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This is the Real Mining Indaba: SayAMI 2014 delegates

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The_Real_IndabaAlthough multinational mining companies are often criticised, African governments are the biggest culprits in the leakages of mineral proceeds from Africa, the 5th Alternative Mining Indaba heard in Cape Town yesterday.

Figures released in one of the four thematic breakaway sessions of the indaba, which seeks to give voice to mine workers and communities affected by mining show that under-invoicing, transfer pricing,  tax avoidance  and evasion and dubious inter-company loans among other shenanigans by the corporate sector, accounted for 60% of mining revenue leakages while official corruption accounted for  5%. A Zambian official said his country had lost more than $8.8 billion over ten years to these kinds of practices.

The Alternative Mining Indaba, attended by about 200 delegates from civil society organisations and faith-based groups as well as international development organisations such as Oxfam,  is taking place at a hotel in Seapoint, Capet Town, a stone’s throw away from the upmarket Cape Town Convention Centre where about 6000 delegates from the world’s 2000-organisation oligarchy have descended for their own annual Mining Indaba. However, in spite of its smaller gathering, the AMI maintains that it is the true mining Indaba as it represents people’s voices.

“This is the real mining indaba.  The other represents  the interests of the minority while here, in an insignificant corner of Cape Town it is the interests of the majority of the people that are under consideration,”  keynote speaker Dr Godfrey Kanyenze  said.  He concurred with social activists that mining had only brought huge profits for the large mining corporations but displacement, environmental degradation, health hazards and squalor for  most communities in Africa.

Kanyenze tore apart what he called the myth of the “Africa is on the rise” mantra now being found in most mainstream mass media.  He said the same media had once labelled Africa “the hopeless continent.” The economist and pro- labour activist said those claiming Africa was on the rise were merely looking at overall GDP figures without analysing them and considering the welfare of people.

He argued that a closer look at the Africa Rising phenomenon would reveal a very skewed pattern where the so-called rise in GDP was largely only a growth in mining output that was simply shipped out of the continent.  The same applied to the growth in foreign direct investment. Real growth would come if there was value addition to the minerals In Africa and a growth in other value adding economic activities such as manufacturing and service provision.

“But as things stand we are merely perpetuating the objectives of the Berlin Conference of 1887,” Kanyenze pointed out.

The Executive Director of the Economic Justice Network, conveners of the indaba, Rev Malcolm Damon, said Africa cannot be said to be rising when the quality of life of its people is not rising along with the GDP growth figures. He said his organisation would continue to fight for the economic rights of the oppressed in the mining sector in spite of the threats issued against its use of the name Alternative Mining Indaba by the corporate backed Mining Indaba.

“One of the outputs of this meeting is to come out with a statement that we can take from here and share with our stakeholders,” Malcolm said. The delegates are expected to carry out a march on Thursday to air grievances on behalf of those exploited by mining companies. He stressed that events such as the strike at Marikana platinum mines were merely a manifestation of unmet expectations by workers, who he said should be paid a living wage. Natural resources should not only be exploited for the benefit of a few shareholders, he said.

Many participants at the indaba were in a radical mood, with some insisting that the time for holding dialogue with mining companies was over and there should be unspecified action. Delegates from Brazil suggested that it would be better to stop mining activities that did not benefit locals and instead concentrate on agriculture which in the long term could earn 500% more than minerals which deplete resources such as land and water.

This was well-received by some of the African delegates who felt that it would be better to stop exploitation of the exhaustible minerals and preserve the lands. Furthermore, it was observed, many of the mining laws in Africa stemmed from colonial days and were therefore designed to exploit the local communities at the expense of a few elites.

This saw some participants standing up and chanting the chorus “Leli yilizwe labokhokho bethu abantu abamnyama” (This is the land of our black forefathers) in defence against exploitation.

However,  it was not only foreigners exploiters that came under fire at the meet, participants showed outrage at the complicity of African leaders and politicians in the exploitation of the continent’s minerals for a song. Delegates from different countries gave examples of how corrupt politicians in their countries signed away concessions for a song in return for bribes. Also, in many African countries, particularly in Angola and Zimbabwe the military were heavily involved in mining activities, exacerbating lack of transparency.

African Union representative Dr Kojo Busia said this was one of the issues the AU’s African Mining Vision intended to tackle.

“The benefits of mining in Africa are not being felt by its citizens. Failure to address this will result in strife,” Kojo warned.

 

5th Alternative Mining Indaba Kicks Off

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BusiaCAPE TOWN – More than 200 members of mining communities, civil society organizations, faith groups and inter-faith organizations are meeting in Cape Town, South Africa from 4 to 6 February to host the 5th Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) at the Ritz Hotel in Cape Town. The AMI is a response to the African Mining Indaba, the largest mining investment conference in the world, and aims to highlight the social and environmental impacts of mining in Africa.

The theme of the 2014 AMI is “Our Resources. Our Future. Putting Local People First.” The forum will provide a dialogue for communities and civil society organizations to discuss progress made in improving the social, environmental and economic impacts of mining on communities. In particular, the 2014 AMI will provide an update on the efforts that countries are making to avoid a repeat of the 2012 Marikana massacre in South Africa.

The 5th annual Alternative Mining Indaba brings together communities from mining areas, civil society and faith groups to discuss the social and environmental impacts of mining in Africa.

 

The Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) seeks to provide a space to question whether the captains of industry in the mining sector have indeed been good stewards through the way they execute business. Community concerns, environmental degradation, methods and consistency in payment of taxes, human rights concerns and sustainability are but a few issues which the Cape Town gathering seeks to unpack. Moreover, the AMI also aims at popularizing the African Mining Vision adopted by African Heads of State and Government which represents a paradigm shift in the approach to mineral resource extraction on the continent.

The Alternative Mining Indaba platform, which was formed in 2010, seeks to discuss and understand the stakes involved in exploiting natural resources. The platform goes beyond profits, mergers and acquisitions with a focus on community development strategies, calling for good governance of revenues and in particular seeks to define and find ways to implement ethical policies in the extractive sector value-chain, thus creating conditions for a positive economic and social outcome, while avoiding any negative environmental and social effects.
Four years ago organizations in the Southern African region agreed to collaborate in raising concerns about the manner in which natural resources are extracted by holding an annual Alternative Mining Indaba. The Economic Justice Network, through the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa and others, committed to mobilizing faith communities to analyse the inconsistencies in the extractive sector by providing a platform where communities could freely discuss their experiences with mining activities. “The manner in which the mining industry has treated (and continues to treat) mineworkers is not acceptable,” says Brother Chris Molebatsi, from the Marikana community said. “The Marikana community is an example yet not an exception. The AMI is an opportunity for mining communities to galvanise their courage and come up with strategies to resist this exploitation by our governments and multinationals".Mining is a huge industry in Africa: 
24 of Africa’s 54 countries rely on 8 per cent of global mineral production to generate more than 75 per cent of their export earnings.1 

Billions of US dollars of foreign investment have been channelled into the African mining value chain during the past 19 years of the Mining Indaba.2

 • The continent hosts about 30 per cent of the world’s total mineral reserves and an even higher portion of the global deposits of diamonds, vanadium, manganese, platinum, cobalt and gold.1 
Despite this, mineral wealth has not translated into better living and working conditions for people living on the continent:

•The quality of life of a citizen in sub-Saharan Africa ranks among the lowest globally, according to the UNDP. Most communities involved in exploration have poor access to running water and electricity, community roads are neglected, and health and education infrastructure are inadequate for primary care and schooling.

 • Worker unrest is growing, as was seen during the August 2012 Marikana miners’ strike where 44 people died. 

Mining has led to soil erosion, depleted water sources, affected aquatic life, accelerated desertification, increased pace of river siltation and water and air pollution.• Communities have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral, agricultural and grazing land, negatively affecting livelihoods, endangering food security and destabilizing social systems.

Corruption is also hampering growth: the Africa Development Bank and Global Financial Integrity reported that Africa lost more than $1.4 trillion in illicit financial flows between 1980 and 2009.3 The mining and extractive sectors are frequently plagued by corruption and contribute significantly to that figure.
“Mining operations must benefit the countries where they operate by creating jobs, generating revenues and then reinvesting in health, education and infrastructure,” says Thembinkosi Dlamini, Governance Manager at Oxfam South Africa. “Instead, mining companies and governments have too often been externalizing profits and internalizing environmental impacts.” Since 1994, financiers, investors, mining professionals, government officials and other interested parties have attended the annual African Mining Indaba. This event is said to be the “preferred destination to conduct important business and make the vital relationships to sustain investment interests”. “Mining operations must benefit the countries where they operate by creating jobs, generating revenues and then reinvesting in health, education and infrastructure,” says Thembinkosi Dlamini, Governance Manager at Oxfam South Africa. “Instead, mining companies and governments have too often been externalizing profits and internalizing environmental impacts.” Since 1994, financiers, investors, mining professionals, government officials and other interested parties have attended the annual African Mining Indaba. This event is said to be the “preferred destination to conduct important business and make the vital relationships to sustain investment interests”. “Africa is gaining momentum and seems unstoppable in its quest to reverse the ‘resource curse’. But the captains of the mining industry need to be held accountable,” says Rev Malcolm Damon, Executive Director of Economic Justice Network. “The Alternative Mining Indaba is a result of the commitment across civil society groups to bring accountability and transparency to the mining sector.”

Please Contact:

Mandla Mbongeni Hadebe

Programmes Manager

Economic Justice NetworkOf the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa

(FOCCISA)

Tel: +27 21 424 9563

Fax: +27 21 424 9564

Mobile: +27 73 997 8660

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Skype:  mandlahadebe

 

9th CSF in Malawi - acting together, ensuring accountability!

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The 9th civil society forum (CSF) will be held from 11 - 15 August in Malawi, the in-coming chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The forum will be held under the theme the SADC We Want: acting together-ensuring accountability. This theme is taking forward the broader campaign on the SADC We Want that the SADC Council of NGOs will be rolling out at the national and regional levels in the next five years. Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA will be attending and contributing to the programme. For more info click here for the concept note .

 

Botswana Alternative Mining Forum

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By Nsama Chikwanka

The Botswana Council of Churches (BCC) hosted their first Alternative Mining Forum/Lekgotla in Gaborone from the 24-25th June 2013. The AMI was well attended, with the over 90 participants representing civil society, students, clergy, central and government officials, mining companies, community leaders, mining professionals, the media, and solidarity from representatives of Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The theme of the forum was ‘Mining in Botswana; towards promoting justice and sustainable development.’

The purpose of the forum was to provide an alternative space for stakeholders to identify and discuss some of the challenges in Botswana’s Mining/Extractive Industry Sector. The space also sought to share information on achievements, policy gaps and strategies that could help promote natural resources’ governance, transparency and sustainability. Moreover participants were encouraged to create and strengthen linkages for regular dialogue between the various Government Departments, Civil Society, Communities and key stakeholders in the Mining Sector.

Prof. Grynberg, from Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) presented a very enlightening paper on the gaps and opportunities in the Botswana mining industry highlighting the need for the country to consider diversifying into either copper or Coal mining. He argued that so far, mining was doing it for the country’s economy especially if it has to survive the threat that synthetic diamonds from India and China pose to global prices.

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