Photo by Billy Mnqondo
Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, Pietermaritzburg: The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Gwede Mantashe failed to honour his commitment to visit the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province today to discuss the Mining Charter. Community people gathered from Newcastle area (Normandien, Kliprand Farm and Uitkomst communities) and Somkhele, where Petmin’s coal mine is being challenged by local community people. More than 70 people travelled to attend the meeting to speak with the Minister about the impacts of coal mining and dangers of proposed fracking in the province.
“This shows the lack of respect government has for meaningful participation. It is not easy for people to make these meetings. For these meetings to be cancelled without notice is an injustice” says Robby Mokgalaka, groundWork’s
 Coal Campaigner.
This meeting was to be a consultation process about the Mining Charter. In his previous Mining Indaba visit in April, the Minister was greeted by angry Kliprand farm community members who were forcefully relocated
from their land to make way for the proposed Ikwezi Coal Mine.
The community demonstrated outside the Mining Indaba venue on 18th &19th April, drawing the attention of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) officials and other delegates present. Subsequently the KZN Regional Manager, Nqobile Khanyile approached the protesting community and received their memorandum which landed in the hands of the Minister. There has been no formal response to the memorandum. The protest compelled the Minister to visit the community in order to see what was happening on the ground and he promised that the Department will address the situation within 14 days.
On the 11th May 2018, Nqobile Khanyile convened a meeting with the community in response to the demands made by the community during the protest. The community felt that the DMR was just doing a ‘tick box’ exercise in trying to quell the community from disrupting today’s meeting. Khanyile said in the meeting with the community that the DMR was only going to discuss the relocation issue (on whether or not the mine followed the right procedures in relocating the community) and nothing else.
It is alleged that the mine lied to the DMR that it had consulted with the community and failed to produce any evidence to that effect.
At this moment the community gathered in Newcastle is planning what their next move should be.
 groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa is an environmental justice organization working with community people from around South Africa and increasingly in Southern Africa on environmental justice and human rights issue focusing on Climate and Energy Justice, Waste, Coal, Environmental Health and Environmental Education. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International.