The dialogue which happened on the 19th August 2020 in Newcastle Municipal Parks and Recreation building was a success. The meeting was organized by NEJA to meet the relevant stakeholders in Environmental Management around Amajuba District, the meeting housed the Environmental Affairs officials representing the 3 municipalities: Dannhauser, Newcastle and Utrecht/ Emadlangeni Municipality. The main concern of the objectivity of the Campaign is to Arrest Coal Expansion in the region, particularly in Dannhauser which boasts a massive toxic legacy of coal mining.

Dannhauser continues to house more mines than any other small town in KwaZulu- Natal. We called for the Municipality of Dannhauser to seize any further development of the mine in the area, we called for abandoned mines to be effectively rehabilitated as it poses environmental and safety threat having abandoned mine left with the public. The municipality has signed a letter of endorsement that it will work with NEJA in addressing these issues, the copy of the letter is attached in this email. The department of Mineral Resources managed to send an apology through its official Ncamisile Mtshali who was supposed to attend but cited short notice and time to prepare for such meetings. We also got online the Premiers office of KZN, which Mr. Micheal Mkhwanazi urged that on the next meeting they would love to engage in this dialogue, so they expect an early invitation so the Premier’s office can send a delegate.

The deputy director of Amajuba District Environmental Program Mrs. Nothile Mthimkhulu encouraged the dialogue, and also called for a more inclusive one which will bring DMR and Premier’s Office on board, she mentioned that they’re ready as the district to act swiftly on Environmental and Climate Justice. Themba Khumalo, a community activist from Kaalfagte farm who’s a victim of forceful removals, narrated how his community was betrayed by the Municipality of Dannhauser by allowing Ikhwezi Mine to mine at their doorstep.

The dialogue is set to continue and reach the department of health to be part of it as health-related concerns are part of mining development. We also need to be with the Department of Education as many schools have felt the pinch of Coal dust as situated next to coal mines around Amajuba District. The department of Environmental Affairs has their Youth Outreach Program Officers as delegates who are planted in all three municipalities under Amajuba District, we had Mncedisi Fakude, Lethukuthula Zikhali, and Mbali Nxumalo, these are Youth Outreach Program Officers whom we are now working with in driving Sustainable Development and Green Economy initiative instead of coal reliance.

The 18 of September 2020 was the date suggested for seating the dialogue and where resolutions will be effectively taken however due to the Global Climate Strikes we have postponed it to Mid October.

Nkanyiso Mthombeni