Pretoria - In spite of the rain, scores of mining community members have been gathering outside the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Monday in anticipation of the long-awaited court challenge to the Mining Charter.
While the Chamber of Mines has agreed to a postponement of the court challenge to the Mining Charter, the mining communities who are part of the proceedings, say they were not engaged on a postponement.
They said on Monday morning that as far as they were concerned, the application will go ahead. The Minister of Mineral resources and Chamber of Mines on the eve of Monday’s court case, have agreed to postpone the review application.
This is in light of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment during the State of the Nation Address to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter “to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.”
The Presidency, in a statement said the postponement was to allow the parties the space to engage and find an amicable solution.
It was said that the Presidency and the Chamber of Mines have approached the seven other applicants, as well as two amici curiae (friends of the court) - the National Union of Mineworkers and Solidarity - to advise them of this development.
The president, during the State of the Nation Address, said he is committed to intensify engagements with all stakeholders on the Mining Charter “to ensure that it is truly an effective instrument to sustainably transform the face of mining in South Africa.”
But Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) - which represent four mining communities in the legal challenge, said they have entered into no agreement to postpone the matter.
“Its is unfortunate that this agreement between the Chamber and the government appears to extend the pattern of exclusion that prompted our clients to intervene in this matter in the first place," Michael Clements, head of LHR’s Environmental Rights programme, said.
The Centre for Applied legal Studies (CALS), which also represent several affected mining communities, said it was also not consulted about the postponement.
Wandisa Phama of CALS said there are eight applicants in this case and only one of them has agreed to a postponement.
“It is up to the court to decide if the matter will be postponed and not the Chamber of Mines, the minister of the Presidency. They are treating our clients as if they are not a party to the case with a direct and substantial interest,” said Phama.
The communities, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies and LHR, argued that the charter should be set aside for lack of meaningful community engagement.
LHR will also ask the court to order the minister and his department to begin a fresh, properly consultative process to develop and implement a new Mining Charter that reflects the rights and interests of mining affected communities.
But Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, earlier in court papers said the department went to great lengths to ensure that all stakeholders were afforded to opportunity to give their input.