Pat Ngomane: Mpumalanga will unite after conference

Uthaka Energy not allowed to mine coal in Mabola 013News, 26 Mar 2021 (Business only, use see WhatsApp The company is a South African subsidiary of India-based mining and minerals company Atha Group. Yet another turn in what is already a six-year legal battle, Uthaka Energy (Pty) Ltd, acoal-mining company, has been interdicted by the Tshwane High Court from mining in one of South Africa’s critical water source areas. A coalition of civil society organisations brought the urgent interdict application against Uthaka Energy (formerly known as Atha-Africa Ventures), a local subsidiary of India-based mining and minerals company Atha Group, which had planned to start operations at its Yzermyn underground coal mine at Mabola, Mpumalanga, this week. The proposed mine lies within a Strategic Water Source Area in the grasslands and wetlands of the Wakkerstroom area, one of only 22 areas that together produce more than half of South Africa’s freshwater requirements. Until January this year, the proposed mining area was also included within the Mabola Protected Environment, a protected area declared under the Protected Areas Act in 2014. Any mining within a formally protected area requires the joint permission of two cabinet ministers: the Minister of the Environment, Forestry & Fisheries and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. However, after several flip-flops, Mpumalanga environment MEC Vusi Shongwe in January this year revoked the protected area status of Mabola, effectively allowing the proposed coal mine to proceed without the joint ministerial permissions. The coalition has been working since 2015 to block the proposed mine, and to undo various approvals and permits already obtained by the mine. It has five court challenges pending and has announced that it will shortly bring a sixth – against Shongwe’s change of protected status of Mabola. On 5 March 2021, after Uthaka Energy had given notice of its intention to start mining (as required in terms of an earlier court ruling), the coalition brought the urgent interdict application in which it asked the court to block any mining until all its other legal challenges had been adjudicated. In a founding affidavit by coalition member Nkwane Thobejane of the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa, the coalition argued that starting mining operations at Yzermyn would cause “irreparable harm to the wetlands, grasslands and other aspects of the environment”. “It would also cause irreparable harm to the occupiers of the affected homestead and subsistence farmers… The applicants are justified in seeking an urgent interdict to prevent harm to this highly sensitive area of environmental importance from materialising.” In an answering affidavit, Uthaka Energy senior vice-president Praveer Tripathi argued that the mine had been authorised by all the relevant authorities and was at a stage where mining could lawfully start – “despite the barrage of litigation by the Applicants [the coalition] in which they sought for the past decade to delay and derail this development completely”. Tripathi said the mine met all the requirements for a sustainable development “as contemplated by the Constitution”. However, the court ruled in favour of the coalition and issued an order interdicting Uthaka Energy from conducting any mining activities and mining-related operations, other than the survey pegging of the surface infrastructure boundary of the mine and pegging to demarcate wetlands in terms of its approved plan. The interdict will remain in force until the final determination of a series of reviews and appeals being brought by the coalition that include full judicial review applications of the mine’s water use licences, its mining right and of its environmental authorisation. In a statement after the interdict was granted, the coalition said it was “relieved that the court has granted a reprieve to allow proper judicial assessment of the legal proceedings underway before the environmental harm is caused”. The coalition members are the Mining and Environmental Justice Communities Network of South Africa, groundWork, BirdLife South Africa, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD) and the Bench Marks Foundation, and they are represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights. GroundUp -
LOBBYIST: Axed finance MEC Pat Ngomane says lobbying for their different slates continues as the party steams ahead toward its much awaited provincial conference. PICTURE BY 013NEWS/MLM

He says lobby groups are permitted in the ANC ahead of conferences.

Former Mpumalanga finance MEC Pat Ngomane has said the ANC in Mpumalanga will unite once the much-awaited 13th elective conference is convened.

He said it always happened as part of the ANC’s culture that comrades differed on the people they preferred for leadership positions ahead of congresses but that didn’t mean they were “enemies”.

Ngomane is part of the Ngci lobby group that is supported by deputy president DD Mabuza and which wants him for the post of ANC provincial secretary and Nkangala district municipal speaker Lucky Ndinisa as provincial chairman.

The faction previously supported Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane for the position of chair but is now no longer with her after she asked to be excused from the team for “personal reasons”.

Mtshweni-Tsipane is now running her own camp, called RMT21, which is supported by leaders in her government like safety and security MEC Vusi Shongwe, acting director-general Peter Nyoni, health MEC Sasekani Manzini and corporative governance MEC Busi Shiba who all eye positions in Mtshweni-Tsipane’s RMT21 camp.


“Those that we are contesting the same positions with are not our enemies, they are our comrades and myself I speak to all of them. There is no beef amongst us, we just don’t agree on the leadership preferences,” Ngomane told comrades while campaigning at the Osizweni Combined School in Lesley, Govan Mbeki the past weekend.

Pat Ngomane: Mpumalanga will unite after conference
Comrades from Ngci camp gathered in Lesley

Ngomane said the major task awaiting comrades is the unity of the ANC after conference.

He said the current lobby groups in Mpumalanga will “dissolve” once the 13th congress has elected the new leadership and “whoever that will remain a lobby group is a factionalist”.

“The task of the leadership that will be elected will be to unite Mpumalanga so that going to the national conference in 2022 we speak with one voice as a province,” he said.

The gathering was also addressed by David ‘Mdavu’ Nhlabathi, one of Mabuza’s aides in Gert Sibande, and who ripped into those “putting Mabuza’s name in provincial matters.

Nhlabathi dismissed suggestions Mabuza was behind any lobby group and said those who said so simply wanted “popularity” by dragging the national leader’s name into their regional squabbles.

(edited by NNT)

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