27 July 2018
The South African Water Caucus (SAWC) is a network of more than 20 community-based organisations and non-government organisations active in promoting the wise, equitable and just use, protection and provision of water.
The SAWC fully endorses the legal challenges launched by the coalition of civil society organisations to set aside the approvals for the large coal mine proposed by Atha-Africa Ventures Pty Ltd outside Wakkerstroom in Mpumalanga.
The coal mine would be situated inside a Strategic Water Source Area, a National Freshwater Ecosystem Priority Area and a declared protected area. This area is important to the water security of the region and the country, as well as for South Africa's obligations to its neighbouring countries. The mine would pollute this important area for decades to come, long after this mining company has come and gone. The approvals given for this mine appears to be the result of political expediency, and not in the interest of the long-term protection of water resources.
As the SAWC, we know that water is essential for economic development, and for shifting people out of poverty. Sacrificing a strategic water resource and saddling local communities and the state with the costs of dewatering and water pollution in the interest of one mining company, are not in the interest of economic transformation.
The SAWC also condemns the threats to and attacks by Atha-Africa and associated individuals against the civil society organisations who are exercising their Constitutional rights to speak freely, to criticise, and to use their rights under national laws to challenge a proposed coal mine. Those who disagree with the legal challenges have their own legal remedies under the law, and they should make use of those remedies. For these reasons, we regard the attacks on our fellow civil society organisations as an attack on democracy, and we will vigorously oppose such conduct.
For more information about this case, read CER's fact sheet here: https://cer.org.za/news/new-fact-sheet-proposed-mpumalanga-coal-mine-who-benefits-and-at-what-cost
Read the GroundUp / Daily Maverick coverage of the case here: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-07-24-coal-mine-opponents-targeted-on-social-media/