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Word on the Street: The Right to Say no in Xolobeni

SPOTLIGHT ON: The struggle history of Amidiba Crisis Committee

Some Xolobeni residents had been opposed to the plan. File picture: Yvette Descham

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) was formed in 2007 by five villages on the Wild Coasts to fight open cast mining on their land. It was in this area the Pondo Revolt started in 1959: in the coastal villages of Amadiba, called Umgungundlovu. It took three years of bloodshed in the whole of Pondoland before the apartheid government gave up the plans for land grabbing via ‘betterment schemes’.

The land was defended. On this part of the Wild Coast, there are families who have lived in the same homestead for hundred years and more. There are elders who can point out the graves of their grand-grand parents.

The community plans to expand agriculture and ecotourism. Many homesteads sell surplus of sweet potatoes and other crops on the markets in Bizana and Durban. This is a food secure community. More than 3000 tourists hike on this coast line every year. This is what open cast mining would destroy. The repeated mining applications have already disrupted plans for investments.

The mining project would lead to the forced removal of about 70 households inside the 22km long and 1.5-2km wide proposed mining area. Two hundred other households would be affected by dust, by the threat to water supply and by being cut off from the ocean and its supply of fish and sea food. The mining project would tear the community apart, economically, socially and culturally.

After yet another mining application, a community meeting at the Great Place decided in April 2015 not to allow any more “studies” and “EIAs”. No mining consultants were allowed. Violence against the community then escalated to pave way for the mining company. On 22

On 22 March 2016, the chair of Amadiba Crisis Committee, Mr Sikhosiphi ‘Bazooka’ Radebe, was assassinated. Five months later the Minister declared an intention to issue a moratorium on mining applications. In June 2017, an 18 months moratorium was decided. It expires at the end of this year.

The mining applicant is Transworld Energy Minerals (TEM). Behind TEM is the majority owner Australian corporation Mineral Resources Commodities (MRC) as well as local, provincial and national politicians. In July 2016, MRC announced it was pulling out. But it did not. MRC is still behind the project. The directors of TEM is the CEO of MRC, his Australian colleague and two chiefs, one of them is the chief of Amadiba.

The Umgungundlovu Head Woman together with 126 community leaders, elders and heads of homesteads from five villages are heading to the Pretoria High Court on 23 April 2018. They seek a declaratory order that stop mining projects in Xolobeni. They are backed in Court by Bench Marks Foundation and legally represented by Richard Spoor Inc. and the Legal Resources Centre.

This community on the Wild Coast requests the Court to rule that it would be illegal for the Minister of DMR to issue a mining license without their consent.

The case against “Xolobeni Mining” has become a part of a larger “Right to say NO” campaign across Southern Africa. Communities affected by destructive mining are demanding the right to say No and to stop projects that destroy their land and their communities.

If successful, the Xolobeni court case will set a precedent for other communities affected and threatened by mining in South Africa and across the African continent.

Join the struggle of mining affected communities: Follow ACC on Facebook, support the #Right2SayNO and sign their petition!

Posted in Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC)

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