How impoverished Kanana villagers are overlooked by Implats over business opportunities – The Citizen
Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) owned 16 Shaft, may be a towering mining operation above the hills of the northwestern village of Kanana, but for impoverished locals it means misery – not seen as the real mainstay empowerment, in accordance with the provisions of the Mining Charter.
Spending a few minutes at the ‘supplier door’ with the executive members of the Kanana Business Forum (KBF), next to Implat’s multibillion rand flagship tree, gives you insight into why KBF members are seething with anger, with opportunities lost before their eyes.
From engineering companies to meat suppliers, The citizen saw several commercial vehicles registered in Gauteng, Free State and Limpopo, go through the gate to deliver goods to the well, without a single local company being seen.
Despite his frustration, KBF President Sam Nong said he had yet to throw in the towel in the fight to achieve true empowerment of local businesses.
Nong spoke about how far the FRB has come with Implats.
Nong: “At the level of the Mining Charter, nothing has been done.
“No charter objective has been reached, having had the same problem with the mining charter 3.
“We are classified as the locals of the locals – supposed to have the first preference, but nothing really happens.
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“The only time you will hear of a local company benefiting is when one of the senior managers of the mine owns shares in that company or is friends with the shareholders of the preferred bidder.
“Or they could be handpicked to partner with a well-established white-owned business.
“They become a BEE (black economic empowerment) partner – receiving salaries, without knowing anything about their shareholders and their equity – not part of the official documentation.
“It’s a really serious problem.
“We have exhausted all other avenues, including writing to the Mineral Resources Portfolio Committee in Parliament, the CEO, the Minister and the Vice President, but nothing has been done.
“We even wrote to former Implats board member Sidney Mufamadi, but nothing was done.
“We are dealing with a big giant, with the general management saying that we are dealing with a big elephant, which takes time to turn around.
“It’s an Afrikaner institution that doesn’t crack easily, but we are ready to go all the way.”
In a memorandum that KBF handed to the regional offices of the Department of Mineral Resources last November, it requested the immediate suspension of the 16 Shaft license to operate in Kanana.
READ ALSO: Implats under investigation for alleged violations of the Mining Charter
Read part of the memorandum: “We submit this memorandum in full awareness of the politically toxic virus, a virus that has become a government tradition – of accepting community memoranda and providing sick answers.
“We are aware that most of the requests contained in the memoranda submitted by communities affected by mining in our country have not been answered, but instead police violence and the arrest of members of the community were the only answer.
“We are submitting this memorandum to the Greater Kanana Business Forum, fully aware that it could be ignored by a government that still claims to be democratic.
“We are aware that neither the Chamber of Mines, the Minister of Mineral Resources, the Office of the President or the Planning Commission, will ever respect the demands of communities affected by mining, as has always been the case.
The memorandum also called for:
- Implats will provide copies of social plans and work from the start of 16 Shaft to date.
- Dissolution of the bureaucratic forum of the sellers committee, which made it difficult for local SMEs (small medium and micro enterprises) to seize opportunities.
- Provision of a list of all service providers currently contracted by the mine.
- Co-opting of local companies in underground mining, for a transfer of skills.
- Management staff reshuffle – in particular Manie Prinsloo who is racist and lacks frontline qualities.
Despite several commitments with the top management of Implats, nothing positive has been achieved.
Nong said, “The well was supposed to benefit us, but it brought negative elements to our community, such as a high rate of teenage pregnancies, as young women would be easily tempted to fall in love with minors here, so that ‘they can provide for their families.
“Despite our commitment to senior management, what has made this problem worse is our community leadership.
“We are part of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, which is part of the problem, as Impala finds solace in dealing with the leaders – who are supposed to represent us here, pushing the community development agenda forward – but it never happens.
“They have now become businessmen, being offered opportunities in most cases.
“The mining management prefers to talk to the leaders. We decided to lead this initiative because the people who were supposed to lead let us down.
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“This well started around 2005, when they spent 7.6 billion rand on the development of the well.
“When we asked, of the 7.6 billion rand, how many local businesses benefited from this budget, the answer was zero.
“We spoke to William Mdluli, the Surface Engineer, about the number of engineering companies in his database.
“He said he didn’t know us and that we had to start a new relationship. He had over 200 companies in his database.
“Mdluli confidently said there were over 200 companies doing business with Impala on a daily basis.
“You just watched this guy go by with a pickup truck, he’s a Free State vendor.
“It’s like watching a horror movie. Just sit here and watch for five minutes to see what we’re talking about.
Implats has refuted the allegations of racism in its purchasing processes and has chosen to open an internal investigation into the allegations of lack of transformation.