting was called on 11 September, at the tribal kraal of Chiefteness Nogolde. Of the Nombanjana community. Conrad Winterbach was invited to attend.

The convener was Prince Sigawu of the Xhosa Royal Council, the purpose was to introduce the Company Steven Keet and Associates to the community.

It was explained that SKA was appointed by Tycor in compliance with one of the conditions to be satisfied prior to the commencement of the EIA.

Mr Keet was very professional and went to lengths to explain that the land to be mined belonged to that community. It would not be mined should the community not so wish. It was the task of his company to hear their voices and report back to Tycor and Government. He asked for individual reactions together with specific reasons, should there be opposition to mining.

The very large crowd responded instantly and with total unity. Every single one of the countless reactions condemned the prospect of mining and listed many environmental, social and practical reasons related to the survival of their community. This response was clearly unexpected, and whilst Mr Keet remained silent, his associates ignored Mr Keet's assurance that they were impartial and not required to influence opinion.

Heated and at times confrontational debate followed, until the Prince himself became involved. He delivered an aggressive assault on Conrad, accusing him of having misled the community. Mining would mean the confiscation of his hotel. His actions were therefore selfish and not in the interests of the people. He knew that Conrad had showed them videos. He would do better. He would take a delegation to Richards Bay to see the mining for themselves.

Whilst it was not Conrad's intention to get involved, this outburst demanded a response.
The following were the points made:

S.A. had not yet become Zimbabwe. Wavecrest cannot simply be confiscated. Should expropriation become necessary, then fair compensation is prescribed by law.

It was an insult to the community to presume that Conrad is able to exert such an influence. The people of Nombanjane have been fighting mining long before Conrad appeared on the scene. Conrad had come in their support, not they in his.

Richards Bay is not Wavecrest. Richards Bay Mining were the very first company to be offered the mineral rights at Wavecrest, by Rhombus. They had done a study, determined the sensitivity of the area, and turned it down. Similar studies were done by other responsible mining companies, including Rand Mines, Anglo American and Shell. All came to the same conclusion. We really don't need another study.
The volume and duration of the spontaneous applause from the community, to this speech caused the abrupt closing of the meeting.

We remain of the opinion that Mining is highly unlikely at Wavecrest. The posturing will however continue. We will continue to be vigilant.

Prince Xhianti Sigawu ended his speech by publicly declaring that in order to destroy a building one must seek out and destroy the pillars that support it. In doing so he pointed to two pillars, one being a Mr Z. Kekana, who was the initiator of the anti-mining campaign, and the other being Conrad Winterbach.
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Update: 1 November 2001
It has come to our attention that the suggested "pony show" indeed took place. A luxury bus arrived at Nombanjana and several prominent members of the community were spirited away for a week at Richards Bay. Included in the party were those traditionally strongly apposed to the mining option, including one Gustav Wayini who had led the opposition. Upon their return, all members of the party appeared blatantly prosperous. Wayini for example purchased a motor car, sported a cell phone and adopted an extremely affluent profile, despite the fact that he remained unemployed. Co-incidentally, he immediately became nominated as a councillor, a privilege previously reserved for members of the pro-mining lobby. Leadership of the anti-mining group has now been assumed by Kekana.
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Update: 12 January 2002
Correspondence has been received from an organisation calling itself "Kobenjaba Peasants Association" and signed by a Mr Bali. An interesting point included is the accusation that Mr Kekana had been murdered at Wayini's house.

Even if Mr Kekana's death was purely accidental, it was very fortuitous for the mining lobby and furthermore, half of Prince Sigawu's prophecy had come about.

As a backdrop to the above events it should be bourn in mind that there are serious political undercurrents at this level of society. The authority of the traditional leaders is under threat.

The powers of the chiefs and their advisors are now being removed and placed into the hands of so-called counsellors. These counsellors are not democratically elected by the community but unilaterally appointed by the local office of the ruling party. The appointees are always those who support the interest of officials of that office. The powers of these counsellors are particularly effective in that any contractor wishing to operate in the area is required to channel his labour requirements through the counsellor. In this way it is ensured that the members of the community either bow to the interests of the local ruling political party, or remain unemployed.

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Update: 20 June 2002
Everything is very quiet, we regard this as a dangerous sign and are most vigilant when proceedings appear to have gone underground.

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Update: 1 June 2003
Still nothing said. Drilling rigs have however been seen in the area. The only hole to be monitored was some distance away in the Takazi district. This is nowhere near that area included in the prospecting rights now held by Ticor.

We understand that it has come to pass that an empowerment group called Kumba Resources now owns 60% of the Ticor South Africa operations. Kumba Resources was apparently born out of the remnants of Iscor Heavy Minerals during the unbundling of Iscor Corporation.

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Update: 8 July 2003
We've received a visit from a secret government department of which we had never heard before. The full content of discussions may not be divulged. If what we were told is in fact true, then there is still considerable activity now underground. That activity does not however enjoy the support of all the Government departments? We have been strongly advised to play no further public role, and this chronicle will accordingly be more circumspect. Very much to the dissatisfaction of the Department Mineral affairs and Energy, details of the proposed mining activities both at Wavecrest and further to our North are however being openly publicised in the mining companies' websites.
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Update: June 2004

All continues to be quite, but we remain vigilant. We are watching the developments on the N2 extension and the arguments over the Pondoland proposed mining with interest, without getting directly involved. Cathy Kay and WESSA's efforts however, have our support.

We note Mr "Kortbroek" van Sckalkwyk's lament in the Mail & Gardian, that he is unable to stop Sand mining, and question who in fact does have such authority, if not the minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

We regard it as an indictment that short term political expedience, and personal profit should take priority over the environment and long term well being of the region.

http://www.environment.co.za/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=579

MINING APPLICATION SMOTHERS SUSTAINABLE ECO-TOURISM INITIATIVES AND CONTRAVENES INTERNATIONAL COMMITMENTS

PRESS RELEASE FROM: SUSTAINING THE WILD COAST (SWC)
4 APRIL 2007

Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC) calls upon the government of South Africa to reject out of hand the recent application for a licence to mine dune minerals along the Pondoland Wild Coast by Australian mining company Mineral Resources Commodities and its local associates, Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources and Xolco.

This call is made out of concern that the current process of decision making with respect to mining developments does not fall within the jurisdiction of normal environmental impact assessment procedure, does not allow for an independent process of review, potentially contravenes South Africa’s commitments under the Convention of Biological Diversity, and does not insist on a holistic cost benefit analysis of the merits or demerits of various development options for the region.

SWC believes the mining poses unmitigatable and enormous risks to any future sustainable development of the region based on eco -tourism, and to the extremely biologically rich but fragile Wild Coast environment. Dune mining would likely result in irreversible loss to South Africa of significant biodiversity, including numerous endemic species, and natural and cultural heritage. South Africa has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as numerous other international agreements designed to promote conservation and sustainable development. Any loss of species or eco –system functioning as a result of mining would contravene such agreements.

Local communities in the mining area have initiated proposals for community based –eco tourism ventures, which cannot foreseeably co-exist with open cast dune mining. There are also indications that eco- tourism investment in the region by private investors in partnership with communities has been depressed by the threat of mining, as private investors are reluctant to pour money into tourism ventures that might be jeopardized by future mining.

SWC is also gravely concerned at documented ‘manipulated consent’ strategies that appear to have been employed amongst local communities by the mining company in order to smother local opposition to the mining proposal, resulting in high tensions amongst various local communities

Dissatisfaction with the conduct of the mining lobby has been expressed by community members in the area, who accuse the mining lobby of being evasive about specifying supposed benefits that mining would bring to communities, that promised community upliftment developments such as assistance with improvement to local schools have not been forthcoming, and that intimidating tactics have been deployed by the mining lobby to silence any community opposition to mining

SWC commends Dr Alistair Ruiters and his company Eholobo Heavy Minerals for their decision to withdraw from the shareholders agreement that was under negotiation with MRC. However we are alarmed that MRC have now apparently opted to hang their albatross around the necks of well intentioned community members –unfamiliar with the complexities of corporate governance and accountability, who have been co –opted as directors and co –applicants in the mining rights application. We call on the Department of Minerals and Energy to carefully scrutinize the claims of ‘considerable community support’ made by MRC in its annual report, and to make funding available for the community to appoint lawyers of their own choosing to advise them of their rights.

Recent studies by the Wild Coast Conservation and Sustainable Development Initiative (WCCSDI) concluded that, despite the mining lobby supplying what appeared to be figures affected by ‘inflation creep’ about job creation and other supposed benefits of mining, the long term development interests of the region would be far better served by the appropriate development of eco-tourism, sustainable agricultural practices, and related economies in an integrated land management plan.

‘It is inconceivable that in the current international climate, where species are disappearing at an unprecedented and alarming rate, that the South African Government could even entertain thoughts of allowing open cast dune mining in an area as biologically valuable and fragile as the Pondoland Centre of Endemism. If mining is allowed, the South African government will be accountable for the possible extinction in the world of at least 196 plant species, and perhaps many more undiscovered species. It is specifically this biodiversity and the spectacular uniqueness of the Wild Coast that has the potential to attract visitors from all over the world.’ says Val Payn, a spokesperson for SWC. ‘By allowing mining, the South African government will be smothering any initiatives and developments that might lead to the long term development of a viable and sustainable eco -tourism industry in the area. By implication, they would be smothering the aspirations of local communities who favour a sustainable future of their choice based on tourism development.’
The Pondoland Centre of Endemism is an internationally recognized hotspot of plant endemism (There are only 235 ‘hotspots of endemism in the world. Together, these ‘hotpots’ contain about 80% of the planets known species of plant.) The Pondoland centre has 196 known endemic plant species that occur no where else in the world, and a rough estimate of 2253 total species. (More than the whole of the Kruger National Park or the United Kingdom which both contain only about 1 400 species) New species are still regularly being discovered in Pondoland.

SWC calls upon the government of South Africa to make sustainable development and community prospects for the region a priority by turning down the mining application and putting a stop, once and for all, to the mining debacle, with all the accompanying controversies and friction it is causing, and the damper it is putting on community based eco-tourism development in the region, and to act in a manner that promotes the holistic sustainable development of the region, the best long term interests of the communities who live there, and that honour its international agreements.

Contacts
Mr John Clarke - writer, social worker, Tel 083 608 0944
Val Payn - Communications SWC, Tel 083 -44126961
Dr Nick King - CEO Endangered Wildlife Trust, Tel 072 – 379 8067

[/quote]

Gladioli are popular garden plants that have been cultivated in Europe for more than 250 years and are renowned for their striking, colourful flowers.

Interestingly, these common European garden plants were cultivated from hybrids of wild gladioli native to South Africa.

Gladiolus oppositiflorus, or the Transkei gladiolus, with its large, showy flowers is an important species in the breeding history of a number of Gladiolus hybrids...

Gladiolus oppositiflorus is a representative from the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism (PCE), located in a small area between the Mzimvubu River, near Port St Johns, and the Umtamvuna River, near Port Edward, within the region known as the Transkei Wild Coast. This is an area of great natural beauty, and many rare and unusual species are found here.

Because a high number of species are concentrated in such a small area of only about 180 000 hectares, the Pondoland Centre of Endemism is acknowledged by international conservation organizations such as the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), as one of 235 world-wide centres of plant diversity.

Another international organization, Conservation International, included the Pondoland Centre among only 25 global hot spot sites (see CI hotspots ), in need of special conservation efforts. However, locally, very little is being done to conserve the Pondoland floral riches.

Only a few small nature reserves exist within the area, and although negotiations have been going on for years, no national park to conserve the Pondoland Centre has been established to date.

Meanwhile the Pondoland Centre faces severe threats from dune mineral mining, overgrazing, illegal holiday cottage developments and a proposed toll road connecting Durban and East London which could dissect the most sensitive areas of the Centre containing more than 200 endemic or near-endemic plant species.

Distribution and Habitat 
Gladiolus oppositiflorus is endemic to the summer rainfall regions of the Eastern Cape north of East London to southern KwaZulu-Natal, from the coast to as far inland as the Lesotho border. It is found in rocky areas in open grassland, often among rocks along streams.

See http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantefg/gladoppos.htm for more information.