Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Communities present an Alternative Voice to Business in their Mining Indaba

amdFive years on the communities affected by mining are still meeting annually in Cape Town in the Alternative mining Indaba (AMI). At the same time , five kilometres away , the world’s wealthiest, which includes the mining captains, its aspirants, politicians and senior government personnel are are having their own big convention. Investing in African mining Indaba as it is dubbed, is clear contradiction to the Alternative Mining Indaba. Whilst the Alternative mining Indaba focused its energy on the real experience of the mine host communities, the Invest in African mining Indaba was like a busy market and counting their success.

The Alternative Mining Indaba assembled Over 300 delegates from across African communities who are impacted by mining. The main intention of (AMI) was to continue challenging the dominant narrative, that mining accompanies developments. Although mining brings numerous changes, but positive developments are either insufficient or over shadowed by immense negative impacts. Of concerns to the impacted community is that their plight is neither heard by the captains nor by their elected government official.

The theme for the AMI this year was “Making natural resources work for people”. Whilst the platforms provide civil society with a space to think alternatives, there has been no major breakthrough in bridging the gap. The community representatives in attendance have warned of their gradual diminishing voice which is dominated by the NGO’s, International NGO’s and academics in the AMI.

The AMI has gained phenomenal influence as compared to its early years. Although media’s focus on AMI has grown substantial its ability to interpret the issues faced by the community are questionable and lack sharpness. The media have in some case trivialised AMI as the convention for complaints and full of envious people whose interest is to gain access to the Invest in African Mining indaba. Some reports have reduced the efforts to influence the mining agenda as of questions of the poor having no money to participate in the commercial mining indaba which cost from $1 311(About R13 000) for attendance. These reports are not only malicious but an attempt to render AMI irrelevant.

In dispelling this myth of the AMI’s false agenda, civil society march united with communities on the first day of the conference. On the other events Bench Marks Foundation together with the monitors , led by Bishop Jo Seoke, protested in front of the Cape Town ICC, where mine captains and governments met. The Buss protest, which displayed themed messages: “Enough is Enough Change Now “and “Nothing about us without us” caught the security by surprise. The guerrilla theatre approach to this protest left the commercial indaba still surprised.

Despite all challenges, AMI 2015 was a resounding success. The indaba through the publicity it received managed to place in the public an alternative narrative.