To communities out there engaging with mining corporations who are eyeing your land and resources, Chris and I have been discussing our many years of field work. Note the following:
1) Mining companies tend to arrange meetings during the week when the men, who are migrant workers are away at work, or looking for work in Johannesburg. They therefore meet with vulnerable and desperate old people, the women and children and often take decisions without men being present or participating.
2) They use the attendance register as evidence of consultation, and the signatures on the attendance register become binding contracts through which the community lose their ancestral homes, land and livestock to the mining operation. This represents a breech of your constitutional right to administrative justice.
Therefore it is imperative that you refuse to sign the attendance register and insist on only signing an agreement after a process of free, prior and informed consent in which you also had the right to refuse the operation. Your refusal to sign an attendance register often results in the mining corporation calling the police. In such an instance take a picture of the police, get their ranks and names as their presence means that the mining company attempted to get you to sign the attendance register under duress. remember that you have a constitutional right to privacy and you cannot be forced to append your name to any piece of paper that will violate your rights.
The mines use the attendance registers as “evidence” that they consulted. However, often mines outsource this unpleasant and difficult tasks to consultants who make all kinds of outrageous promises of the wonderful things the mine will bring to the community. When the mine is operational and the community reminds it of the promises made during the consultation process, the mine denies that it made any promises and refers the community back to the consultants. There are no signed contracts, the minutes only reflect issues raised by the community and there is usually never any record of the extravagant promises made, leaving the community with nothing to fall back on.
It is therefore imperative that communities refuse that consultants do the community consultations and insist to negotiate directly with the mining corporation involved.
The entire process of consultation as presently constituted represents a form of “innocent fraud.”