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Activists from mining affected communities under the banner of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA) and Women Affected by Mining United in Action (WAMUA) say that they have reached a stage where they cannot continue to ask the government but will force engagement. According to national coordinator of MACUA, Meshack Mbangula, about 30 activists from different provinces will be picketing outside parliament on Tuesday demanding that the government recognise them and include them in policy making.

“We want free, prior and informed consent to be legislated so that meaningful consultation can be done. We expect them to be available tomorrow and to make sure that they commit themselves to include us in everything including economic development and policy making,” he said.

The organisations conducted social audit reports of the mining companies to check whether the mining companies adhere to the social labour plans intended to benefit the communities that host them, like building infrastructure, offering education opportunities and more. The reports, according to Mbangula, revealed that “99% of the mines do not comply with the social audits and we gave that report to DMRE [Department of Mineral Resources and Energy] so that they can hold them accountable but nothing happened,” Mbangula said.

Last month, mining-affected communities held a two-day indaba to contribute to the third draft of a legally binding treaty against human rights violations by businesses, which will be presented later this year at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

According to Mbangula, they have made several attempts to get the department of mineral resources and energy to respond and meet with them but they were shunned. “In 2020, MACUA and WAMUA delivered 50,000 signatures of affected community members to parliament, calling on them to meaningfully consult with communities to ensure that mining laws and regulations take into account the struggles of communities affected by mining and the particular risks faced by women.
Throughout 2021, we have sent email after email, memorandum after memorandum, and yet parliament, specifically the chairperson of the portfolio committee on mineral resources and energy, Sahlulele Luzipo, failed to respond to our numerous requests,” reads the statement from the organisations.

Mbangula said that they will do anything to get a response from the government including chaining themselves to the gates of parliament. The office of Sahlulele Luzipo did not respond to Elitsha‘s request for comment.