Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe addresses scores of community members in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape about titanium mining prospects in the area. Picture: @GwedeMantashe1/Twitter
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe addresses scores of community members in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape about titanium mining prospects in the area. Picture: @GwedeMantashe1/Twitter

Johannesburg - Xolobeni community leader Nonhle Mbuthuma has cautioned the rural community against being victims of electioneering after the Eastern Cape government announced plans to build 200 homes for destitute families.

In a statement, Mbuthuma said although she was not aware of the plan, it would have a positive impact on those families if carried out without controversy.

"The development would be welcomed but houses should be built where people stay, they should not be relocated. That would be an interesting development, considering that some homes could be removed to make the way for mining," Mbuthuma said. 

Eastern Cape member of the executive council for Human Settlement Babalo Madikizela announced the housing plan during a visit to Xolobeni on Wednesday. He said the need to provide housing urgently was identified during another visit last week.

Madikizela introduced constructors that he said would carry out the project later this month, adding that 30 percent of the work would be outsourced to local companies.

He received a warm reception from the community which has in the past been hostile towards the government due to attempts to allow an Australian company to mine titanium. Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe and his predecessor Mosebenzi Zwane have previously had icy receptions to  Xolobeni. 

The community has been at loggerheads with the mineral resources department over the last 15 years due to its opposition to the issuance of a titanium mining license to Transworld Energy and Minerals, a subsidiary of Australia's MRC.

Amadiba Crisis Committee, which is opposed to the mining, has accused accused the mineral resources ministers of dividing the community over the issue.

Sixty-eight of the 72 households and homesteads in Xolobeni are participating in litigation opposing the plans to mine titanium.

Mantashe is appealing a North Gauteng high court ruling barring the minister from granting mining rights without the consent of the community and the people directly affected by those rights.

African News Agency/ANA