We, representatives of Civil Society Organisations; Faith Based Organisations, Pan-African Networks and Organisations, Labour Movements, Members of Parliament, media, ÂÂ international partners and Community Based Organisations; gathered at the Ritz Hotel, Cape Town on the occasion of the 5th People’s Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) from 4th to 6th February, 2014, to express our deep concern regarding the continued limited contribution of the extractive sector to the pro-poor development agenda of African countries.
These organisations, representing persons from a range of countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe, met and reaffirmed their belief in a society that puts people before profits. Once again, we find ourselves ÂÂÂ confronted by corporate greed and the lack of government will in protecting the environment, social and economic well being of communities.
We are dismayed by the continued rush for profits by Multinational and Trans National Corporations at the cost of human rights, women’s rights, livelihoods, environment and health.
We continue to note with concern, that the “Rich People’s Indaba”, has once again excluded the true owners of the land from their conference, and warn that severe hardship, social conflicts and unsustainability will result, when our land and heritage is sold at the altar of foreign governments and transnational corporations.
Conference organisers reported at the (Rich Peoples) Mining Indaba (International Convention Centre in Cape Town) has over the past year attempted to stop us from using the phrase Alternative Mining Indaba, which runs contrary to free speech granted by our constitution. As civil society representatives, committed to building a society based on socio-economic and political justice and the values of Ubuntu, we have an inalienable right to speak and organise whereever we want. It is worth mentioning that the word Indaba is not a thing to be privatised. For us it is not just a word, but a means of Africans getting together, thinking, sharing and working out solutions together. This was evident in our deliberations.
The Alternative Mining Indaba deliberated on a range of themes that included community rights - a key to empowerment; mining and social protection, extractives –illict financial flows, oil, gas and foresty sector. These are some of our concerns:
1. Community rights - a key to empowerment;
i. We note with concern that communities continue to be marginalised in matters affecting their own lives. In South Africa for example, communities are excluded from being participants in Social and Labour Plans, matters related to community infrastracture and economic well being. This is anti democratic, and reinforces colonial and Apartheid practices. Truly democratic legislation will ensure that people remain the centre of their own development.
ii. We continue to learn of the continued impoverishment of mining communities, and mining sending communities, in contrast to the mass profits of the share-holders and chief executive officers.
iii. Communities continue to cry out against the rush for extractives profits, which defy all norms of fair play, consulations and negotiations with communities.
iv. We have observed a blatant disregard for human rights and a continued externalisation of mining costs. Whilst profits are privatised, the true costs to health, environment, ecology, economy and social wellbeing of workers and communities is ignored in law and practice by the elites in our countries.ÂÂ
v. Instead of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), we find sham consultations and agreements with unmandated elites circumventing full participation of the communities in determining whether mining should take place or not. For us FPIC, is not a once-off process, but ÂÂÂ continuous processes of negotiating and consulting with communities on matters of importance to them. FPIC also means the right to say NO to mining and we urge governments to ensure that communities’ wishes are respected and the alternatives funded, so that communities are not punished for choosing alternatives to mining.
vi. We have resolved to name and shame companies that are found to have violated Human Rights and Environmental Rights at every gathering we will have, ÂÂ which will be followed by cases being laid against the company ÂÂ
On customary law;
vii. We reject the current practice which gives individual and unelected chiefs all the powers over the resources to his or her community. ÂÂ
viii. We further call on governments to mobilise the political will and recognise and use customary law which will assert the customary laws and entitlements of the community as equal to statutory regulation. This will grant communities greater rights than corporations to own, and utilise their own natural resources. We trust our goverments and law makers will read into these values of our progressive constitutions such as community entitlement, anti racism, anti sexism and equal rights for women.
2. Mining and social protection,ÂÂ
i. Whilst shareholders and CEOs have raked in millions, mining communities remain trapped in extreme poverty and inequality. We call for extreme and urgent measures to relieve hardships in the short term, and to lay the basis for sustainable socio economic development which does no harm to the ecology, local commuities and their wellbeing.
ii. We ÂÂÂ call for a critical review of the whole system of revenue collection and distribution, royalties, to evaluate if it works, where it works, and how it works on the continent. Participants acknowledge that the implementation of these are adhoc, non transparent and generally yield no benefits to communities.
iii. We also call on governments to regulate the corporations without fear or favour, and ensure that mining and other extractive companies are held accountable for the true costs of mining as they impact on local communities and individuals.
iv. We learnt about the value of a universal incomes support and will be studying the possibilities for a SADC wide Basic Income Grant as a temporary measure to alleviate destitute poverty as more comprehensive forms of sustainable decent work are being explored.ÂÂ
Fighting Corruption, maladministrationv. Corruption and mismanagement of our natural resources undermines sustainable development and is a loophole for corrupt and unscrupulous individuals in government and in corporations. We call for community vigilance in exposing these acts and ask the law enforcement agencies to prosecute those found wanting.
BeneficiationÂÂÂ vi. Governments should embrace the concept of beneficiation that entails value addition and the transformation of a mineral ÂÂÂ to a higher value product, which can either be consumed locally or exported and yield higher revenues for producing countries.ÂÂ
vii. We call on all the mineral-producing national governments to beneficiate all the minerals with a large share of development being vested for hosting communities as prescribed by negotiations with the communitiesÂÂ
3. Extractives – illict financial flows,
The alternative Indaba expressed outrage, when they learnt that Africa is “losing” mineral revenue estimated at USD 50 Billion per annum due to illicit financial flows often facilitated by governments working with transnational corporations through tax avoidance and tax evasion.i. We call on African governments to prioritize combating the scourge of illicit financial flows in the mining sector by strengthening the capacity of regulatory institutions in order for these Institutions to effectively carry out their work in identifying and curbing illicit financial flows.
ii. Governments must redouble their commitment to strenghtening and enforcing tough disclosure measures that are timely, transparent, and accountable to parliament and communities. We believe it is high time, to enact legislation that promotes mandatory reporting of taxes and other payments to governments, production, sales, and profits by all Transnational Corporations in all jurisdictions where they operate in their audited annual reports and tax returns and for governments to make public this information to the general citizenry. ÂÂ For this to be effective, government should build the capacity of regulatory institutions to carry out their own independent audits to validate reports of the companies.
iii. We call on governments and companies to make all contracts and legal agreements for extractive industries projects public, to align with global norms and best practice on the continent.ÂÂÂ
iv. We call upon African governments to enact legislation that prohibits public officials from engaging in business activities, owning shares or sitting on a board of a company or companies that will conflict with or compromise their public responsibilities in the sectors that they are meant to be regulating.ÂÂ
v. We demand complete transparency of Beneficial Ownership of multinational corporations and state companies through a public registry in order to make public the control, accounts of companies, trusts and foundations in each jurisdiction they operate in.ÂÂ
vi. We call on our governments to adopt Automatic Exchange of Tax Information amongst governments. This should be done by collecting data from financial institutions on the financial assets within their domain and automatically provide it to governments where the non-resident individual or entity beneficially controlling the structure is located.ÂÂ
vii. We must harmonise laws that deal with the offences for money laundering including tax evasion and fraud, as well as crimes committed both at home and abroad.
4. Oil, gas and foresty sector
i. We note the new push to develop unconventional gas resources through fracking. We oppose fracking, because of the significant risks of water pollution and risks to health and livelihoods. It is clear that African governments are not prepared to evaluate or address the inherent risks. ÂÂ
ii. Communities spoke out against current inequitous land laws in many countries where ownership only refers to surface land. We demand genuine land reform, and fair and equal compensation for those evicted to make way for mining. This decision must be subject to communities’ free prior and informed consent.
iii. Communities demand that they be included to jointly search for just, participatory and inclusive alternatives to sourcing and use of energy. More resources must be made available to poor communities to reduce their reliance on charcoal burning. These alternatives include geothermal, wind, water and gas -sources of energy that put the needs and aspirations of people and their communites, and the environment above the race for profits.
Way forwardWe, civil society organisations at large, from ÂÂ Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Bostwana, Nambia, Kenya, Malawi, Burma, Brazil, Angola, Cameroon, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, Canada and Norway;
• Commit to fight for these demands and will meet again to evaluate our progress next year. To ensure implementation of this programme, we call on communities to meet in national mining indabas which will build unity amongst various communities and civil society organisations so that we can effectively monitor and ensure governments and corporations become accountable to communities, and the wider society.
• We recognise that our strength lies in unity, we have resolved that to best achieve the results we will rally faith communities to join hands with us in the struggle to protect integrity of creation as God has bestowed trust in all of us, particularly the faith community who are best placed to exhort the fulfilment of the prophetic role as we pray and advocate for change.