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If I can be a bit self indulgent, this week is a very big week for me, because of a big contest that takes place. No, not the contest between the RWC clash between the Boks and the USA on Wednesday but the contest between Sanral CEO Nazir Alli and Sinegugu Zukulu that takes place in the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Moeletsi Mbeki believes that the unemployed masses of South Africa are more vulnerable than other African countries because “we don’t have the cushion of peasant agriculture like other regional economies”. Well, the Amadiba community on the Pondoland Wild Coast does, but that cushion will inevitably be lost if the Executive Chair of MRC Ltd Mark Caruso’s ambition to turn the Xolobeni Mineral Sands into his “company maker” is realised. Behind the recent conflict between pro and anti-mining groupings lies a long term strategy to ‘tame’ the Wild Coast to the crude other-worldly logic of commercial fundamentalism. The mine would only last 25 years before the Perth mining entrepreneur moves on to plunder the next available mineral resource in the name of "development", while the Amadiba will be left with a “hole in the ground, owned by an optimist, operated by a fool and inevitably followed by a lawsuit”, to paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous definition of a mine.

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the future of e-tolls is long overdue. Sanral has suspended its bond auctions, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has delivered her budget speech and Vusi Mona’s media statements are showing signs of desperation. OUTA, along with the unions, church and business organisations and millions of motorists, have demonstrated active citizenship to hold government accountable on the e-toll fiasco, and now patiently awaits Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the way forward.
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While the bronze image of Cecil John Rhodes was being removed last week from the steps of the University of Cape Town, his ghost still hovered ominously over the mineral rich dunes of the Pondoland Wild Coast. For the third time since 2007, the Perth-based mining entrepreneur Mark Caruso is trying to secure mining rights for his venture capital company MRC Ltd, via his South African subsidiary Transworld Energy Mineral Resources (Pty) Ltd. They face formidable opposition organised by the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which came into existence eight years ago when TEM/MRC made their first attempt to obtain mining rights in 2007. This was ultimately defeated after a long and arduous six-year struggle.

About John GI Clarke

John Clarke hopes to write the wrongs of the world, informed by his experience as a social worker and theologian, to actualise fundamental human rights and satisfy fundamental human needs.  He has lived in the urbanised concentration of Johannesburg, but has worked mainly in the rural reaches of the Wild Coast for the past decade.  From having paid a fortune in toll fees he believes he has earned the right to be critical of Sanral and other extractive institutions, and has not held back while supporting Sustaining the Wild Coast (www.swc.org.za), the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (www.safcei.org.za) and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (www.outa.co.za), in various ways.

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