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So. Africa: Rural communities continue to suffer from effects of mining activities with no benefits in sight, research reveals

Author: The Conversation, (Africa) , Published on: 16 July 2019

‘How South Africa’s rural communities are getting a raw deal from mining’ 14 July 2019

Some of the most profitable South African mines are situated in the areas of the country that are home to traditional communities and are governed in terms of customary law. Many of these developments have led to the destruction of the natural environment. And mining activities have also disrupted local ways of life. For example, residential homes have been destroyed. In others, violence has erupted within communities leading to the deaths of people opposed to mining. On top of this communities rarely benefit from mining. Instead, they’re exposed to pollution and health risks as well as disruptions to their livelihoods.

… There have been legal cases. For example, over a decade ago the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela traditional community attempted to hold their traditional leader to account over assets and revenue derived from mining operations. The traditional leader sought an interdict against villagers from holding public meetings to discuss community concerns about mining and corruption. In the end the traditional leader was convicted of theft and corruption… I found that there was a lack of transparency on how decisions were made about mining developments within the Fuleni traditional council. And that decisions weren’t in the interest of the community. The support for mining development within the traditional council was due to benefits received from mining development.

… Even as things stand, communities are left vulnerable to exploitation by traditional leaders, mining companies and government. This is because of a lack of transparency – nobody knows what deals traditional leaders have done – is compounded by weaknesses in the regulatory framework. A sound framework would ensure genuine consultation, consent, and downward accountability in mining communities. So far government has distanced itself from the challenges faced by mining affected communities. It needs to adopt a co-ordinated and integrated environmental management approach when it considers mining development and applications. And effective governance won’t happen unless the government and industry are transparent and employ credible participatory 

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