25 May 2020
Monametse Village, Atok
Story by Gilbert Moela

How South African government and mining companies use the Disaster Management Act in a quest to giving rural communities a raw deal.

Mining affected communities in South Africa are constantly asking themselves whether regulations aimed at slowing and/or suppressing the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa are really for what they’re for, which is to slow down the spread of the disease or are just for limiting their rights to meaningfully participate in policies that affect them.

When the Disaster Management Act was introduced communities affected by mining have seen the Minister of Mineral Resource and Energy cutting short the consultation process with almost 7 provinces to be consulted in connection with Mineral and Petroleum Resource Development Act (MPRDA). While communities where still finding ways to digest what was happening the Minister went ahead and gazetted the amended Mine Health and Safety Act with only less than few days given for communities affected by mining to comment.
In the past recent days Fetakgomo-tubatse Local Municipality added a salt to the wound of the already suffering communities of Fetakgomo-Tubatse Local Municipality which is currently Limpopo Province’ number one COVID-19 epicentre by introducing the Integrated Development Plan which they have also used Disaster Management Act to bypass the process of community consultation. Communities affected by mining in certain parts of Fetakgomo-Tubatse Local Municipality believe that both the municipality and the department of Mineral Resource and Energy acted in bad faith as they believe that this laws and the IDP could have been shelved until public gatherings are allowed with some citing that only the Mine Health and Safety Act could have been passed with inputs from mining affected communities given priority.