The Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe had a day's con-sultative meeting with the community of the John Taolo Gaetsewe region in Kathu on May 04, 2018.
Top on the agenda was the stormy mining charter deliberations that seek to perfect areas of concern within the blueprint.
As good proposals and contradictions poured on the floor with mixed feelings, the community felt that Mr Mantashe's visit was a mere surprise for the very important con-sultative process in building a solid mining charter that directly affects them.
While the turnout was convincing for the constructive contributions, massive attend-ance had a potent to create disorderliness, as some local mining activists were ready with disruptions that normally characterise such meetings.
Like members of the church presenting their myriad challenges to the pastor for spi-ritual intervention, minister Mantashe was precisely in that position, as community members raised interminable concerns re-garding mines in the region.
Among thorny issues raised were skills shortage in the John Taolo Gaetsewe re-gion, the shortage of colleges in the area to empower locals with relevant mining skills and the shortage of health facilities. Patients have to be referred to Kimberley or Bloem-fontein hospitals while mines are producing billions worth of minerals to avail such faci-lities in the area.
Another issue raised was that politicians continue using local chiefs to enrich them-selves and that people are enriching them-selves through trusts and that municipalities approach mines with a begging bowel to develop the communities. There was a chorus that mines are short-changing the communities in as far as employment is con-cerned.
The community raised lack of transparen-cy in mine ownership and that the depart-
ment officials are dictated to by the mines, because they do not know or understand their legislation. In a nutshell the community said that the local mines are doing injustice to the community.
In a brief session with the media, Minister Mantashe was in tandem with the pertinent concerns raised during the sessions. How-ever, he threw the gauntlet to the community saying that while legislation is here to regu-late the operations of the mines; the com-munity must formulate resolute structures to engage and negotiate with the surrounding mines to ease tensions.
The new legislation is intended to further create harmonious relations between mines and the communities, as well as to safe-guard the interests of the workforce.
The proposed new mining charter seeks to strike a balance amongst mine owners, communities and the legislation.
Activists believe mine owners are shed-ding crocodile tears while cargo carriers are roaring down the roads day and night laden with the valuable ore while the communities are left handling only the dust.
The issue of trusts resorting to investments in place of directly serving the community as initially intended, the minister said that the community must have a voice on how the trust is composed and how it must serve the interests of the community. He said challen-ges faced by the communities in the mining areas are almost identical throughout the country.
Speaking to local forum leaders outside the Kalahari Country Club in Kathu who have the penchant for closing the roads in and around the Hotazel area, they said that the minister sounded too big a master to listen to a baby crying for breast milk. “The minister was dod-ging questions because they (the ministers)
are protecting their own interests in these mines and that is common knowledge. No wonder mine managers are behaving so shrewdly, it is because the referee is also a player in the field,” Patrick Masilo, one of the activists, said.
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