Statement to Anglo American AGMPublished by MAC on 2007-04-15
Statement to Anglo American AGM
by Richard Spoor
17th April 2007:
"Mr Chairman, it was gratifying to note [Anglo American CEO] Cynthia Carroll's stated commitment to improve the corporation's relations with stakeholders and in particular with communities where it is active.
My question relates to the pending removal of some 10 000 villagers by Anglo Platinum from their ancestral land to make way for the pit expansions currently underway at the Potgietersrust Platinum Mine in South Africa.
"There is a concern that the removals may be taking place without the full, free and informed consent of the community and that they are in fact akin to the forced removals that characterised the apartheid era.
The bases for concern are briefly as follows:
× The terms of relocation have been negotiated with the members of the so-called Section 21 Companies in their capacity as representatives of the community.
× The members of these structures were nominated in 1998 and have not made themselves subject to any election or to any democratic process for the last 9 years.
× Members of these structures have been paid by the mine since they were nominated. The structures are widely perceived as proxies of the mine.
× The mine also pays the legal "advisors" to the Section 21 Companies. These lawyers were also paid by the mine to set up and advise 15 other such structures in communities within the mining lease area.
× The relocation agreements concluded between the mine and the Section 21 Companies are prejudicial to the rights and interests of the community: inter alia they make no provision for compensation to be paid to the 400 or more peasant farmers who have lost their land to the mine.
× There has been significant resistance to the relocations, including mass meetings, marches and protests. Protests have been violently suppressed by police, dozens of villagers have been beaten and arrested at the mine's instance.
× The relocation agreement is not legally effective because certain suspensive conditions, notably the assent of the National Government to enter into certain leases, have not been met and may in fact not ever be met.
" Despite all these shortcomings and the absence of a legally enforceable agreement, the mine is putting huge pressure on the community to move:
× The communities' arable lands have been taken from them, even before the relocation has taken place, therefore farmers cannot plant crops and feed their families.
× Grazing land has been lost to the mine and animals go hungry.
× Mining takes place on a continuous basis in close proximity to the village causing dust, noise and traffic. When regular blasting takes place schools and homes must be evacuated.
× Considerable damage to property is cause by blasting. Recently a villager was injured by flying glass from a window that shattered during a blast.
× Unilateral efforts are continuing to relocate the 4 schools that support the community without consultation with parents or school governing bodies.
× Pressure is brought to bear on individual members of the community who are warned that they will be severely prejudiced if they do not cooperate with the relocation.
"Most troubling however is Anglo Platinum's persistent refusal to engage with community members opposed to the terms of relocation and the mine's efforts to relocate them.
Recently, both the affected villages held elections that were supervised by the Independent Electoral Commission and were monitored by provincial and local government. The elections were certified as free and fair and the outcome was found to be representative of the will of the community.
Yet Anglo Platinum still refuses to engage with the elected representatives of the community and insists upon dealing only with the undemocratic and unaccountable Section 21 Companies.
As we speak, there is a stand-off at a cemetery where the mine is attempting to exhume graves in the face of protest from many community members whose family members are buried there.
I have previously invited Sir Mark Moody-Stuart to visit platinum communities to see for himself the way in which indigenous communities are being treated by Anglo Platinum.
Sir Mark declined to do so but I was delighted when another of Anglo American's non-executive directors, Dr Ramphele, did agree and at their invitation visited communities around the Potgietersrust Platinum mine.
Anglo Platinum's persistent refusal to engage with its critics on the grounds that the directors of the Section 21 Companies are the only legitimate representatives of the community is, with respect, a monument to the company's capacity to engage in self-delusion.
" The conduct of Anglo Platinum is not consistent with the values that Anglo American PLC espouses.
I am anxious to know whether or not Anglo American is committed to not condoning the relocation of indigenous communities without their full, free and informed consent.
Secondly, to be advised whether or not Anglo American will respect democratic conventions and engage with all stakeholders in the community, whether they are opposed to the subsidiary's activities or not.
Both Sir Mark and Mr Havenstein responded. They acknowledged that there was a problem with the Section 21 Companies which had to be addressed in order to ensure that they were representative and accountable. They committed Anglo Platinum to engage with all stakeholders but did not commit to the principle of no relocations without full, free and informed consent of the communities concerned.
[Richard Spoor, 22 April 2007]