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Environmental appeals dismissed paving the way for Musina-Makhado special economic zone to finally start

A visitor checks out iphone covers by German accessory manufacturer Hama during the 52nd edition of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 3, 2012. IFA, Europe's largest consumer electronics and home appliances fair opens to the public from August 31 to September 5, with more than 1400 exhibitors taking part. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL

A visitor checks out iphone covers by German accessory manufacturer Hama during the 52nd edition of the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) electronics trade fair in Berlin on September 3, 2012. IFA, Europe's largest consumer electronics and home appliances fair opens to the public from August 31 to September 5, with more than 1400 exhibitors taking part. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL

Published Jul 10, 2022

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MASHUDU SADIKE

THE LIMPOPO Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (Ledet) MEC, Thabo Mokone has dismissed all the appeal grounds from some of the affected and interested parties who are opposed to the granting of the Environmental Authorisation (EA) for the Musina Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) in Vhembe.

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Among the appeals were seven affected and interested parties – Agri Limpopo, Natural Justice, Birdlife SA, the Vhembe Mineral Resources Stakeholders Forum, Centre For Environmental Authorisation, Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA and All Rise attorneys which were all dismissed last week, paving the way for the MMSEZ to get under way.

Chief among their concerns were the cumulative impact on climate change, that the Vhembe district did not have water and that Ledet should not be the right body to adjudicate the appeals as it was conflicted.

However, in a letter dismissing the appeals penned by Mokone and seen by Pretoria News states: “I have considered the contents of your appeal as well as the grounds that you advanced against the granted Environmental Authorisation.

“Having considered all the above, the appeal is hereby dismissed and the decision to grant the environmental authorisation dated 23 February is hereby confirmed.”

It was not clear yet if the affected and interested parties were going to take the matter to court.

The organisations said they were still considering their legal options.

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The MMSEZ idea in partnership with China was established in 2018 in an effort to pump billions of rand into the provincial economy.

Speaking to Pretoria News at the weekend MMSEZ chief executive Lehlogonolo Masoga questioned the motives of these organisations delaying the start of the project saying the appeals have been “perpetuating poverty”.

“We can now go on site and start breaking ground and we are planning to start as soon as we secure funding for the installation of bulk-services water, solar electricity and internal roads.

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“For far too long, the MMSEZ has been bending over backward to afford the interested and affected parties the democratic space to register their legitimate concerns on our EIA application, a process which unfortunately degenerated into abuses.

“Some individuals and organisations elected to become the champions and advocates for the perpetuation of poverty and unemployment among the voiceless poor people of Vhembe District and Limpopo in general.

“They did this by unnecessarily delaying this project which carries the hopes of many to liberate themselves from the shackles of the twin-devils of poverty and unemployment. They chose their egos over our people. Our people may not have the platform nor the resources to attract media headlines regularly but their plight triggers even more courage and vigour from us to fight harder for their ultimate emancipation from the clutches of underdevelopment,” Masoga said.

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