East London - Eastern Cape member of the executive council (MEC) for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Oscar Mabuyane, on Thursday called for a referendum to resolve the Xolobeni mining debacle.
The High Court in Pretoria ruled in favour of Amadiba Crisis Committee which opposed titanium mining along the Wild Coast area.
During his Midterm Budget speech, Mabuyane said the provincial government welcomed the judgment which calls for the consent of the community before the government can issue licensing for mining activities. However, he said mining brings economical opportunities adding that rural communities often migrated to mining towns.
"We cannot say no to mining in our province and then pack bags to work in the mines in other provinces living with financial resources that could have made a difference in our province," said Mabuyane.
Answering questions after his mid-term budget speech, Mabuyane said the Xolobeni community was divided between those that are in favour of the mining and those that are against it.
"People of Xolobeni must not be lobbied and be intimidated to oppose the mining. They must be allowed an opportunity to decide if they want mining or not through a Referendum. People [of Xolobeni] have been misled by some other people who do not live there and have been promising to develop that area for tourism in the last 20 years," said Mabuyane.
"We are saying that tourism and mining can co-exist if people of that area can agree and mining will bring job opportunities, investments, social infrastructure and other benefits."
The Spokeswoman for Amadiba Crisis Committee, Nonhle Mbuthuma said the triumph of the will of people against political bullies.
"We are ecstatic that our courts have listened to us and ruled in favour of the will of the people. We have been through a lot over the years, intimidated and called names by those who wanted to impose the mining on us. We are very happy that this judgment says no minister can force his way through the community," Mbuthuma said.
"They keep trying to divide us, telling us that we need the mining to alleviate poverty, yet we have never protested to burn any government infrastructure because we are starving."
African News Agency (ANA)