Bench Marks Foundation leads Alternative Mining Indaba

The Bench Marks Foundation was part of an Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town which happens on the sidelines of the industry gathering in the mother city. A declaration was drafted and reads thus:

Declaration distributed by the Bench Marks Foundation

We, members of Civil Society, having gathered at the 4th Alternative Mining Indaba (AMI) / in a Peoples’ Indaba in Cape Town from 3rd to 5th February, 2013, comprising Faith Based Organisations, Pan-African Networks and Organisations, Trade Unions, Traditional Authorities/Leaders, Non Governmental Organisations and Community Based Organisations express our outrage at the Marikana tragedy because it could have been avoided if the company, trade unions and the government had acted responsibly;

We express our condolences and stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and survivors.

We follow and watch with great interest the proceeding of Marikana Commission of Enquiry and expect justice to be done and those responsible brought to account;

We also express our unwavering support and solidarity with all other people who are victims of economic, environmental and social injustices surrounding the mining deals that put profit before people throughout the world;

We note with concern that African governments are over-dependent on mining and foreign direct investment as the path to development at the expense of other people-centred alternatives;

We remain concerned with the deliberate and systematic marginalisation of poor communities and the people in the decision-making and general governance of mineral and other natural resources throughout the value chain;

The Peoples’ Indaba over the past few years have exposed the true costs of mining and its devastating impacts on health, environment, ecology, economy and social wellbeing of workers and communities, which has been ignored by the elites in our society;

We are encouraged by the African Mining Vision adopted by the African Heads of States and Governments as a step towards addressing the challenges identified by the Peoples Indaba since 2009. We remind them that mining and other extractives must serve to address Africa’s challenges and contribute to equitable and sustained economic and social development;

We re-iterate that the “Corporate Mining Indaba 2013” excludes the participation of the actual owners of the mineral resources that are the basis of their meeting and therefore fail woefully to address environmental degradation, deepening of poverty, slippages in the quality of life and concentrating instead on the reckless pursuit of profit at any cost throughout the continent and the world;

The three-day Alternative Mining Indaba 2013:

Deliberated the ongoing continental mining reform agenda represented by the Africa Mining Vision and its potential;

Debated and analysed government policies and programmes for redressing environmental impacts of mining activities as well as compensation issues for communities affected by mining activities;

Broadened our understanding of economic and financial policies that facilitate tax avoidance and evasion in the mining sector such as transfer pricing, opaque investment contracts and bilateral investment treaties; and

Shared experiences and justice and peace promoting strategies about the need for a new framework which puts people, environment and communities at the centre of development and not profits.

We now therefore:

1. Call on communities affected by mining to unite in national, regional and international coalitions and movements to fight for social and economic justice in the exploitation of mineral and other natural resources in their communities;

2. Demand ongoing and open negotiations and not “seasonal consultations” with the host communities by corporations and governments on the progress, impacts and declared resources extracted from their land;

3. Echo the sentiments of John Reggie UN Envoy of the company having the responsibility to respect the decision of the communities underpinned by concept of Free Prior Informed Consent, the state having the responsibility to protect and stand by community decision and the community to have a full access to duty bears remedy;

4. Call on African governments to effectively implement the Africa Mining Vision in a way that serves and addresses the needs of our countries;

5. Demand independent and meaningful Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, Strategic Impact Assessment, Health Risk Assessment, Social Impact Assessment, and Environmental Management Programmes;

6. Call on African government to work with the communities to pursue alternative development paths beyond mining; 7. Demand that our governments to show leadership and be more transparent and accountable with regards to protecting the mineral resources and human rights of their people;

8. Call on governments to hold mining companies accountable for externalizing cost, and to ensure that mining revenues are redistributed equitably;

9. Demand that corporations’ tax responsibilities be increased and not override their corporate social responsibility; 10. Demand that African states should fully exercise their sovereign rights to impose their desired tax regimes to enable them provide social services;

11. Demand for greater transparency and accountability laws, policies and systems in order to tackle secrecy, structures and investments that facilitate tax avoidance and evasion; and 12. Call upon African governments to strengthen their capacities to collect the rightful share of revenue from corporations.

We hereby avow our commitment to the above stated issues and pledge our on-going support on the same with unflinching resolve and adamance! We are also committed to working together with communities and other progressive forces to ensure that these demands are met.

Declared at the Alternative Mining Indaba held in Cape Town, South Africa in February 2013 with participants from: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Angola, Malawi, Mauritius and Democratic Republic of Congo. We were also joined in solidarity by participants from Burma, Peru, Canada, Norway, Belgium, United Kingdom and Sweden

Under the auspices of:

 Bench Marks Foundation, Economic Justice Network of FOCCISA Norwegian Church Aid IANRA (International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa)

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