The intervention of President Cyril Ramaphosa has resulted in the withdrawal of the controversial 2017 Mining Charter and the postponement of a court battle to facilitate an all-inclusive consultative process about a new Charter.
A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria, led by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, yesterday postponed the Chamber of Mines’ application to have the charter set aside indefinitely, but recorded that affected mining communities were interested and relevant stakeholders in the finalisation of a new Mining Charter.
Judge Mlambo said it would in their view be prudent that the concerns of the mining communities be properly addressed.
A group of mineworkers staged a demonstration outside the court to protest against being excluded from the weekend’s consultations between the president and Chamber of Mines.
Minerals and Energy Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane made it clear in court papers that he recognised the mining communities as interested parties.
Louise du Plessis from Lawyers for Human Rights, which represents some of the communities, welcomed the ruling, but said they would carefully watch the process and would not hesitate to approach the court again if their clients’ rights were affected.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, which represents several community networks, described the ruling as a “tremendous outcome”, especially where the organisations were at no stage invited to participate in discussions between the state and the Chamber of Mines.
They said the weekend’s experience mirrored the daily experience of mining affected communities across South Africa and was part of the same pattern of exclusion that led communities to approach the court in the first place.
Trade union Solidarity, which acted as a friend of the court, said Zwane and his lackeys at the department would immediately have to be replaced for negotiations to succeed.
The union’s Gideon du Plessis said negotiations could only succeed if bona fide community groups participated in the negotiations, the negotiating platform was not used for grandstanding and all parties had the growth and sustainability of the mining industry as a common goal.
He called for proposed amendments to legislation on mineral and petroleum resources to form part of the negotiations.
Jomo Keromeng of the Bakgatla ba Sefikile community near Swartklip in Limpopo said the community was grateful to be stakeholders, but wanted to play a decision-making role in matters that affected them directly, instead of just being labourers.