Xolobeni community members at the North Gauteng High court celebrating after the court ruled in their favour Photo: Brenda Masilela / ANA

Johannesburg - A war of words in Xolobeni has erupted between those opposed to the upcoming visit in the area by the Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, and those opposed to it.  

This as Amadiba Crisis Committee (ACC) on Thursday slammed the Xolobeni Youth for Sustainable Development for saying that Mantashe was welcome to visit the volatile Eastern Cape village. 

Mantashe is set to visit Xolobeni on Wednesday next week, for the third time since he became minister, in a bid to discuss "economic development" in the area and meet with various "stakeholders".

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 December, the ACC said Mantashe was no longer welcomed in the community after the minister requested for leave to appeal the court's judgment for the community's right to say no to mining in the area. 

This was after the community scored a major victory in November when 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. 

But the spokesperson for Xolobeni Youth For Sustainable Development, Mfundo Dimane, has gone against the ACC wishes, saying that it firmly supports the development and that anyone who talks the language of development was free to enter their community. 

In its counter-argument, ACC said that Dimane is the of the four accused for the 2015 "Christmas shootings" when villagers returning from a mass-meeting opposing the mine in Mzamba were attacked, and is still facing those charges. 

The ACC also said the number of stakeholders that Mantashe wants to meet is formed by the mining applicant and that Dimane's "youth group" was formed by MRC director and mining applicant, Zamile Qunya, as soon as he heard about Mantashe's upcoming visit.

"We repeat that we appeal to all concerned about land and human rights to tell Mining Minister Mr Gwede Mantashe to stop his 'Third Coming'. Minister Mantashe must stop playing with the lives if people. We cannot afford a second Marikana in South Africa," ACC said.

African News Agency (ANA)