Minerals and Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe
Photo by: Duane Daws
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is calling on the Minister of Minerals and Resources, Gwede Mantashe, to come clean on promises of funding to assist artisanal miners in the Namaqualand area.
This comes after diggers raised concerns that that funds intended to benefit small-mining projects would be misused by the failing ANC for political purposes ahead of the elections.
According to artisanal mining structures, there is no evidence of the R1 million that was reportedly already allocated for the establishment of cooperatives for artisanal miners. There has also been no further clarity around reports that the department would allocate an additional amount of R50 million to support the small-scale mining project.
Given that the failing ANC has largely neglected artisanal mining in the province since the industry was exposed six years ago by the Bontekoe tragedy, that saw 11 miners lose their lives, there is much skepticism as to whether the failing ANC’s sudden interest in developing artisanal mining is pure or purely for vote winning purposes.
The miners, whose future depends on the development of the artisanal mining sector, desperately want answers.
The DA has therefore submitted a letter to Minister Mantashe urgently requesting details of exactly when and how the money will be allocated, as well as who will be charged with managing these funds.
While the DA is pleased with the start of the process to regularise illegal mining activities in Namaqualand, that has recently seen the department issuing permits and De Beers putting up toilets for the diggers, much more needs to be done to harness the true economic benefits of the small-scale mining industry in the Northern Cape.
Diggers need start-up support as well as dedicated monitoring of the industry, to ensure that the right people, in particular, the impoverished people of Namaqualand itself, are reaping the rewards of their toil in the sun and that safety measures are in place to prevent any unnecessary loss of life.
Only change under a DA-led government will ensure that the job creating potential of the small-scale mining industry is optimally harnessed, so that the Northern Cape can once again become the hub of a booming diamond industry that adds value to the lives of all our citizens.
Issued by The DA