South African complaint for Australia’s ECA
A community in South Africa has lodged a complaint with Australia’s Export Credit Agency (Efic), demanding the government organisation refuse a proposal to fund a new coal mine in South Africa.
The complaint alleges that Resgen, the Australian mining corporation who has applied for the Efic funding, is violating the human rights of community members living near the proposed mine site. It states that the corporation has threatened to displace community members, has broken commitments to provide essential services to impacted communities, and has refused community members’ access to a local cemetery.
The complaint has been lodged by Francina Nkosi, a local activist from the South African town closest to where the mine will be built, who says Efic must not provide funding to a project that is already violating the community’s rights.
The complaint states:
“Since starting their project, Resgen and their contractors have violated our rights and not listened to the local community.
“In 2012 [the community] agreed to lease their land to Resgen for a railway, to be built by contractor Protech Khuthele, on the condition that the company would provide services to the community, such as a school, sanitation, water, and electricity.
“However the community still lacks these services… There is still no electricity or sanitation, and the community has to use pit toilets.”
Nkosi’s complaint also accuses Resgen of fencing off the community cemetery in a local town, Fanpan, without notice. Nkosi’s letter says Resgen have refused community members permission to visit family graveyards and have told the community that only 5 more people could be buried at the site. Nkosi has provided Efic with detailed evidence of the mine’s impact on the community to date, including photographs and transcripts of interviews with community members.
“Community members have to get advance approval from Resgen and the guard to bury anyone [at the community cemetery] or even to visit a gravesite of a family member. Last year Resgen refused permission to a [family] who wanted to bury their relative at the cemetery. The community had to go to the local police, and only when the police intervened did Resgen allow the burial.”
ActionAid Australia has been working in support of Nkosi’s community, and standing behind South African women activists campaigning against mining in South Africa. ActionAid Australia is calling on Efic to reject funding for the mine, and has collected over 12,000 signatures of Australians who have joined the call.
Head of Campaigns at ActionAid Australia, Lucy Manne, said:
“The Australian Government has committed time and again to putting women at the heart of its aid and foreign policy and has, time and again, failed to keep that commitment. Efic is now considering funding a fossil fuel project that threatens the human rights of South African women, showing they are quite willing to sacrifice women’s rights.
“This proposal has forced South African women activists onto the frontlines of the very worst of Australian politics. Australians must stand with South African women and demand our Government reject funding for this coal mine and start taking women’s rights seriously.
“Efic must not ignore the concerns being raised by community members. Given the history of human rights abuses committed by the coal industry in South Africa, Efic should immediately rule this project out.”