Graham Bigg, Patrice Motsepe and Susan Shabangu during a media briefing at Harmony Gold Mine on February 6, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
JOHANNESBURG - Some 300 people from Maandagshoek in Limpopo marched to Patrice Motsepe’s Johannesburg office on Friday to deliver a letter of their grievances. Motsepe is the head of mining group, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM), which has operations in Maaandaghoek.
The crowd claimed there is no meaningful development in Maandagshoek and accused several officials associated with ARM of tender irregularities.
“We are aware that the directors of ARM namely Frank Nkoana and Benny Boshielo have sold community companies to their friends. Tenders have to be advertised to the community and companies that are allocated contracts must partner with local businesses on a 50-50 basis," said Aubrey Moela, one of the leaders involved in Friday’s march.
"Maandgashoek is being left out in terms of meaningful development and this has to be resolved urgently,” he added.
Marchers demanded that Motsepe provide them with a copy of ARM’s supply chain policy and remove several officials accused of corruption.
“We demand the removal of Boshielo, Nkoana, Phineas Makua and Kgoetiane from office as they perpetuate the situation. We also want to Motsepe to stop prospecting process on Modikwa mine immediately because the community was not consulted on this matter,” said Moela.
Moela said should ARM fail to respond to their demands within 30 days, the community would march to the office of minerals and energy department in a bid to force the department to revoke ARM’s mining license.
“ARM is making a lot of money but they are not doing anything for the community. Its time they change their approach or they must leave our area,” he said.
When contacted for a response to today&39;s march, ARM told eNCA.com that "the company is committed to the development and empowerment of our people, including those living in the villages neighbouring Modikwa Mine as well as within the broader Sekhukhune area."
"We are committed to ensuring that these communities participate and benefit from the mine whether through procurement, tenders, recruitment, employment at all levels of the company and the transfer of skills to local people," the company statement read.
ARM went on to say that the communities living near Maandagshoek own 17% of ARM Mining Consortium as part of ARM’s broader commitment to enable them to benefit from the operation and growth of the mine.
ARM highlighted a number of development and empowerment projects and initiatives over the last 14 years which include:
• Creation of jobs (directly and indirectly) through employment by the mine and community projects: Approximately 70% of Modikwa workforce is from the local community
• Empowering the communities through skills development, education and procurement opportunities.
• Poverty alleviation through agricultural projects and the construction of the community projects such as a bakery and sewing project.
• Creation of local entrepreneurs through our procurement process, which has already created very successful local businesses.
• Infrastructure provision such as roads, schools and health facilities.
African Rainbow Minerals went on to say it "recognises there will always be more that the community expects us to do. The area has approximately 80 000 people and an 80% unemployment rate, so there will continue to be challenges in ensuring the upliftment of our people living in these communities."
ARM confirmed it has received the memorandum adding it would investigate the contents and "engage with the communities through the structures in place."