Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Carolina, Mpumalanga: Resistance on the Coal Mines

The township of Carolina in the community of Silobela, Mpumalanga, came to a standstill when angry community members stopped normal operational routines of the mines in the area. All people stopped going to work, all taxis were stopped from entering the location and school buses were turned away from transporting learners. Local mines were the target of the protest as they were accused of not employing the local community members even for jobs that do not require qualifications. They do nothing to empower the community of Carolina.

Protesters blocked the roads with rocks, drums, tree branches and burning tyres throughout the day. Businesses/shops were closed to prevent damage and looting. Appointed communuity delegates  were escorted by police to meet with the executive mayor and representatives from the mines. This meeting ended up with no results. An angry mob attacked a police officiers house, The police reacted with great force. Residents had to run for cover because the police were attacking anybody in their sight.

The main  reason for the anger of Carolina residents is that there are more than 12 mining companies around Carolina and they are not doing anything to empower the local community. There is a high rate of unemployment and poverty in the area. Their concern is why the mines are not hiring the people in Carolina and not  training them in skills that they require. The mines they say are not implementing their social labour plan which should improve the living conditions of the communities in Silobela, Carolina.

A community leader said ‘’it’s not a sin to bring people from other places for special skills but we protest for our demands as a community from the mines for a better life and jobs so that we can provide for our loved ones as we know that mining operations won’t last  long’’.

We  believe that mines are investing but this goes to a tiny minority . As communities we don’t benefit from them and the youth have lost faith in believing in a better life for better future. Meetings and protests are being held but no feedback is given to the community members. The community’s agenda is not even followed during meetings. Others are being bribed to keep quiet by giving them jobs and tenders. Those people are benefiting indirectly and getting the opportunities. What about the majority?

By: Lorraine Kakaza