Time to engage with communities on Wild Coast road project is long overdue

Transport minister’s statements further widens gap between government and local communities.

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27/10/2020 14:33:23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Time to engage with communities on Wild Coast road project is long overdue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) notes with considerable disappointment the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula’s response to protest by the Amadiba Coastal Residents against SANRAL’s routing of the new N2 through the Amadiba Traditional Authority, situated close to the Xolobeni Mineral Sands. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Minister Mbalula dismissed protesters who interrupted his handover of the new access road to the Sigidi village, adjacent to the proposed mining area, as “people with hidden agendas” who are trying to “stop development”. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                “We are astonished that after all that has happened to create a chasm between SANRAL and citizens over the past decade, Minister Mbalula has chosen to interpret the peaceful and constructive efforts by the Amadiba Crisis Committee as ‘promoting anarchy’,” says Wayne Duvenage, CEO of OUTA. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                “We recognize that infrastructure projects are important, but SANRAL and Minister Mbalula are not going to address the problem of underdevelopment and years of neglect of the rural poor by imposing plans without a serious commitment to the values and principles contained in Section 195 of the Constitution, which oblige all organs of state to act fairly, equitably and without bias, and to be transparent and accountable in decision making.  Ministers of State are never going to bridge the vast chasm of distrust that a decade of State Capture has opened up between Government and its citizens by misrepresenting the interests of the very people that they are supposed to serve.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Amadiba coastal residents, having successfully won a High Court declaratory order which effectively says “nothing about us, without us” simply seek to have the not-so-hidden agendas of the Australian mining company MRC and their local partners to be repudiated. All SANRAL needs to do to overcome this long-standing impasse, is to hear the local community’s reasonable request to reroute the alignment of the new road further inland. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                “The Amadiba community have over the past decade and more, seen a number of Transport Ministers come and go, all of whom appear to be listening intently to the interests of SANRAL and the Mining company, instead of meaningfully engaging with the local community to seriously hear the history and reasons behind this conflict and the impasse.  This issue will not disappear simply because he says the development will not be stopped.  It appears that Minister Mbalula’s inability to engage with the significant dissent of the community will merely add more fuel to the fire,” says Duvenage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                A soundclip with comment by Wayne Duvenage, OUTA CEO, is here

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Picture: Shutterstock

                                                                                                                                                                                                                OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.