- Press Statements
- 2010 NGC
- National Congresses
Dear Minister Mosebenzi Zwane
I wish to extend revolutionary greetings to you.
On behalf of the African National Congress Youth League, I am writing this letter to raise a few matters of concern and interest to us as an organization. All of these matters are related to the functions of your department and the strategic mandate emanating from ANC resolutions and our own perspectives that should underpin your work.
Firstly, as the ANCYL we are taken aback by the posture you have adopted in handling the recent quagmire in Johannesburg involving the so-called `Zama Zamas" or `illegal miners`. This is in view of the fact that there are two competing schools of thought in relation to this matter: those who believe in punitive measures without entertaining any alternative but to bring the full might of the law to the "Zama Zama" on the one hand and those who believe in a developmental approach that considers the possibility of this market being formalized and regulated on the other hand.
With regards the latter perspective, the justifying factor is that there are low hanging fruits that may assist government in addressing the socio-economic crisis that mining communities are trapped in. This is because the very rise of this `Zama Zama` trend is an indictment on the criminality of the mining industry in so far as development of mining communities is concerned.
These Mining Companies are guilty of serious environmental degradation and air pollution that condemn surrounding communities to health hazards and are guilty of low levels of investment in socio-economic projects in mining towns. They also have a tendency to displace local labor by employing foreign nationals whose pressured circumstances make them susceptible to super exploitation. This is the structural tension that produces desperation to the extent that people risk their lives trying to scrape through the disused mines to make a living.
Furthermore, and perhaps more strategic to this discussion, there is an obvious syndicate that is linked to these so-called illegal mining activities. It is not unreasonable to make the point that there is an extensive and global value-chain that buys and trades in the ores that are extracted by these poor black people in disused mines. This is what should be investigated with vigor and exposed. In its criminality, it also proves that there is a market that can be exploited under more structured and legal processes if this form of `Zama Zama` mining is formalized and regulated.
Your department seems to have tied itself together with the Chamber of Mines in advancing the perspective of bringing the full might of the law without looking at alternatives. We note and are mindful of the concerns you are raising i.e. deaths and diseases. From where we are sitting, we find that hypocritical given the fact that even in the formal sector there are deaths and diseases that bedevil workers; with miners being exposed to hazardous fumes, gas, and collapsing shafts. This is the formal sector being operated mainly by racist monopoly capital, the chief representative of which is the Chamber of Mines. We are not promoting illegality but are proposing a revisitation of the moral thinking around legality to start with. We also reject the tendency of our comrades who, as soon as they ascend to positions of power, use existing punitive law as their first point of reference in resolving developmental challenges.
Minister, we are quite aware of the challenges that the Mining Sector is operating under as it is in the backbone of our economy. Amongst these challenges is the trend in which transformative pieces of legislation are countered with court challenges by representatives of White Monopoly Capital. However, we shall not take that as a justification for your department to continue in dragging its feet on strategic matters. We expect you to use the tools at your disposal in making sure that you protect the majority of our people who are impoverished and can`t afford top lawyers to represent them against the heartless mining conglomerates. In respect of this point, we wish to highlight a few matters that we want you to quickly resolve.
1. STATE OWNED MINING COMPANY
It is common course that your department gazetted the AFRICAN EXPLORATION MINING AND FINANCE CORPORATION BILL early this year. This is consistent with the ANC NGC instruction to strengthen the State Mining Company through "consolidation of all state mining holdings". However, since the gazette we have not heard much progress on the finalization of the process we want to know when will this be effected as parliament will soon be going on recess.
Moreover, our impatience with this process is related to the more strategic need for the nationalization of mines that we have historically been calling for. In the context of this objective, we want to see a systematic move towards legislation that will see the State Owned Mining Company, as soon as it is operational, taking up ownership and control of greater mines in the country. This will also require an amendment to the MPRDA to the effect that Mining Licenses be issued out with the condition that the State Owned Mining Company will own 51% as a custodian of the people of South Africa.
2. MINING CHARTER
On April 15, 2016 you called for comments on the process to review the Mining Charter which makes some bold proposals. We are also aware that due to some of the noble goals contained in the revised Charter there was a looming court challenge from established white mining capital to block those changes. Since then the department has not taken the public into confidence on the next steps you will take to ensure that you do not backtrack on the process your department has initiated.
In this regard, we are challenging you to make public your position in order for us as the ANCYL to mobilize all progressive social forces in defense of progressive amendments to the charter and to further elaborate on other areas that require strengthening.
3. MINERAL PETROLEUM RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT BILL
We wish to raise with you that failure to facilitate a speedy passing of amendments to the Mineral Petroleum Resources Development Bill will affect the operations of the State Mining Company.
This is in relation to such objectives as the "reservation of select strategic mineral properties" that must be reserved for the State Mining company as part of the strategy of localizing industrial inputs for building a processing value-chain. We are aware that the bill was referred to the National Assembly due to alleged constitutional concerns. Nonetheless our insistence is for a hastened resolution of this matter because sustained delays will affect the implementation of the changes effected in the State Mining Company Bill. As the ANCYL we demand that you see to it that the matter is urgently resolved.
As I had earlier stated, all of these matters herein raised are of interest and concern to us. Thus this letter is occasioned by the fact that ANC Youth League has become rather impatient with the slow pace of transformation in the mining sector. Consequently, we insist that all of these matters must be fast-tracked and the Minister needs to give us a clear and timed response.
NJABULO B NZUZA
SECRETARY GENERAL (ANC Youth League)