Xolobeni community outraged over Gwede Manatshe's reported upoming visit
Johannesburg - The Amadiba Crisis Committee on Tuesday accused Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe of "preparing a provocation" in the Xolobeni area after the community received reports that that the minister intends to visit the Wild Coast area in the Eastern Cape this coming Sunday.
The Xolobeni community scored a significant victory last week after the North Gauteng High Court 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.
The community has been at loggerheads with the department while waging a 15-year long battle against the issuing of a mining license to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM), a subsidiary of Australian mining company MRC, to mine titanium along the Wild Coast in Mbizana. The last meeting Mantashe had with the community on 17 November did not end well.
Nonhle Mbuthuma, ACC spokesperson, said in a statement that they had received reliable reports that the department of mineral resources plans to transport people from all around, even from districts in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid "to convince the people in Xolobeni that they need mining".
Mbuthuma said a tender for "mass catering" has already been sent out by Mbizana Local Municipality. She said no contacts were made with the lawyers of the Umgungundlovu Traditional Council and with ACC before the reported visit.
She said their lawyers had contacted the department stating that there can be no meeting in Xolobeni. Umgungundlovu is one of the first villages you reach when you travel from Bizana. But the department of mineral resources was not immediately available to respond to written questions over this reported visit by Mantashe.
"We are shocked what the Minister is prepared to do. If people from outside are brought to Xolobeni to sign attendance registers, such people or the police may also attack us, as happened on 23 September. We appeal to ANC leaders who are not personally invested in Xolobeni mining to intervene and stop this. We expect DMR to cancel these plans right now," Mbuthuma said.
"On 29 November, an imibizo at Umgungundlovu Great Place with 500 present decided there is no further need to engage with DMR on the matter of 'Xolobeni Mining Project'. The affected Umgungundlovu community has said no to mining for 15 years."
Mbuthuma said that she has been in regular contact with Duduzile Baleni, head woman of Umgungundlovu community and head of the customary body Umgungundlovu iNkosana Council, saying they were both concerned about the safety and physical security of the people that they serve and their land.
"We are worried who the advisers of Mr Mantashe are, and what can be the pressure on him, so that he is prepared to take this dangerous step. If Minister Mantashe isn't pleased with the judgement he can appeal. It must be filed within 20 working court days from 22 November," Mbuthuma said.
"We will alert the South African Human Rights Council if the minister does not cancel his provocative meeting."
African News Agency (ANA)