Lack of safety shoes causes ANC to pull the plug on illegal mining oversight

Issued by James Lorimer MP – DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources
09 Oct 2022 in News

The ANC yesterday cut short oversight by three portfolio committees which are investigating illegal mining. In what had been an unprecedented and welcome move, the committee had agreed to allow the DA to lead the oversight to three sites where suspicious mining activity has been occurring around Emalahleni. Sadly, that did not last beyond the second site when the ANC decided it had no stomach for visits that were not carefully arranged by the local Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) office.

Emalahleni has been the site of large-scale illegal mining which was left almost unchecked until earlier this year. ANC committee members were clearly made uncomfortable by indications that the DMRE and police have not been doing their job.

They called off the oversight saying they were not prepared to go to places where their safety may be at risk, where they did not have the proper safety shoes and four-wheel drive vehicles and where the minerals rights owners and the department were not forewarned. Their decision was backed by EFF and African Independent Congress (AIC) members.

The DA believes that in order to be effective, oversights should include surprise visits. Otherwise oversight will become, as it so often is, a Potemkin village, where MPs only see carefully curated situations and remain ignorant of reality.

This is particularly true in Mpumalanga where the Emalahleni office of the DMRE has had constant problems with corruption and where illegal coal mining is rife.

The unwillingness of the ANC to investigate this problem is a worrying indication that it sees the problem as purely one caused by foreigners and derelict and ownerless mines. That is a view that exonerates crooked officials, corrupt cops and home-grown mafias. It is also a view that excuses a calamitous ANC failure of governance.

A lack of safety shoes should not be used as a convenient means of avoiding the issue of state corruption and mismanagement and enable a final report that focuses only on foreigners and unrehabilitated mines.