Min­ing task team meet­ing a non-starter

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO BUSINESS - Tam­lyn Jolly

SOMKHELE com­mu­nity mem­bers op­posed to min­ing and Ten­dele Coal Min­ing bumped heads yet again on Mon­day, lead­ing to the can­cel­la­tion of a Depart­ment of Min­er­als’ meet­ing to ad­dress the is­sue.

The meet­ing, or­gan­ised af­ter Min­is­ter of Min­er­als Gwede Man­tashe’s re­cent visit to Somkhele mine near Mtu­batuba, was sched­uled for two days, but was post­poned be­fore it could prop­erly get un­der way.

Fol­low­ing se­ri­ous com­mu­nity con­cerns ex­pressed dur­ing Man­tashe’s visit on 22 Septem­ber, the depart­ment cre­ated a task team to meet with all par­ties con­cerned and at­tempt to pave a way for­ward.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers who feel ag­grieved over al­leged hu­man rights is­sues per­pe­trated by the mine, were un­happy at the out­set on Mon­day and said the meet­ing’s agenda ‘showed com­plete dis­re­gard for the peo­ple who suf­fer on a daily ba­sis’.

They said the agenda gave the floor to Ten­dele, and in­cluded items that raised sub ju­dice is­sues pend­ing the out­come of the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court ap­pli­ca­tion re­lat­ing to Ten­dele al­legedly op­er­at­ing with­out re­quired en­vi­ron­men­tal, land plan­ning or waste man­age­ment li­cences.

Fur­ther is­sues were raised over the venue choice and size, lack of trans­port pro­vided and the per­sonal cost to com­mu­nity mem­bers to at­tend the meet­ing.

Mtu­batuba Mayor, Ve­lan­genkosi Gumede, called for the post­pone­ment of the meet­ing, which was also at­tended by tra­di­tional and lo­cal gov­ern­ment struc­tures and the Mpukun­y­oni Com­mu­nity Min­ing Forum (MCMF).

The lat­ter re­port­edly ob­jected to the pres­ence of anti-min­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers who are in lit­i­ga­tion against the mine.

Ob­jec­tions in­cluded that those against the mine would not en­gage con­struc­tively and that they re­fused to en­gage with rep­re­sen­ta­tive struc­tures.

Af­ter the meet­ing’s post­pone­ment, the Depart­ment of Min­er­als’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­firmed that a fol­low-up ses­sion would be sched­uled in due course.

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