South Africa, The Natural Resource Hotspot, is Delving into an Existential Crisis as New Court Ruling Brings out Deep Divisions about the Future of Mining

A recent landmark Judgment by Pretorian High Court which requires full consent of local people for any mining project has raised eyebrows from the government as well as the mining industry. The South African Government wants to appeal to certain elements the ruling. According to government, if the judgment is executed in full scope, there would no mining industry left in South Africa. The minister of mineral resources Gwede Mantashe has warned of impending chaos if the judgment is executed.

The judgment has jeopardized Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act which makes the South African state the complete, sole custodian of the country’s natural resources. If the full and informed consent is carried out as directed by the court ruling, no mining project would be possible.

The tussle between mining companies and indigenous tribes has intensified as indigenous inhabitants are trying to preserve traditional ways of subsistence farming, foraging and the country’s natural environment.

There are also problems about gaining unanimous consent on any project. The xolobeni community which has around 10000 members is deeply divided about the future of mining projects in the area, with reports of violent conflicts between the pro and anti-project factions. Amadiba Crisis Committee which represents five villages against mining companies, has been at a receiving end of assassinations of its activists working for the cause. Amadiba leader Sikhosiphi Rhadebe was recently shot dead in front of his teenage son making it one the most high profile assassination.

The indigenous people see a heinous nexus between the political class and mining corporations. As the distrust in local folks along with a feeling of exclusion from the development process has aggravated, the court ruling came as relief for many looking for justice from the state.