MAC: Mines and Communities

Hundreds of women demand a People-Centred Agenda for SADC

Published by MAC on 2014-08-21
Source: Statement (2014-08-19)

Hundreds of people from grassroots organizations, including small-scale farmers, rural women, farm workers and members of mining impacted communities from Southern African countries converged at the recent 2014 SADC Peoples Summit in Bulawayo.

The summit took place from 14 to 16 August 2014. Members of key regional alliances and movements - Via Campesina Africa, the Rural Women's Assembly (RWA), WoMin and the People's Dialogue - were strongly present in Bulawayo, to build alternatives and propose a regionalism that prioritizes people, not corporations.

Please find below the press release & statement on the extractive industries from that SADC people's summit.

Hundreds of women demand a People-Centred Agenda for SADC

Via Campesina, WoMin and Rural Women's Assembly (RWA) Press Release

18 August 2014

Bulawayo - Women and Mining (WoMin), Via Campesina Africa and Rural Women's Assembly (RWA) contributed to demands made to the SADC Head of States during the just ended SADC People's Summit held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe from the 15th to the 16th of August 2014.

The RWA, WoMin and Via Campesina delegates were part of the more than 2500 delegates drawn from grassroots movements, community and faith-based organizations, women's organizations, labor, student, youth, economic justice and human rights networks and other social movements.

The Peoples' Summit was convened under the leadership of the Southern Africa People's Solidarity Network (SAPSN) and Peoples Dialogue at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe under the theme ‘Reclaiming SADC for People's Development-SADC Resources for SADC People'. This political position responds to our shared analysis that the SADC development agenda is increasingly determined by corporate interests, which are privileged above the region's 260 million people.

Via Campesina and RWA met under the agriculture and food sovereignty cluster while WoMin met under the extractives and climate cluster, and developed their own statements, which were included in the communiqué submitted to the Heads of States.

The Mozambique Union of Farmers, member of La Via Campesina, met to speak about Pro-Sanna's role in land grabbing in Mozambique and asked for regional solidarity.

"Rural women in Africa are the main producers of food, yet their contribution remains invisible. They are the most marginalized in terms of access to land and secure tenure, natural resources, and political rights. Patriarchal relationships continue to prevail, making rural women vulnerable and subject to violence" read part of the RWA declaration.

The communiqué went on to demand that governments fulfil their commitment to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture following the Maputo declaration at African Union level. RWA and Via Campesina also demanded that governments include small-scale farmers in policy and decision making processes. Other demands included women's rights to land and security of tenure and protection of organic products, indigenous seeds and knowledge to ensure food and seed sovereignty.

WoMin's commission observed that the extractives industries have resulted in land dispossessions and degradation, water grabs, water and air pollution and also create deep social problems through displacements, increased HIV/AIDS levels, teenage pregnancies and hunger. Women carry the greatest burden of impact because of an unequal gender division of labour. The Commission demanded the overhaul of the legal system governing mining, labour and the environment to protect communities; safeguard land, air and eco-systems; and ensure that polluting corporates are held accountable.

Given the close relationship between fossil-fuel based energy systems, extractives and climate change, the Commission argued that a transition to renewable energy is critical to improve people's lives and safeguard the planet. Finally, this destructive model of extractivist development must be challenged from below - by affected communities and women in particular. A new people-centred development approach and supporting laws and policies is needed which promotes human well-being above profits.

In another commission organised by RWA and Forum Mulher focused on feminist movement building in SADC, participants agreed that women within SADC continue to suffer under patriarchy and discriminatory cultural practices. The majority of women are not free because they lack independent access to land, natural resources and finances, and spend many more hours than their male counterparts every day doing unpaid domestic and care work in their families and communities, work which is not recognized, valued or remunerated. In addition to the demands made above, women called for protection against gender-based violence, and for an end to sex trafficking and sexual harassment.

This year's summit coincided with the 2nd Anniversary of the Marikana Massacre in which 34 mineworkers, striking for a decent wage, were killed by the South African police. Members of the ruling party and the Lonmin Corporation were complicit in these murders. Michelle Pressend, working on a global campaign to dismantle corporate power, urged governments and peoples of the region to join hands and avoid the Marikana situation repeating itself in any other country. "We must stand and fight for justice in Marikana. The miners' blood is crying for justice' she added.

The Summit concluded with the traditional SADC Peoples´ march of more than 2000 delegates from the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds to the City Hall to hand over their demands to representatives of the Zimbabwean government for submission to the SADC Heads of State meeting.

Contacts for more Information

Mercia Andrews, RWA - phone: +27823683429 - email: mercia[at]tcoe.org.za
Elizabeth Mpofu, La Via Campesina - phone: +263772443716 - email: elizabeth.mpofu[at]viacampesina.org
Samantha Hargreaves, WoMin (gender and the extractives industries) - phone: +27 83 384 0088 -email: samyhargreaves[at]gmail.com

Resources:

Visit WoMin's website - http://womin.org.za/ - where you'll find our research collection and over 240 references related to women, gender and extractivism

Visit Via Campesina website - http://viacampesina.org


WOMIN/RURAL WOMEN'S ASSEMBLY/LA VIA CAMPESINA/PEOPLE'S DIALOGUE COMMISSION ON THE EXTRACTIVES INDUSTRIES

SAPSN People's Summit, Bulawayo

15 August 2014

The Commission observed that extractives industries have resulted in land dispossessions and degradation, water grabs, water and air pollution and also create deep social problems through displacements, increased HIV/Aids levels, teenage pregnancies and hunger. Women carry the greatest burden of impact because of an unequal gender division of labour. The Commission further noted that the legal system and policies do not protect communities, their land, and their right to be informed and give free prior informed and continuous consent to development projects on their lands and affecting their natural resources. In many of our countries governments are distant from and unaccountable to their people, as their interests are often too closely tied to capital and multinational corporations.

The way in which our governments think about development, on the advice of corporates, global financial institutions, and Northern and emerging economy governments, privileges growth and profits ahead of the interests of the majority of citizens in a decent livelihood, in jobs, in a clean environment, in basic public services, respect for cultural heritage and supportive social relations etc. Corporates have used the promise of jobs and corporate social responsibility to persuade communities to support mining applications, to divert the attention of communities from the negative social impacts, and to build false moral standing in the general public.

The Commission has recommended the following:

1. Overhaul of legal system governing mining, labour and environment to protect communities, safeguard the environment and ensure that polluting corporates are held accountable. At the level of SADC common guidelines should be established and translated into common law and policy where feasible. All law and policy should be comprehensible to all citizens, and access to the justice system for people in rural areas should be promoted, including through legal aid.

2. Curtail the powers of traditional leaders and ensure they are held accountable to their communities. They are manipulated by political parties, bought off by state salaries and collude with mining corporations to dispossess communities of their lands and natural resources.

3. Comprehensive agrarian reform, inscribed in law, which redistributes land, safeguards and protects community land rights, and guarantees public and private investment in agriculture. The model of agriculture to be supported is smallholder agro-ecology based which revives indigenous crops and promotes seed sovereignty for farmers. Women should be privileged in agrarian reform programmes, giving them access to and full control over land and natural resources.

4. Given the close relationship between fossil fuel based energy systems, extractives and climate change a transition to renewable energy is critical to improve people's lives and safeguard the planet.

5. The challenge to this destructive model of extractivist development must be driven from below - by affected communities and women in particular. The development approach and supporting laws and policies should promote human well-being above profits.

6. The licences of mining companies should be revoked, and no new licences should be issued, until land reform and community rights of consent are recognised and legally supported.

7. When communities decide that a development is in their best interests then the law and policy should provide for mandatory community benefit. Special provision is needed to make sure that women and other groups in communities share equally in these benefits.

8. When a community has given consent, law and policy should provide clear guidance on compensation, ensuring that affected families receive as a matter of priority land of the same extent and quality.

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