COSATU statement on the government’s indifferent attitude regarding the acid mine water crisis

COSATU is shocked by the failure of both the Department of Mineral Resources and Water and Sanitation and Environmental Affairs to present any coherent plans to deal with acid mine water crisis in their respective budget votes.

The Mining houses have been polluting water supplies in Gauteng and surrounding areas for a long time with very little intervention from the government.  This ticking time bomb does not only threaten scarce water resources in Gauteng and North West but it is also putting the livelihoods of millions of South Africans in danger.  In fact, more than a quarter of South Africans may now be at risk because of acid mine water.

To date, the DMR has shown no willingness to hold these mining houses to account. We have repeatedly called on them to intervene to stop such polluting practises, including withdrawing the mineral rights of offending companies’ mineral rights. The DMR is compelled by law to fine and prosecute these companies under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.  We are curious to know what exactly are the DMR’s inspectors doing?

The Department of Water and Sanitation is obliged by the Constitution to protect the nation’s water resources, yet it has done nothing in this regard.

The Department of Environmental Affairs is obliged by the National Environmental Management Act to intervene in such criminal acts.  Again it has abandoned its duty to do so.

The federation expects these three departments to wake up from the deep slumber and start to abide by the very laws they drafted by enforcing them.  Offending mining houses must be held to account.

Equally, COSATU expects those pontificating business leaders, who preach all sorts of good values to all who will listen to lead by example and clean up their mess.

If government and business fail to act on this matter, we shall mobilize communities and civil society to force the government to do the right thing.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794