By Rumbidzai M. Masango
The Economic Justice Network (EJN) of FOCCISA, in collaboration with its partners hosted the Third Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) from the 6th to the 8th of February 2012. The meeting which saw over eighty people coming together to advocate and lobby for economic justice, was held at the Upper Eastside Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.
Chanting slogans and singing songs, faith based-organisations, Pan-African Networks and Organisations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organisations from; Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Ecuador, Tanzania, Lesotho, Zambia, Canada, Norway, Botswana, Sweden, Brazil, Ghana, Philippines, Ecuador, and the Democratic Republic of Congo took part in a picket outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) literally stopping traffic and getting attention from the media and importantly some of the delegates from the African Mining Indaba. The official Mining Indaba is an annual event where multi-national companies and government representatives gather annually to discuss and network about mining issues related to the private sector.
The picket was the final major event of the AMI, where delegates stated their grievances notably the need to ensure that communities begin to benefit from the extraction of minerals resources. They called for the proper use of mineral resources for their countries’ long term economic and social development.
Key thematic areas of this year’s AMI were around tax justice, ecological debt and mining policies. The major demands from participants which were later reflected in the Declaration included calls for; companies to be compelled to report their financials and accounts on a country by country basis, there is also a need for communities to be strengthened in their capacity to monitor the enforcement of mining policies. A major call from the ecological perspective was the establishment of an international environmental court to address ecological claims or cases.
Fernanda Solíz from Ecuador and Mr Abdulai Darimani from Ghana shared their communities’ experiences. Mr Darimani explained that “local communities are faced with issues of pollution, displacements and lack of proper compensation.” He added that his country was still in the process of drafting a mining policy. From Latin America, Ms Soliz said the “war over the appropriation of natural resource brings all of us together.” Stating that in Ecuador there is serious ethnic discrimination in mining communities adding the urgent need for corrective as well as distributive justice in their mining sector. Historically, the World Bank has been involved in mining since 1955, mainly through grants from its International Bank of Reconstruction and Development. However, participants at the 3rd AMI were very sceptical of their continued involvement, especially questioning their true motives in the Global South.
A debate on Nationalization on the first evening of the three day meeting allowed participants to sharpen as well as question some ideas around the benefits and costs of nationalizing mines. This topic was also at the centre stage of the official mining indaba. For the full report on the 2012 Alternative Mining Indaba, click here .
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