ANC national chair Gwede Mantashe testified yesterday at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on the party’s meetings with banks. Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The department of mineral resources said on Monday that Minister Gwede Mantashe will continue to engage with the Xolobeni community on mining and economic development prospects in the area despite volatility in the Eastern Cape village. 

A war of words in Xolobeni has erupted between those opposed to Mantashe's Wednesday visit to the area and those supporting to it. 

The Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) action group has banned Mantashe from Xolobeni, saying that he is not welcome in the area, while the Xolobeni Youth for Sustainable Development wants him to visit, saying that it firmly supports development and that anyone who talks the language of development was free to enter their community. 

The Xolobeni community has been at loggerheads with Mantashe's department while waging a 15-year long battle, led by ACC against the issuing of a mining license to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM), a subsidiary of Australian mining company MRC.

In November, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that in terms of the interim protection of informal land rights Act, the minister of mineral resources may not grant mining rights without the consent of the community and the people directly affected by that mining right. Mantashe is appealing this ruling. 

The department said that engagement forms part of the Mantashe's continuous efforts to find a sustainable solution and a way forward to challenges related to potential mining and economic development.

It said that during Mantashe's last meeting with the ACC in November 2018, the ACC requested him to come back and meet with the broader community in Xolobeni. In December, Mantashe postponed his intended visit to the area to allow stakeholders more time to prepare

But the ACC said Mantashe was no longer welcome in the community after he requested for leave to appeal the court's judgment for the community's right to say no to mining in the area. 

African News Agency (ANA)