CURRENT MINING COMPANIES ARE WORSE THAN THE APARTHEID ONES
The recent engagement between the Benchmarks Foundation research team and the community of Nyakallong uncovered some of the misery that the people are subjected to on daily basis. This was a joint effort by the Benchmarks research team and the community monitoring school, after a research that was conducted by the two teams. Our duty as community monitors is to conscientize the community. Mining companies are taking communities for a ride and people are oblivious to the fact that there are regulations and guidelines that govern the mining industry.
The community of Nyakallong continues to be battered by negligence of Harmony Target One. During the workshop that was conducted on the 17th March, grievances were tabled and the conclusion was that conditions were much better under Apartheid than they are now. This is a result of the comparison that is made between Target One and Lorraine because in the past Lorraine ensured that better living conditions were created for the people. This is taking place in the backdrop of a Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act No 28 of 2002(MPRDA). We also have National Environmental Management Act No 107 of 1998, the third generation of mining charter and Social Labour Plans.
The Voelpan dam used to be monitored regularly during the days of Lorraine and the water would be pumped once it reached certain levels. Lorraine provided housing for the people while Harmony has built none. The old mine hospital that was built by Lorraine was demolished and they are even contemplating to demolish the houses in Kalkuil that were built by Lorraine. Constant communication with the community was evident during the days of Lorraine but today people can’t even remember when they last had any engagement with Harmony, let alone the drafting of a Social Labour Plan.
The local SMMEs can’t do business with the mine because of the red tape and the beurocracy that makes it difficult to acquire vendors, while it is for white owned companies from outside. A lot of nepotism is at play because these people are mostly related to those in management positions. The people don’t understand the criteria applied by the mining company when recruiting for employment because most of the people employed by the mine are from outside. Even the contractors employ people from outside despite the rule that contractors who pay little money should at least employ people from the local community.
Women should also get more opportunities from the mine, if they can’t get employment they should at least get small business contracts or the support through the CSI programs. This is a very rare sight in Allanridge and Nyakallong and the people are looking to find ways of benefitting from the mines as hosting communities.
Some solutions were suggested during the engagement with the Benchmarks Foundation based on their experiences of working with different mining communities. People need to reclaim their power as mining companies won’t listen to them unless they force them to listen. They need to know the closure plans of mining companies in their areas because mining companies are obliged to share such plans with communities. Some of the infrastructure and assets must be handed over to the community, while communities are encouraged to have cooperatives. The story of Chaneng in the North West was an inspiration to people because they were able to set the terms for the mining company.
There are many people who are sick with chronic diseases in mining communities as a result of activities of the mine. Nyakallong community needs to compel the mine to work with local clinics and contribute towards caring for people who are sick with chronic ailments from the mining industry.
The negligence, noncompliance and arrogance displayed by the mining companies is a huge cost to the community.
The community is now ready to rise in unity and hold mining companies to account for the environmental degradation, noncompliance and all other injustices.