CityPress - - Business -

An­other legacy of the min­ing boom is the large-scale in­ter­nal mi­gra­tion it caused – mostly into un­pre­pared ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Now that the boom has bro­ken, this legacy would prob­a­bly re­main, said speak­ers at the con­fer­ence.

“As na­tional govern­ment, we have never re­ally sat down and said what the con­se­quence of this in­ter­nal mi­gra­tion is,” said Neva Makgetla. “We didn’t re­ally plan for that at all.

“Peo­ple planned the lo­gis­tics in­fra­struc­ture and the elec­tric­ity, but they didn’t plan where these mine work­ers were go­ing to stay.”

The boom led to the same kind of pop­u­la­tion shifts into ru­ral ar­eas that hap­pened all over the world, she said.

“We tend to see it as a con­tin­u­a­tion of mi­grant labour here, but in fact it is a prob­lem with min­ing ev­ery­where.”

Tracy Ledger, a re­search as­so­ciate at Trade & In­dus­trial Pol­icy Strate­gies, pre­sented a paper on mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that have min­ing as the dom­i­nant com­po­nent of their economies.

These are mostly poor and dys­func­tional with ex­treme back­logs in ser­vice de­liv­ery that get ex­ac­er­bated by the in­flux of new house­holds af­ter min­ing in­vest­ments.

One prob­lem is that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties don’t re­ally ben­e­fit from mines in their ju­ris­dic­tion.

Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties mostly gen­er­ate their in­come through rates, but mines only pay rates in pro­por­tion to the value of the sur­face land – not their op­er­a­tions.

“This is ex­tremely prob­lem­atic,” said Ledger. “Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties re­ally don’t get ben­e­fits from these mas­sive busi­nesses in the same way that they do from other busi­nesses. If you have a great big mall in your area, you will get higher taxes and re­turns.

“Maybe it is time to look at some­thing like the old re­gional ser­vices coun­cils that levy a per­cent­age of turnover of lo­cal busi­nesses,” she said.

Not only were new min­ing cen­tres of­ten in poor, un­der­re­sourced mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, they tended to fall in for­mer home­lands, where land is con­trolled by tra­di­tional au­thor­i­ties, said Son­wa­bile Mn­wana, a re­searcher at Wits Uni­ver­sity’s So­ci­ety, Work and De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute. This has led to a resur­gent in­sider-out­sider pol­i­tics cen­tred on cul­tural iden­ti­ties.

The boom in min­ing on tra­di­tional land “has co­in­cided with leg­is­la­tion that em­pow­ers the chiefs as cus­to­di­ans of com­mu­nal prop­erty and land”, he said.

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