Communities divided: Central Rand Gold the culprit?

The history of the gold mining industry is surrounded by no obscurity. 120 years of non-internalised negative externalities have resulted in a legacy of polluted surface- and groundwater, Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), air pollution, degraded land, gaping holes in the ground and un-enriched and disrupted communities.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), in terms of its Social and Labour Plan, was promulgated to effect the transformation of the mining industry and to ensure that holders of mining rights contribute towards the socio-economic development of the areas in which they are operating.

Mining communities in South Africa are often indigent, under-educated, disempowered, and in need of employment. They are ignorant of pollution and their environmental rights but there is a wide and important difference between ignorance of the jurisprudence principles of fairness, morality and justice and technical and legal particulars or details. These communities, although ignorant of legal and technical particulars or details, can reason correctly from premises which are suggested to their understanding and can justly estimate the consequences which are drawn from those premises.

It appears that Central Rand Gold (CRGSA) continues in its endeavours to divide communities by ignoring the democratically elected executive members of the affected communities. The South African Human Rights Commission observations and recommendations regarding Anglo Platinum, affected communities and other stakeholders, in and around the PPL mine Limpopo have relevancy, namely:

“The SAHRC is concerned about the lack of acknowledgement that Anglo Platinum has granted this important work and the lack of emphasis placed upon the importance of the active involvement of civil society in working together to empower communities. A related concern is the tangible tensions which exist between civil society organisations seen to be acting on behalf of communities resisting relocation or aspects thereof and Anglo Platinum.”

In view of the aforesaid, it is once more strongly advised that CRGSA recognizes the democratically elected representatives of the affected communities that are acting on behalf of communities and working towards empowering them.
Central Rand Gold (CRG), a junior mining house, has been accused of dividing communities in southern Joburg, in which it operates old mines to reclaim gold.

See also below:

CRG splits communities, says Acer

By Wiseman Khuzwayo

Central Rand Gold (CRG), a junior mining house, has been accused of dividing communities in southern Joburg, in which it operates old mines to reclaim gold.

The communities signed a memorandum of understanding with the firm in which they were promised a 10 percent stake in CRG as part of its mining licence application. The firm offered to create jobs for local people.

These communities are represented by the affected communities’ elected representatives (Acer), headed by an executive committee. The chairman of the committee accuses CRG of dividing the communities by backing a parallel structure that has circulated a petition to be handed to the firm, passing a vote of no confidence in the committee.

Committee chairman Godfrey Makomene says, according to the memorandum, only Acer is empowered to call meetings between CRG and committees. But, he says, the firm continues to call communities to meetings without going through Acer.

CRG chief executive Johan du Toit did not reply to Business Report enquiries on the charges.

Campaigner Mariette Liefferink was appointed by the executive committee to be its spokeswoman. However, in a letter to Du Toit, she accused CRG representatives of “advocating hatred” against her.

CRG is represented at the community meetings by Kenny Kunene and Gayton McKenzie, who, as prisoners, shot to fame by exposing corrupt warders.

McKenzie goes by the title chief corporate strategist, while Kunene is the executive of communities.

Makomene accused CRG of using procurement as a tool to divide and buy Acer members.

As part of the memorandum, CRG promised to help the communities register 100 local firms for procurement and service opportunities at CRG.

Now, one individual – not Acer – has apparently been given R250 000 by CRG for this purpose. Makomene claimed the funds were given to Tebogo Mashoeng, chairman of the Soweto Business Chamber.

“We don’t know how he was selected and he doesn’t account to us,” said Makomene, who named Mashoeng as the leader of the group that had tried to stage a palace coup, something Mashoeng denied, saying the decision was made by community representatives.

In the memorandum, CRG had promised to open an office for Acer within seven days of being given the mining rights, but one had not been opened, said Makomene.

“CRG does not want to keep its promises,” he fumed.

As a result, he said, Acer had lodged a complaint with the department of minerals and energy.

Susan Malebe, the regional manager for the department, said she was not aware that CRG had made such a promise.

In February, CRG kicked out Puno Gold Investments, a consortium of empowerment groups. It had a 26 percent interest in the mining company.

CRG says that during its unprecedented social consultation programme it held meetings attended by 20 000 people from communities near its mines.

“To date Puno has neither fulfilled its funding obligations “¦ nor demonstrated commitment to the communities it was expected to represent, as it has not attended any consultation meetings,” CRG said.

Subsequently, CRG Netherlands Antilles had exercised a call option to acquire Puno’s entire interest in CRG. This shareholding would depend on the outcome of arrangements with other interested parties that ensured a broader-based community involvement in CRG.

Puno Gold and Harry Mason have submitted a complaint to the JSE and the London Stock Exchange, where CRG is listed.

The complaints relate to alleged inaccuracies in CRG’s prospectus.

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