Permanent People’s Tribunal:
Third Session On Transnational Corporations In Southern Africa
Southern African Campaign To Dismantle Corporate Power | 16 January 2020
The recently released documentary “Where Communities Have Been Saying No!” highlights the experiences of various communities in Southern Africa affected by Transnational Corporations. The short film highlights actions and instances of corporate impunity and how they have been resisted by the affected communities.
The documentary itself is based on the Third Session on Transnational Corporations in Southern Africa or the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT 3) for short. The tribunal was held at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, Newtown Johannesburg in South Africa in November 2018 and was the culmination of a 3 year process that had begun in Manzini, Eswatini. The Tribunals hosted over the years have offered an opportunity and platform for communities, movements and organizations of the Southern African region, to provide their experiences towards TNC’s human rights abuses.
This process is part of the necessary task of holding TNC’s to account. As part of this process the tribunal offered insight into 18 distinct cases that highlights how TNC’s operates. And importantly the actions taken to challenge these TNC’s by a wide network of activists across the region.
The findings of this three year process are now available online in the form of “The Juror’s Statement on the Third Session on Transnational Corporations in Southern Africa”. This juror statement functions as a summation of the findings of the expert panel of Juror’s who had assembled to listen to the various testimonies presented at the Permanent People’s Tribunals.
What these testimonies revealed was “the extent of the ruthless extraction, dispossession, displacement and brutality shown by the transnational corporations in search of profit”. The Juror Statement does note that this has often been possible due to the actions of the state. All of this included gross human rights violations, ranging from forced displacement to massacres. This capturing of the state has also coincided with numerous instances of the corporate capture of local leaders who either have legal authority or are trusted by the communities.
The Juror Statement as well as “Where Communities Have Been Saying No!” highlight the specific experiences of Miners at what used to be Lonmin (no a part of Sibanye-Stillwater)
The Tribunal also heard testimony from communities affected by the Inga 3 Dam: a mega-dam project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Extending the level of state involvement, the South African government has committed to purchasing 5000 megawatts of electricity generated by the project. This commitment potentially makes the project commercially viable.
Both these cases and others are emblematic of the relationship between states and transnational corporations that amounts to aiding and abetting the exploitation of natural resources to the detriment of the communities affected.
This Panel of Judges made some of the following recommendations:
1. The regional monitoring and assessment network developed by communities be permanently established. Its ability to collect evidence of environmental damage and human rights violations coupled with expert opinion provides a reliable and timely source of information, enables public awareness and supports informed communication.
2. Expert hearings be held on the complex issues of ownership and transfers of ownership of TNCs. This will help to create an informed public opinion.
3. Expert opinions be obtained regarding Lonmin and the Inga III Dam with a view to holding Special Hearings on the Sibanye-Stillwater deal and the relationship between Sibanye, Lonmin and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Such a hearing will focus on the rights of workers and specifically workers’ pension funds which are invested in the PIC.
4. Expert opinions be obtained in the case of Inga III Dam to clearly document the relationship between the government of the DRC and the TNCs involved in the construction of the dam. This will assist in ascertaining whether the purchase of electricity by the South African government is contributing to the violation of the rights of communities affected by the construction of this dam.
5. Further examination of South Africa’s particular role in the region, in order to ascertain in greater depth its responsibilities with regards to extractivist activities in SADC.
To download the full Juror Statement click here