AN angry rural community in Limpopo is threatening to dump EFF, accusing the party of involvement in illegal mining and of interfering in its internal affairs.
In a letter sent to EFF Limpopo secretary Jossey Buthane in September, which African Times has seen, residents of Ga-Mphahlele outside Polokwane accused Julius Malema’s party of promoting illegal mining in their area and meddling in the governance issues of the Bakgaga-Ba-Ga-Mphahlele.
Dithabaneng Mining, a company whose directors are close to Malema and other EFF leaders, is involved in mining activities in the area amid tensions between local traditional regent Sophia Ngwanamohube and some locals who accuse the company of illegal mining. Dithabeng Mining’s directors include controversial businessman Adriano Mazzotti, Rueben Gladstone and Sayed Mohammadh.
Malema is known to be close to Mazzotti, who owns cigarette company Carnilinx. The businessman previously donated money to the EFF. Malema had allegedly also used money from a Carnlinx director, Kyle Phillips, to settle his debt with the SARS.
At its recent meeting held under the auspices of the Mphahlele Royal Council, the community expressed anger over Buthane’s failure to respond to its letter. The community meeting’s report seen by African Times stated:
“We have written a letter to the EFF Provincial Secretary raising concerns about their interference in the governance issues of Bakgaga-Ba-Ga-Mphahlele. Up till now, the EFF Provincial Secretary has not responded, and individual members of the party are continuing to badmouth and even insult our commitment to improve the livelihood of members of Bakgaga-Ba-Ga-Mphahlele. “We appeal to members of the community to decide whether we support the EFF as a political party or we isolate them for their interference into our affairs as well as promoting illegal mining in our area.”
Earlier on, in the letter dated September 20, 2017, the Royal Council accused EFF of meddling in
the affairs of the community. The matter came to a head when EFF leader in the Lepelle-Nkumpi
sub-region, of which Ga-Mphahlele is part, Topa Mphahlele, allegedly led a group of supporters to Sefalaolo Mine where there was a strike by workers.
The letter claims that Mphahlele told the workers that they should resume duty “whether they liked it or not because Mr [Julius] Malema will not like the delay in production.” However, Buthane on Tuesday again indicated that he has not received a letter from the Mphahlele community.
He said: “I have not received the letter and my office did not receive such a letter.” He earlier
denied that Mphahlele led a group to the mine. Malema could not be reached for comment.
The Council further cast doubt on whether EFF was an anti-corruption buster, and accused the party of protecting illegal mining activity in the area. This comes at a time when the Ga-Mphahlele community and the Royal Council are involved in a legal action against Ngwanamohube, her son Thabo Malekutu, and Dithabeng Mining.
The community has accused Dithabeng Mining of having “captured” Ngwanamohube and her son, Thabo Malekutu, before entering into an unlawful joint venture to mine chrome and other
minerals in the area. The Polokwane High Court has since ordered the three to stop conducting illegal and unlawful mining activities without a valid permit and renegotiate with the Community Development Trust.
The community and the Royal Council, together with Mashemo Owners Association, have also asked the court – as Part B of the application – to review and set aside all the agreements and decisions that Ngwanamohube has taken so far on behalf of the community, saying she has no valid traditional leadership certificate.
The matter is still to be heard in court. But in her answering affidavit, Ngwanamohube dismissed the Mphahlele Royal Council as non-existent and “moreover, such a council, if it exists, it is not in charge of the Mphahlele traditional community”.
She said the Department of Mineral Resources granted the Mphahlele Traditional Community a
preferrent prospecting right in 2015, which was to be effected within 120 days, failing which the right would be cancelled or suspended. She, however, pointed out that a year lapsed before an investor could be identified.
In January this year, the Mphahlele Traditional Governance Council entered into negotiations
with Dithabeng Mining: “The negotiations culminated in three community meetings, at which
members of the community were advised of the proposals and the undertakings put forth by the Fourth respondent (Dithabeng). “The estimated budget, considered and approved by the
Department of Mineral Resources for prospecting operations was an amount of R66 600 000. I find it needless to mention that Bakgakga Ba Ga Mphahlele Traditional Governance Council does not have such capital.”
Ngwanamohube insisted she remains an acting chieftainess of the Mphahlele tribe and was “recognised as such by the Premier of Limpopo as can be seen by recent salary advise”. She also outlined the positive spin offs being generated by Dithabeng in the community.
See also see Page 6