Claiming the #Right2SayNo: WoMin in solidarity with Amadiba Crisis Committee & Xolobeni

ProtestAgainstXolobeniWoMin stands in solidarity with the Amadiba Crisis Committee who are taking the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to court over attempts to mine their land in Xolobeni on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. On April 23, 2018, the Amadiba will request the court to rule that the DMR cannot issue a mining license without the community’s consent. This is a landmark case, and if successful, it will set a precedent for other communities affected and threatened by mining in South Africa and across the African continent.

This court case is part of a larger “Right to say NO” campaign organized by mining-affected communities across Southern Africa. The “Right to Say NO”, of which WoMin is a part, is a campaign organized by communities who seek to be at the forefront of the decision-making process that determines the type of development that can take place on their land. It is a campaign based on the internationally accepted right of FPIC (free, prior, and informed consent) for communities threatened by proposed projects on their land – a right recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Consent is essential in the context of extractivist development activities – mining, mega infrastructure, mega dams, and industrial fisheries and agriculture – which destroy livelihoods, pollute air water and soil, cause ill health-social violence and instability, and undermine indigenous and traditional relations with nature. Working class and peasant women in Africa sit at the frontlines of the harm extractives projects cause, facing the double-burden of a gendered division of labour and unequal power to make decisions in the community. When land is taken it is women, the primary subsistence producers who are ignored and not compensated for their unrecognised informal land rights. When water is polluted women walk further and longer, often placed at physical risk, in search of clean drinking water for their families. And when children and other household members fall ill because of water and air pollution, it is women who nurse them as part of their unpaid care responsibilities.

Given the heavy burden that women carry, we believe it is critical that they are at the forefront of all decisions about development. Women in Xolobeni are playing a critical role in leading this fight for autonomy and sovereignty over lands and resources. “We… know who we are because of the land. We believe that once you have lost the land, you have lost your identity,” says community activist Nonhle Mbutuma, a founding member of the Amadiba Crisis Committee. “We also believe that it is our right to live in a healthy environment, an environment which is not harmful to us, that has clean air with no air pollution, no pollution of the land and no contamination of the water. To make all these things happen, we believe that women must be a part of decision making... If we do that, we are going to build a healthy nation.”

WoMin joins women and communities in Xolobeni and around the world who are claiming the #Right2SayNo to mining and determine whether a proposed development project, which will impact their lands, forests, waters, bodies and cultural heritage, should proceed.

For more about the Amadiba Crisis Committee and the court case, go on to the Amadiba Crisis Committee Facebook page and follow #Right2SayNo or @stopcorppower on Twitter.

Picture credit: Alternative Information and Development Centre.