15 JANUARY 2019
Issued by Natasha Adonis, on behalf of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI). For more information, contact Natasha on 0797-999-654 or Natasha@safcei.org.za.
As Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe gets ready to visit the Xolobeni community tomorrow (16 January), the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) is speaking out in support of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and Xolobeni community, and calling on the Minister to “Stay away from Xolobeni!”
SAFCEI – a multi-faith NGO focused on environmental, social and economic justice, and a champion of ethical governance – has been a longstanding supporter of the Amadiba CC, in its struggle to ensure the community’s right to say “No!” to mining. In November last year, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the State is prohibited from issuing mining licences, without the ‘full and informed consent’ of the affected community.
Francesca de Gasparis, SAFCEI’s Executive Director says, “The Amadiba are a rural community who live well off their land and the ocean and have a deep respect for their ecological and cultural heritage. However, should government plans for mining not be stopped, their way of life – which goes back more than 300 years – will severely compromised, along with the Pondoland centre of plant endemism. Instead of mining, the government should be listening to this community and others in the area who have said no to mining and no to the toll road, and already have plans in place that would create jobs and allow a continuation of their way of life in harmony with nature.”
With the majority of the community – 68 of the 72 households and homesteads in the Xolobeni community – participating in the litigation opposing the planned titanium mining, concerns are mounting as to what means vested interests will go to ‘change’ people’s minds and secure the progress of this mining project.
“Nowhere in the world has an area that has been mined, been restored and rehabilitated to its former natural beauty or value. No matter how hard they try, they will not be able to ‘save’ the endemic species. Mining will destroy unique habitats and the ecosystems that they are part of.
“It seems as though government and the mining company are pitting community members against each other, manipulating the situation, and ignoring the court ruling.” says de Gasparis.
Bishop Geoff Davies, SAFCEI Patron and former Anglican Bishop of Mzimvubu says that for nearly two decades the people of Xolobeni have resisted imposed and inappropriate “development” that threaten their land, traditional livelihoods and natural heritage.
“Their celebration over winning the right to say no to mining has been short lived, because Minister Mantashe will not take NO for an answer and is determined to override the court decision. The tactics being used, are not new. All over the world, indigenous communities are struggling to hold onto their lands and livelihoods in the face of corporate and government greed.”
“By placing short-term profit before the wellbeing of people and the unique natural heritage, Minister Mantashe makes a mockery of the ANC’s promise of a more transparent, inclusive and concerned government. If the South African government is serious about respecting people’s land rights, we call on Minister Mantashe to do the right thing and listen to the will of the people. By imposing your own selfish will, is not only irresponsible, but wicked.”