SWOP put together a set of comments on the Mine Community Resettlement Guidelines that were put forward by the Department of Mineral Resources in December 2019. The comments are below, and the published Guidelines can be found here. We welcome feedback that can be sent to Dr Dineo Skosana.
Mine Community Resettlement Guidelines 2019
Society Work and Politics Institute (Wits University)- Comments 31 January 2020
Dr Dineo Skosana
First, it must be made clear that no amount of compensation can replace the loss of land, dignity, attachment and belonging which our people suffer as a result of mining. Connections to land are made at birth and death. Whereas, resettlements bear the result of disoriented communities (society). Therefore, if communities are to be removed from the land which is marked by their umbilical-cords in the name of jobs and development (a market-based rationale), their rights to dignity must be fundamentally restored and accordingly compensated.
Communities’ rights to say no to relocations and resettlement must be taken seriously. The guidelines leave no room for communities to resist relocations or mining. This undermines the precedence which has been set by victories in cases like Xolobeni and Lesethleng.
The definition of interested and affected parties excludes those who are forced to move on their own accord because of the effects of mining. It assumes that the relocations and resettlement is always a formally organised process. Individual families who wish to move or have moved because the conditions of being a resident next to a mine are unbearable, should be compensated.
Those who experience structural damage on their properties due to mining must be compensated.
The guidelines do not consider previous resettlement projects which have failed. For example, Glencore built houses for a community that was relocated from white agricultural farmland in Ogies (Mpumalanga), 2015 to Makause (Phola). The community was relocated next to another commencing mine and the quality of those houses is poor. Will the guidelines allow communities of this nature to claim?
The guidelines should ensure that no community is resettled next to mining activities.
There is no mention of whether those who suffered loss prior to the signing of these guidelines can claim for compensation. Many communities have already suffered loss (homes, graves, livelihoods, and health) as a result of mining. They, too, must be compensated.
The loss of fields must be compensated. Often these create generational wealth for families. The compensation must be cognizant of this.
Ancestral grave violations and relocations which are regulated by the NHRA must be compensated. The guideless do not mention grave relocations which often form part of household resettlement. Grave relocations are accompanied by ceremonies for the spiritual security of the affected families. The guidelines must provide for compensation. Things such as a cow, goat, transportation for relatives, food, as well as counselling are essential.
Those who can medically demonstrate that they contracted illnesses from residing next to mining activities, must be compensated.
Resettlement agreements must be in a language which communities understand.
Before consent is given (during consultations) both the positives and negatives of authorisation must be discussed with communities.
For affordability reasons, some communities use medicinal plants to avoid consulting western medical doctors. When resettled, they lose access to these. The guidelines do not mention whether this kind of loss will too, be compensated.