Communities call on government to intervene in Glencore dispute

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Various communities of the Bakwena ba Mokgopa tribe are calling on the Department of Mineral Resources to intervene in their dispute with Glencore-Rhovan Mine outside Brits, in North West. Disgruntled community members have been camping outside the mine’s entrance since the beginning of the week.

They want mine management to keep its promise of prioritizing locals for jobs. Permanent employment, infrastructure development and regular engagement are among their list of demands.

Community members from Berseba, Modikwe, Bethanie, Makolokwe and the Maumong villages, which form the Bakwena ba Mokgopa Tribal Authority, have led to a total shutdown of the Glencore-Rhovan Mine since the beginning of the week.

They say the mine has been operating on their land for over thirty years but no development is visible in their areas. One of the community members, Daisy Leroke says 90 percent of the residents, especially the youth, are unemployed while the mine prioritizes outsiders.

“Our problem is they keep on promising to hire us, to give us jobs. Some of us went for the medical test and they said they’re going to call us to come and work. But they replaced us with people from other provinces. What makes us wonder is that in this mine, when you are hired there, are documents that you produce and one of them is a proof of residence. So, I wonder where those people get those proof of residence, because only our tribal authority issues those documents. So, something is fishy.”

Meanwhile, the secretary of Bakwena ba Mokgopa Tribal Authority, Batlile Mogotsi says they have a 29 percent share in the Glencore-Rhovan Mine and deserve to be prioritized when it comes to job opportunities and developments.

“I am expecting at least 70% of the population of Bakwena ba Mokgopa being employed by Rhovan instead of having all the contractors from outside to come with their employees and disregard the people of the village who are supposed to be benefiting more than anybody else.”

The chairperson of Bakwena ba Mokgopa labour recruitment and development, Segoai Thage says Glencore-Rhovan should equip their people with the necessary skills.

“When it comes to the contractors, we have realised that there is a 98% of white contractors. They are coming from far and the policies we want is to make sure Rhovan enforces that they should outsource labourers from local recruitment centres. They should have 30% of local employment.”

In a statement, Glencore says community members have embarked on an unlawful protest in terms of the Gatherings Act.

The mine says it will continue to work with all affected stakeholders and authorities to come to a peaceful solution and affirms its commitment to uphold human rights.