Call for calm and leadership – Tendele
Further to a statement issued on the 24th October – the day after the murder of anti-mining activist, Fikile Ntshangase – Tendele Coal Mining and associated stakeholders issued a further press statement calling from calm and leadership.
CALL FOR CALM AND LEADERSHIP
Statement issued by Tendele on 27 October 2020
We were very saddened and concerned to hear of the incident that resulted in the death of Mrs. Fikile Ntshangase, the National Freedom Party’s district project coordinator. We wish to express our sincere condolences once again to the family and friends of Mrs. Ntshangase and wish to re-iterate our condemnation for any forms of violence and intimidation in the strongest possible terms.
We understand that an investigation is underway by the local police and are hopeful that the perpetrators of this terrible crime will be brought to book.
In an effort to ensure peace and stability in the area, the mine, together with local Community leaders, have continued to work collectively and collaboratively over the past few months with various spheres of Government (the Inter-Ministerial Task Team assembled by the Premier of KZN, with involvement of the Minister of Mines’ Ministerial Task Team, Community Safety COGTA and the Royal Council).
We will continue to work with these government structures in an effort to ease tensions in the area.
We remain committed to a sincere engagement with the MCEJO and all members of the community in an effort to find a solution that benefits all. To this end we have been calling for calm and leadership on the ground since 23 October and our legal advisors will within the next 48 hours approach the MCEJO advisors with the view to finding an amicable resolution for all interested and affected parties.
Mediation remains our objective to avoid the closure of the Mine which will result in the loss of 1 600 jobs in an area where unemployment is rife. If the Mine closes, this will have a devastating effect on the Community as thousands of people benefit directly and indirectly from the existence of the Mine. It is estimated that some 20 000 people directly benefit from the operation of the Mine and some 20 000 people have obtained educational/training benefits since the Mine’s inception some 14 years ago
Since September 2018, the Mine together with local leaders, including the Traditional Council, the Mtubatuba Municipality, Ward Councilors, the Mpukunyoni Community Mining Forum (MCMF) that represents the Indunas and elected leaders in each Isigodi around the Mine, NUM, AMCU and local entrepreneurs, representing 220 000 local community members, have all been working tirelessly in an effort to find an amicable resolution that ensures the long term survival of the Mine and which will allow the Mine to continue to assist with economic development in the area.
All the above parties (and the signatories to this press statement) are part of the Amicus Curiae (“Friends of the Court”) in the two court cases instituted against the mine as we wish to avoid the closure of the Mine. Should the mine close, it would have a devastating impact on our Community as result of the 1 600 job losses that the area’s residents are so dearly dependent on.
The signatories of this announcement are all leaders representing in excess of the 220 000 interested and affected parties.
The Mine and the Attorney representing the Amicus Curiae have on numerous occasions since January 2020, called on the MCEJO’s advisors to help us find a resolution by meeting peacefully with us so that we can engage meaningfully and thoughtfully with one another. This is to ensure that the community’s concerns are well understood, and a resolution is found that simultaneously ensures the mine’s sustainability, preservation of jobs and community needs.
At this time, calm and leadership is called upon from all parties to ease the tension in the current environment.
As people who are on the ground, we are fully aware of the hardships that will be caused if the future mining areas are not accessed.
We are comforted by the vast majority of the community who recognizes the importance of mining and who have over the past 14 years benefitted from the Mine’s existence in the Community. We recognize the social economic conditions in the impoverished area, and the impact that closure of the Mine will have on our Community.
The Mine, the Traditional Council, the MCMF and Attorney for the Amicus Curiae in the court cases have since 2017/18, on numerous occasions invited the GET Foundation and MCEJO to meet, to engage in a meaningful resolution for all parties and to discuss their concerns amicably, with the hope and desire that some middle ground can be reached. Regrettably, we understand the MCEJO organization’s constitution indicates as an objective, the closure off the Mine.
Since September 2018, the local Community leadership and the Mine have been concerned about the potential for violence in the area should the Mine not secure future mining areas. In order to reduce the risk of potential violence in the Community, the following pro-active interventions were undertaken:
- The Minister of Mines appointed a Ministerial Task Team in September 2018 to work alongside local leaders and the Mine to facilitate relocation negotiations and a formal Section 54 process was initiated.
- The Premier of KZN appointed an Inter-Ministerial Task Team a few months ago.
- The Royal Council, representing the Zulu King, working together with the Ingonyama Trust Board started engaging with our Community a few months ago.
- The mine has spent more than 10 000-man hours engaging and negotiating with families for relocation to facilitate expansion of the Mine. Within weeks following the national lock-down in March/April as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, as leaders, we could see the negative impact that the potential closure of the Mine would have on the Community. During April, some 10 000 people received food parcels from the Mine, in addition to 16 000 beneficiaries from the 1 600 employees of the Mine.
Tendele and the Amicus Curiae proposed informally during June and formally on 1 July 2020, a mediation process with the MCEJO in an attempt to resolve the concerns raised by the MCEJO in the court cases. Unfortunately, the advisors for the MCEJO waited to only revert on 27 August 2020 that the MCEJO wishes to join the mediation process.
During this period, the MCEJO members visited the MEC of Safety in KZN, and the Zulu King and “laid a complaint” against the Mkhwanazi Royal Family and the Mine. In response to the complaint received, the MEC of Safety and the Royal Council conducted its first meeting with local leaders on 17 July 2020 and thereafter on 24 July 2020 and various meetings with Community members followed. The Royal Council conducted its first meeting on 10 August 2020.
Very early on in these most recent discussions, it became apparent to the Inter-Ministerial Task Team and Royal Council that the matters are complex, requiring a responsible and sensitive engagement.
The Mine therefore urged the MCEJO Committee and MCEJO members in Somkhele (only a handful in relation to the some 220 000 members represented by the signatories below) to meet privately with the Royal Council and the Inter-Ministerial Task Team in an effort to find a peaceful and amicable resolution.
Sadly, the MCEJO and their advisors instructed their members not to take part in any of these workshops despite the MCEJO requesting His Majesty the Zulu King and the Premier for assistance.
All responsible leaders in the area and all people with a real interest in the well-being of the Community who sincerely wish to find solutions, are interacting with the Inter-Ministerial Task Team, the King’s Royal Council and the Mine.
We are also interacting with the MECs for Community Safety and Liaison and Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs with the aim to create calm and to prevent violence in the Mpukunyoni Community.
Our legal advisors have on numerous occasions tried to establish the mandate of the MCEJO‘s advisors to act for the MCEJO people in the Somkhele area, which confirmation has not been forthcoming. Regrettably, this matter has now been escalated to the Deputy Judge President.
Not one Community leader from the Somkhele Mining Area is a member of the MCEJO organization and not one Councillor in the municipality is a MCEJO member.
Not one job has been created by MCEJO and this organization and its advisors appear to not wish to acknowledge or convey the devastating effect the closure of the Mine will have on the local Community, municipality and businesses.
The risk of violence has been escalating, and the MCEJO members have been advised by their advisor to not to meet with the various task teams. However, members of the MCEJO Committee eventually met with the Traditional Council.
The MCEJO Committee then subsequently approached the Mine and following various meetings, has signed a memorandum of understanding that they wish to withdraw the court cases against the Mine.
The areas into which Tendele intends expanding its operations is less than 10km2 in size, which is a fraction of the area to which its 2016 Mining Right relates. Tendele has been operating for 14 years and will continue to conduct its operations in accordance with its approved environmental management programme and in accordance with its approved water use license.
Despite having the necessary authorisations to commence mining in the Ophondweni and Emalahleni areas, these future mining areas cannot as yet be accessed in light of the on-going litigation between the Mine and the MCEJO and until the proposed mediation regarding relocations has been finalised.
Mediation remains our objective to avoid the closure of the Mine which will result in the loss of 1 600 jobs in an area where unemployment is rife. If the Mine closes, this will have a devastating effect on the Community as thousands of people benefit directly and indirectly from the existence of the Mine. It is estimated that some 20 000 people directly benefit from the operation of the Mine and some 20 000 people have obtained educational/training benefits since the Mine’s inception some 14 years ago.
The existing mining areas of the Mine have been depleted and, since new mining areas have not been secured, the Mine has had to reduce down to one plant from 30 September 2020 and is operating at only 47% production capacity. The Mine will be forced to shut down completely after 2 years should it be unable to secure the new mining areas. This has already led to the commencement of the retrenchment of 400 Tendele employees.
Of the 400 retrenchments, 150 have already been retrenched and a further 250 retrenchments are planned for the end of January 2021. The entire mine now operates at half capacity, and all employees (87% from the Community) are now earning only 50% of their salaries.
The possibility of future mining areas being secured, will result in the Mine’s ability to operate for a further 10 years and provide job opportunities for 1 600 people and continue with economic development projects in the area.
Our Community desperately needs the Mine to survive as the major economic enterprise and employer in the region.
According to the local municipality’s Integrated Development Plan, Tendele has significantly contributed to the reduction of poverty in the area.
- Between 2006 and 2016, 225 families were relocated by the Somkhele Mine and another 145 families need to be relocated to ensure continued operations of the Mine. Agreements have been signed with 128 families (88%), following protracted negotiations and some 10 000-man hours spent during the last three and a half years.
Detailed relocation protocols have been developed under the guidance of the Traditional Council and MCMF, and the relocation compensation packages have been benchmarked against local and international norms. The minimum relocation amount for legitimate houses are R 400 000 and on average some R 750 000 are being paid per household. No monies are paid for land and grazing land as the families that are relocated, receive new land at no cost.
The inability to gain access to these new mining areas will result in massive job losses which will most certainly have a devastating impact on the area’s economy.
We wish the police and local authorities’ wisdom, and we call for a speedy yet thorough investigation to ensure the arrest of those involved.
We remain committed to a sincere engagement with the MCEJO and all members of the community in an effort to find a solution that benefits all. To this end, our legal advisors are preparing an invitation for further engagement with the MCEJO’s advisors and will within the next 48 hours approach the MCEJO advisors with the view to finding an amicable resolution for all interested and affected parties.
We furthermore mourn the death of Mr. Lucky Mathenjwa, who was employed by Alpha Security, the company that provides security services to Tendele, who was fatally shot on 24 October 2020. This tragic incident is believed to be an unrelated matter to the MCEJO case or relocations and is currently under investigation by the KwaMsane Police Station. Our sincerest condolences are conveyed to his family, friends and colleagues.
Signed/Approved on 27 October 2020:
Name of Leader and Position
Inkosi Luke Mkhwanazi – Mkhwanazi Royal House Member, Mpukunyoni Traditional Council (TC)
MC Zungu – MCMF Exco Chairman
GS Mkhwanazi – Mkhwanazi Royal House Member, Portfolio Head TC, MCMF Exco Member
MQ Mkhwanazi – Former Mtubatuba Mayor, Mkhwanazi Royal House Member, former Portfolio Head TC, Municipality Councillor, MCMF Exco Member
ASD Mkhwanazi – Mkhwanazi Royal House Member, MCMF Exco Member
Induna LX Mkhwanazi – Mkhwanazi Royal House Member, Induna Ophondweni
Induna J Gumedi – Induna for Myeki, (Including Emalahleni)
Mr. Mthetwa – Municipality Councillor (wards around the mine)
Mr S Kumalo – Municipality Councillor (wards around the mine)
AMCU Full Time Shop Steward
NUM Full Time Shop Steward
Sicelo Shandu (Director MBA – Mpukunyoni Business Association – some 70 businesses are supplying services to the Mine)
Nathi Kunene – Tendele Mine