Affected communities have little say in proposed mining amendment bill
Coalition says Gauteng hearings show public participation process is fatally flawed, as is the law’s substance, write Michael Clements and Christopher Rutledge
In early March, Gauteng held hearings on proposed amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA). This is the latest step in a procedurally flawed process — now in its fourth year — to formalise these amendments into law. In what is a hallmark of this legislative process, as well as the substance of the act and its amendments, the voice and consideration of mining-affected communities were almost entirely absent from the hearing. This is troubling, given that these are the people who bear the brunt of the health, environmental and socioeconomic impact of mining. President Jacob Zuma sent the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill back to Parliament in 2013, citing constitutional concerns. Parliament either rejected or tackled all but one of these issues: that the public-participation process preceding the bill was insufficient. In January, the Department of Mineral Resources — without consulting affected communities — then proposed an a...