LEPHALALE — Local activist groups Waterberg Environmental Justice Forum, Lephalale Community Justice Movement and Waterberg Woman Advocacy Organisation (WWAO) formed part of the voice in a demonstration at North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Moday 19 February.
The demonstration was about the mining charter, which is accused by affected communities of excluding residents during engagements and negotiations with stakeholders.
A full bench (three judges), headed by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, ordered that the mining charter be postponed so that President Cyril Ramaphosa has time to start inclusive consultation process in revisiting the charter, to ensure communities are regarded as interested parties in drawing up a new mining charter.
In his State of the Nation Address on Friday, President Ramaphosa committed himself to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter “to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.”
During the granting of the postponement, the court declared mining affected communities and networks as core stakeholders for any purpose of consultation.
The court heard argument on the postponement of the mining charter review sought by the Minister of Mineral Resources Musebenzi Zwane.
Prior to the postponement, local communities, MACUA, WAMUA and MEJCON-SA, approached the court represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies to challenge the charter.
In a joint statement the affected communities say during the process of intervention to facilitate an agreement between the Chamber of Mines and Mineral Resources to postpone the case, seven other community applicants were not engaged.
“This is part of a pattern of side lining mining affected communities from engaging on laws and policies that affect them directly.
Instead they continue to bear the burden of mining while being entirely disregarded in all decision making that impact them,” reads their statement.
Lephalale based activist group WWAO gladly welcomed the judgement.
WWAO Chairperson Francina Emly Nkosi said they are happy that justice prevailed in their favour.
She says they went to Pretoria in numbers to get confirmation from the court that communities are rightful stakeholders – especially women.
“Women are affected the most. We need to partake in whatever takes place on the ground. We always feel excluded and need to be part of decision makers.
We didn’t necessarily want President Cyril Ramaphosa to be involved in this. We want communities to be involved as they are the ones that suffer.
This needed to be revisited and restarted to accommodate everyone, especially affected parties,” she said.
Nkosi says she hopes there will be proper revisiting of the Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Act Bill that includes consulting communities.