Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Nyakallong Community not living in HARMONY with the mine

Astone Chaole

Following difficulties imposed on the community by Harmony Gold Mine, a recent workshop concluded that the community must act if justice is to prevail. The mine writes about themselves thus: Environment – Contributing to a low-carbon future through ETHICAL MINING, preventing contamination of land, water and air while using resources responsibly. Astone Chaole writes about the workshop and its conclusions.

Through various engagements and interactions with the research team of Bench Marks Foundation, particularly on the issue of Voelpan, we came to the realisation that Nyakallong Allanridge is tormented and abused by the Harmony Gold Mine. This called for intervention from the Bench Marks Foundation to educate and provide the tools necessary to take on the mining companies.

The workshop was attended by different community-based stakeholders within the community. These include Moral Degeneration Movement, WAMUA Nyakallong, YAMUA Nyakallong, Environmental Protection And Food Sovereignty Organisation, Allanridge Business Forum, Climate Justice Team and Unemployment Team.

The workshop commenced with the background of Bench Marks, and what it stands for. It was made clear that the Bench Marks Foundation comes to assist communities to fight for their rights as the host communities in a mining area.

The community members presented the problems they encountered with mining companies that operated within their area. They indicated that during the times of Lorraine Gold Mine, things were much better. When Target took over, things became very different, as Voelpan was no longer monitored and maintained. Even when the water level rose to unprecedented levels, nothing was done by Harmony to keep it in check. The facilities that Lorraine used to have were either demolished or not maintained. This is inclusive of the TB mine hospital that used to exist at times of Lorraine, and was recently demolished by Harmony. Harmony hasn’t shown its presence at all within the community.

The community further lamented about the mine dam within the township, whose water has entered peoples houses. There is an unbearable smell within the whole township, but the people who are heavily affected are those who live in proximity with the dam. Most of them suffered from respiratory illnesses and some passed away as the result of the dam.

Harmony is doing nothing for the community of Nyakallong, they do not follow through with their SLP projects, nor are they assisting the community through CSI. Ever since its arrival in Nyakallong, the only thing that the community can point to is a multipurpose court at Tshireletso Primary School. The subcontractors are not from the community, nor the vendor system is favourable to the mining communities. The employment criteria is also not understood by the community members. The Nyakallong community is not benefiting anything from Harmony even though they bear the effects of environmental degradation.

Other than that, there were members of the community who had their own personal problems as far as mining is concerned. Some had not benefited from the mine. Since their retrenchments, some suffered from silicosis and were not compensated. Most of these people came together and formed Nyakallong ex-miners. They all need assistance to get what is due to them.

The last part of the session was solution oriented and providing a way forward.

The mine must join hands with local clinics and contribute in taking care of the sick within the community, given their contribution through the environmental impacts and the former mine workers who have become the burden in local clinics.

We must write to the mine and require the vendor process for the local companies to benefit from the mine. Mostly the companies that benefit are the white companies from the outside.

We need to conduct a skills audit, hence that we know the kind of people we have within the community and their skills. This will lead to the formation of the cooperative to assist the community members to create employment and help themselves.

The workshop concluded with community members looking forward to the implementation of its resolutions.