27th October 2006
Uder the title "African tribe wins rights to diamond-rich land" in October 2003 we reprinted an article from the London "Guardian" announcing a unique event. A South African tribal community, robbed of its land in the 19th century had won a court battle to regain land and mineral rights to diamonds potentially worth billions of pounds.
The Nama community in Richtersveld are former goat herders , many of whom still live in tin shacks without electricity. Although Johannesburg's constitutional court ruled that the Nama were thrown off their land under racist laws and had a legitimate claim to ownership, the post-apartheid government strenuously resisted surrendering the concessions operated by state-owned Alexkor. Disgracefully, the company itself had argued that the Nama were too uncivilised to own land, while the ANC government claimed that "the greater good was served by sharing the diamond wealth with the nation." (The Guardian, October 13 2006). http://www.minesandcommunities.org/Action/press194.htm
Now, three years later, the community seems to have succeded, with an out of court settlement.. Of course there are other communities still fighting for recognition of its fundamental land rights eslewhere in South Africa. Will they have to wait as long before justice is served?.
The consequences of World Bank-structured privatisation are being felt in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. The government welcomes foregig investment, claiming it's unable itself to organise the mining industry. And you don't need to ask what the companies think.
But, what of future prospects for the numerous smallscale miners? The government says it doesn't want to wipe out their occupations, and is urging the companies to absorb them into their workforces. However, already two private companies are close to having their contracts annulled because they haven't kept to the rules
Last week we reported the ground-breaking decision by a judge in the DRCongo that former executives of the Anvil Mining company should be tried for "war crimes".
According to two NGOs great pressure is now being applied from within the DRCongo government to intimidate the judge. Readers are asked to support an appeal to ensure that - once again - "justice is served"