'Mantashe can't bulldoze people'

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe says strip mining will provide jobs and development.
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe says strip mining will provide jobs and development.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The DA has accused resources minister Gwede Mantashe of trying to bulldoze the community of Xolobeni in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape, into agreeing to a titanium mine.

This is after Mantashe's visit to the area turned violent on Wednesday when police fired stun grenades to disperse angry community members.

"There must be broader participation and there must be consensus with the community. We can't allow ministers like Mantashe to bulldoze our people," DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga said.

Bhanga said he was planning to visit Bizana to engage with the community together with party parliamentary chief whip John Steenhuisen.

Bhanga lambasted Mantashe, saying the government was trying to use the same measures by the apartheid government of forceful removal.

"Government is trying to dictate to people. Government is trying to expropriate and bulldoze people out of that land."

Community members are against the issuing of a titanium mining licence to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM).

The community has been at loggerheads with government waging a 15-year battle, led by the Amadiba Crisis Committee, against the issuing of a licence to strip mine the red coastal dunes at Xolobeni.

Mantashe, however, has argued that the area desperately needed the jobs and development a mine would bring.

Last week, agrarian and food doctoral researcher Andrew Bennie wrote in the Daily Maverick that no research or evidence existed to show that the mine would create jobs and development.

He said the existing research showed that "mining will not bring more benefits to those living in Amadiba than other options such as supporting local tourism, agriculture and ecological protection".

Bennie said his empirical research showed that agricultural production had expanded and informal sales of sweet potatoes and madumbes was earning farmers in the Sigidi area alone about R4.5m a year.

In November, the high court in Pretoria ruled that the minister may not grant mining rights without the consent of the community and people directly affected by that mining right. Mantashe is appealing against the ruling.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo City Metro, Bhanga said the DA was counting on factional battles of the ANC to secure a vote of no confidence against mayor Xolo Phakati when it tables its motion at the next council meeting on Friday.


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