Royal Bafokeng Platinum ‘s Styldirft 1 & 2 Projects in Chaneng village – a moral and cultural hazard
– Writes Joseph Magobe
‘Styldrift 2 may need R10bn investment’, a statement by RBPlat in Platinum Weekly (17 August), is typical asymmetric information that promotes free-market investment in mining projects that are detrimental to the host Chaneng community’s sustenance.
On 10 August 2011, the Chaneng Community Council (Kgotla) and Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) abandoned their consultative meeting abruptly without agreement.
Kgotla demanded RBPlat to stop their exploration drilling in the village. Kgotla asserted that in terms of the Mineral, Petroleum and Resources Development Act (MPRDA), Section 5 (4), RBPlat should have consulted and compensated the community, the directly affected and lawful occupiers of the land, before they commenced with the new Project (Styldrift 2) in February 2011.
Corporatocracy, defined as a rule of the state by industries, was clearly at play when RBPlat management, citing confidentiality, refused to avail their prescribed Social and Labour Plan (SLP) and their Mining Charter Score Card.
In confrontational meetings, RBPlat strategy has been to wear out the community leaders by prolonging meetings, making insignificant concessions and unfulfilled promises. The ultimate aim by RBPlat being to cause mistrust among and between leaders, and to make the leadership lose face before its constituency. Consultations will subsequently be abandoned giving way to sustained hardships and poverty of the locals. These divisive and predatory strategies have been applied by Anglo American company and other mining companies all over the world in countries such as the DRC, Sudan and Somalia.
In October 2010, RBPlat’s Styldrift 1 Project had its security gate house burned down and boom gates destroyed by angry communities of Chaneng, Rasimone, Mafenya and Robega for lack of consultation. The Project destroyed the communities’ farming livelihoods.
On 26 August 2011, one community farmer lost more than 10 cattle worth more than R100 000,00. It is believed the mine instigated the loss, harassing the farmer to get him to relocate. Drilling machines were installed in front of his kraal’s gate and the loss could have been to mine induced theft. In a separate incident RBPlat’s drilling operations were conducted over an old grave.
RBPlat’s report on local beneficiation is pathetic to say the least. Out of a staff complement of 603 employees, 142 were migrant labour against 67 locals. The mine reserved procurement opportunities for alien companies with an excuse that ‘local companies are charging exorbitantly and need workshops on pricing’.
The mine’s skills development programme, praised by the mine’s Human Resources Development Department, employs unaccredited service providers.
The under-staffed Chaneng Clinic which services an ever escalating population of more than 20 000 people of Chaneng, Robega, Rasimone, Mafenya and Boshoek has become a thorny agenda item in every meeting. The clinic. which has no ambulance, has caused more than 4 deaths since January 2010. There are 2 nurses at a time and a doctor who come only on Mondays.
Due to lack of proper housing plan/ policy by RBPlat, a lot of their contract workers rent backyard dwellings in Chaneng and Robega, increasing the uncontrollable backyard population.
With this brutal cultural hazard perpetuated, the final death knell to what was once a peaceful Chaneng village, will come in 2016 when new nearby mining developments by Wesizwe/ PTM’s Meseve JV Project, Styldrift 1 & 2 and Impala Platinum’s 17 & 18 become fully operational.
RBPlat and its partners, Anglo Platinum, are comfortable to shift their social labour costs onto government and into the community. These costs include road damage, destruction and occupation of grazing land, increased air and noise pollution, increased informal settlements, inadequate health care systems, and cracking houses caused by mine blasting. By any means necessary, the mine will soon, with the help of government and the Bafokeng tribal authority, own the village, at no cost.
The situation is no different from the Palestine/Israeli dispute over the occupied Palestine land by the powerful minority settler Israeli Jewish state. The minority Chaneng community will soon become prisoners in their own land, occupied by the majority, more powerful, affluent, settler mine labour. This system is cleverly orchestrated by Anglo Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo American PLC, who are in partnership with RBPlat.
The fact is that communities’ rights are undermined by government, who work in cahoots with the mining companies. The Chaneng community, instead of reaping its platinum mineral wealth, will instead remain a poor, slave labour reserve for the mining companies.
In the meantime, the community of Chaneng has called on MEC Paul Sebego, Mayor of the Rustenburg Local Municipality, Mpho Khunou, and Ward Councillor Michael Mhlungu to press for a policy on ‘free, prior and informed consent’ for the communities. Such intervention resonates with the ANC Youth League’s call for nationalization of mines and its ‘economic freedom in our lifetime’ campaign.