The power of communities to decide on their governance and developmental paths has been stripped away, an ActionAid SA survey finds.
The power of communities to decide on their governance and developmental paths has been stripped away, an ActionAid SA survey finds.

Most residents of eight mining communities that were surveyed by an antipovertyagency said that they derived no benefit from having a mine in their area and that  its proximity brought health and environmental problems instead.

This is despite the stated intention of mining legislation and the Mining Charter for communities to benefit from social labour plans, which are the major drivers of corporate social responsibility.

The results of the ActionAid SA survey indicate that there has been little trickle-down of community development as promised by the government and the industry.

 ActionAid released the results of the survey, the Social Audit Baseline Report, in Cape Town on Tuesday while mining companies were participating in the high-powered Mining Indaba nearby.

The survey was conducted in communities in Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

Of those interviewed 79% indicated that there was no benefit from the mines at all, while 8% felt that the mine only brought negative benefits such as sickness, dispossession and damages.  Only 13% felt there were positive benefits such as clinics, roads and employment.

“The findings from the report has broadly confirmed our initial hypothesis that mining-affected communities are disproportionately negatively affected by mining, not only because of their proximity to the mines, but also because of the political, economic and social structural impediments they face in holding corporations and state parties to account,” the executive summary of the report reads.

The power of communities to decide on their wellbeing, governance and developmental paths  have been stripped away, the report found.

Three core themes about the challenges faced by communities affected by mines emerged from the survey: environmental issues such as air, land and water pollution  that affect human and livestock health, soil and water quality; living in an unsafe environment, relating to blasting close to houses and the tremors experienced  due to blasting; and the threat to health ranging from TB and HIV to skin rashes and infections, asthma, silicosis and chest and lung problems.

 Asked about what they would want to change in the relationship between the mine and the community, 39% of respondents wanted more employment, skills development and livelihood options; 35% wanted more accountability, consultation and communication by the mine; 20% wanted more basic services and infrastructure; and 6% wanted some form of compensation.

The summary  reads that the outcomes of this portion of the survey suggest  that “the communities surveyed have consistently preferred outcomes that allow them to develop and act on their own agency through either gainful employment or through access to other livelihood options”.

 Of the value reported among the listed JSE mining corporates  from 2009 to June 2018, the government  received about 24%, employees 47% and shareholders 29%,  it is estimated in reports by PwC (which do not factor in any potential misinvoicing and illicit financial flows). Community investments only amounted to 0.9%.

“But none of the value from these community investments are experienced in the lived realities of communities who participated in this survey. Up to 79% of respondents, those to whom these benefits are meant to accrue, have not participated in or benefited from the claimed investments.

“By our calculations, this implies that close to R5.92bn of the estimated R7.5bn earmarked for community development did not reach its intended beneficiaries during this period,” ActionAid said. 

“The extent and scale of the potential misappropriation of funds meant for community development implies both that high levels of corruption exist in the way that funds are allocated to community development and that besides the potential corruption inherent in the way funds are distributed, that the projects meant to advance community development are not trickling down to communities in the way envisaged by the corporations and the department of mineral resources.”

ensorl@businesslive.co.za