Royal Bafokeng’s Rasimone mine, mentioned in the article below, is 33% owned by Anglo Platinum, itself controlled by London-listed Anglo American.
Royal Bafokeng is the largest “black empowered” mining company in South Africa – the Royal Bafokeng Nation itself consisting of some 300,000 people.
Recently Impala Platinum (which has a secondary listing of the London Stock Exchange) bid for control of Royal Bafokeng.
Possible “nationalisation” of all south African mines has been at the forefront of  debate in the country during the past weeks –as has continued criticism of Black Economic Empowerment as never having done what it was promised to do, with more and more power and money being scooped up by black entrepreneurs.
On Friday, 01 October 2010, Chaneng Community Leadership committee were all “dressed up and looking good” when they suddenly changed their mind and suspended meeting Bafokeng executives due to reasons not disclosed to Chaneng ViBe.
Chaneng Executive Kgotla was to meet all key Royal Bafokeng Nation Executives for the 1st time in 2 years in its history. This meeting was to come after Chaneng Community Lekgotla, youth committee and Styldrift Project task team had hosted directors from Minister Shabangu and Minister Sonjica’s departments last week Wednesday to resolve a platinum mining-operation quarrel caused by ‘a deliberate and sustained disregard to the community concerns’.
The Chaneng community has for a period more than 2yrs relentlessly persisted in resisting an intruding Styldrift Project, despite delaying tactics by mine management. Until the take-over by Royal Bafokeng Platinum in January 2010, BRPM project has reached its lowest community confidence especially from Chaneng.
On 11 February 2010 the youth of Chaneng and nearby communities (Robega, Rasimone & Mafenya) held a demonstration which submitted a memorandum addressed to the Styldrift Project Manager, Mr. Glenn Harris, demanding an immediate “closure of the Styldrift Project within 24hours”. The demand was never hounoured and received the same ‘deaf ear attitude’ as all other preceding community requests and concerns.
A member of the community leadership highlighted that; “this (mining) issue is even causing a quarrel amongst us (community)”.
According to one member of the community’s Styldrift Project task team, it is not only a community splitting-up which is a recent threat; “we are driven by the mine management like a merry-go-round, and i don’t want to be in a merry-go-round. Our concerns are genuine and ought to have been considered prior to the project’s roll out, so whom did they consult? ”he asked.
A document titled Styldrift Project Community Consultation Report highlights the merry-go-round-story better.
“Time delaying tactics and intentional creation of conflict between the villages around the mines, has been the only response received, coupled with continued bug passing between the project team and the Royal Bafokeng Nation leadership which in turn has declined to meet or engage the Chaneng community kgotla/khuduthamaga(executive committee) despite numerous written correspondence.
“The community is thus left with no other option but to employ more aggressive strategies to enforce compliance”, the report concluded.
The ministerial intervention comes after a community complaint was laid in September, with the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs.
Residents of the Chaneng community stand firm in their resolve to involve a third party for purposes of mediation in this matter. This was reflected in a reply letter written to the new Senior Project Manager, Mr. Tom Sertic, who attempted to reopen discussions and in his words “build a good relationship since he is new”.
In the morning of the 22 September, Chaneng community members were picketing in and around Phokeng village as well as at the currently developed Styldrif Project mine.
This action is reported to “make sure that the mining and Bafokeng administration officials, are equally concerned as we(the Community), are concerned about this unlawful operation in our grazing and residing land”.
“It is clear that the project will harm the environment, deteriorate the quality of life, bring us more poverty and illness without any consideration or humane attempt to empower or benefit the community” added  a community member of Chaneng.
History bears testimony to the ruthless exploitation of communities by mining companies, the Chaneng community is but one of the many helpless black communities whose hope for justice and restoration of dignity lies on the ability of government to adequately and swiftly rise to their protection.
It has been reported to Chaneng ViBe that a community meeting will be held at 4pm this Tuesday, 05 October 2010 at Chaneng Primary School to bring a “new world order”.
Author: Joseph Magobe
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