MPs have criticised the controversial decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs to approve an application for coal mining in the Mabola protected environment in Mpumalanga. Last year, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa quietly approved the application by Atha-Africa Ventures, an Indian mining company that allegedly has links to relatives of President Jacob Zuma, to start an underground coal mine in the protected environment. According to documents sourced by independent investigative journalism unit amaBhungane, Atha-Africa Ventures is in partnership with Bashubile Trust, which has as its trustees Sizwe Christopher Zuma, Vincent Gezinhliziyo Zuma and Thabiso Mpofu. Speculation is that the Zumas are Zuma’s nephews. The company secured environmental, mining and water-use licences. Mabola is a critical water-catchment area and there are concerns the mining operation will contaminate the water. On Tuesday, department officials briefed MPs on initiatives to regulate min...

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