Re-emergence of The White Man’s Burden: SANRAL’s criminal culture of deception and fraud - by Nonhl

2016-11-04 12:32

On 18 October, Mr Craig McLachlan, project manager at SANRAL for the Wild Coast N2 Toll Road, published an opinion piece on the News24 website called “Re-emergence of the noble savage? Colonialist myths abound in N2 Wild Coast Toll Road debate”.

This is a very learned title, but who wants to complete a colonialist project for Pondoland? Who thinks he is the saviour and a missionary?

Save perhaps for certain mining companies, SANRAL must be the most ruthless and dishonest company in South Africa. SANRAL managers and consultants are lying as they drink water, not only in media, but also in sworn affidavits and at community meetings. That is why SANRAL had to withdraw four forged affidavits from court when fighting against the Amadiba coastal community: They claimed one forged affidavit was from a leader of the opposition to mining and to the N2 “Green Route”. She is the secretary of the Umgungundlovu Headwoman. Three affidavits were from “persons in Sigidi village” who don’t exist. The ward councillor used by SANRAL to organise the fraud and who lied in affidavits was kicked from his position by the community. The same goes for the sub-headman in Mdatya who took part in the frame-up of Headwoman’s secretary. The community has replaced them both.

I remember the “public consultation”. We first heard there were five alternative routes. Then nothing happened. In 2011, SANRAL put up a tent with maps at the Mahaha School in Amadiba. A SANRAL consultant and the leading local mining director told people they must sign up for the coastal route. People from the inland signed up for jobs. SANRAL’s transport from Sigidi were four hours late. We arrived when they were closing. We refused to sign the attendance lists. Later we found hundreds of names on lists in the Port Edward library. All of them had signed for the “Xolobeni coastal route”. Why did everybody have the same opinion?

Up to this day there have been no consultations in Sigidi or Mdatya. Which homesteads have to be moved? Where are people supposed to go? What will be the compensation when they lose their land? We use our land for our livelihood. After ten years, SANRAL still refuses to say where Mr Nazir Alli wants his “Green Route”. People know nothing and that is how SANRAL wants it.

SANRAL’s promises to communities are made to be broken. They are distributed as plastic pearls. In October 2013, Mr Nazir Alli made his only appearance in Umgungundlovu, Wild Coast. He came to tell Mdatya and Sigidi villages to withdraw our court case. He made mad promises like: “We will help your children to university! They don’t even have to pass the exams, because SANRAL has contacts!” Telling lies and using that many don’t know how things work: this is how SANRAL operates.  

Next month, SANRAL organised a trip for leaders to see that N2 High Way is wonderful for communities. We managed to speak to people outside SANRAL’s guided tour and understood we had to come back. In April 2014 the Umgungundlovu traditional authority had raised enough money for us to find out for ourselves. 32 representatives from all villages took two taxis to Viedgesville community outside Umtata and met over 60 villagers. The compensation had been R5000 per moved house. A large piece of land had become a stone field. The family had used it for over hundred years to grow food. Their compensation was R11000, and so on, and so on. Why are people so ungrateful, Missionary McLachlan? Can you survey them and ask?

Mr McLachlan’s wants to influence the judges before the upcoming hearing in the Pretoria High Court, middle of November. SANRAL will again try to deny the Amadiba coastal community the right to voice and representation and avoid the major case against the “Green Route” of the N2 Toll Road. It is planned to cut through the Sigidi, Mdatya, Xolobeni villages and then through Baleni, on its way to two “R5 billion” giant bridges over two rivers.

What SANRAL does not want to have tested in court is if the “Green Route” N2 Toll Road is good for our community, for the Wild Coast environment, for development and for South Africa.

Mr McLachlan’s long argument about “support for N2 Toll Road” has nothing to do with what SANRAL argues in court. SANRAL does not argue that there is support for the N2 Toll Road “Green Route” in Mdatya and Sigidi – the villages that formally can oppose N2 and which SANRAL must get rid of. SANRAL only argues that the Amadiba chief is supporting the N2 “Green Route”, nothing else. Mr McLachlan is completely silent about this fact.

Lunga Baleni was made a mining “director” and betrayed our community. The chief is a mining applicant. He has the duty to promote Transworld Energy and Mineral’s (TEM’s) interests in a High Way that runs along the mining area.

Disregarding the upcoming court case against the “Green Route”, SANRAL has in fact already started to work under cover of “road upgrades” where two giant bridges are planned. This is why Ukhozi FM has started to sing about a road in honour of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo. But the plan for N2 “Green Route” is in honour of Cecil Rhodes.

In Sigidi and Mdatya, the 80 m wide N2 is planned to run right through 3km from the coast line. The only reason for this is to serve the “Xolobeni Mining Project” with a modern road for trucks.

SANRAL has always denied that the N2 “Green Route” has anything to do with mining. The connection must be hidden between the “Green Route” and open cast mining in a 22km/1.5km conservation area. Knowledge is power. That is why we have to be kept in the dark.

TEM’s mining application was stopped by the community in 2008 and “suspended” (just like the 18 month “moratorium” just announced by DMR Minister Mr Zwane). The then Minister of DMR, Susan Shabangu gave TEM the right to start the process again in 2011.

After suing TEM for the mining application, the coastal Traditional Authority and the Amadiba Crisis Committee finally got a redacted copy in March 2016. On page 36 the application of course says:

Mine access from Port Edward will be either:

-       Via the proposed N2 highway should it be ready in time

-       Via existing R66 highway.” (…)

For the “existing R66” (it is R61, but the mining application is full of mistakes), there follows a long explanation. For the N2 alternative no explanations are needed.

A public road building company must take the location of future industries into its planning. This is why development plans are called “IDP”. The first letter means “Integrated”. SANRAL changed the N2 route when the Wild Coast mining project got green light again by DMR in 2011.

The map below shows the planned route today. It is a detail from a Power Point provided 28 January this year by a SANRAL official to Bazooka Radebe (assassinated 22 March), Mzamo Dlamini and Nonhle Mbuthuma. This was during an effort to trap the Amadiba Crisis Committee leaders 27-28 January. What happened could be an episode in “Scandal” or “Isibaya”. The scheme was led by Mr Ngalo, SANRAL’s consultant since July 2015 and spokesperson of Zanozuko who is a contender for the AmaMpondo thrown supported by President Zuma.

The map from this year shows that the N2 “Green Route” now even runs southeast of the Sigidi SPS. To no surprise, the Department of Education in October told the teachers that the government wants to close this school for 120 children in Grade 1-6. Distance to nearest school is 12km. This is why the Sigidi community 35 years ago built this school. This is how “poor” and helpless we are in Amadiba, Missionary McLachlan.

As a part of this change of plans, the mining lobby in the Mbizana municipality in May 2015 illegally adopted a new SDF. The N2 has all together disappeared from the maps. The new “2015 SDF” says that “sand mining” for titanium minerals is already taking place in Xolobeni! The coast line is no longer conservation and tourism area, as in the valid 2009 SDF. The illegal “2015 SDF” is on its way to court. Tax payers will pay for this racketeering.

The laws governing traditional leaders say that the chief must represent and act in the interest of the whole community. Chief Lunga Baleni is not acting in accordance with the law or by AmaMpondo customary law when applying for the Xolobeni Mining Project and supporting N2 “Green Route”. 70 homesteads are located in the 22km/1.5km mining area.  Against the will of the community, chief Lunga and the mining company wants the N2 Toll Road as close to the coast as possible for the mining trucks, cutting the transport costs enormously, destroying more land, displacing more homesteads and schools and tearing the whole of Umgungundlovu apart. He and his company TEM is even trying to close the Umgungundlovu traditional authority established by his grandfather 65 years ago and they are threatening our Headwoman. Neither by AmaMpondo customary law nor the laws adopted by parliament can chief Lunga withdraw the review application against N2 brought against SANRAL by Sigidi and Mdatya villages, which would be cut in two halves by this “development”.

Missionary McLachlan says that the people in Sigidi, Mdatya and Baleni are “begging” SANRAL to start to build N2 through in their villages. They want to be saved by SANRAL from “outsiders”! He claims “98.8% of the AmaMpondo” support the N2 Green Route. He refers to a survey from 2011 made in 3 towns (Lusikisiki, Port Edward and Port St John) and 7 villages. Strangely, the surveyors did not visit the Amadiba coastal area: Sigidi, Mdatya, Xolobeni, Mpindweni and Mtentu. For this reason alone, the survey is irrelevant to what this is about.  But readers can find the survey on SANRAL’s website. Here are some examples:

Do you think your life satisfaction would improve if the new national road were to be built? There are of course no questions formulated to the opposite: “…would your life be worse? ...”. But “national” sounds proud and nice, isn’t it?

Why were people not asked about alternatives: “Would you instead prefer us to upgrade the existing roads?”  The authors write:  Virtually all the participants identified the challenges faced as a consequence of poor roads. They also expressed the hope that the new road would be well maintained, unlike the existing roads.

The 2011 survey does not show “overwhelming support” for the actual N2 High Way Toll Road as such. Just as can be expected, it shows overwhelming support for job opportunities and expectations of benefits, which could be reached by other means, but not with a Toll Road for BMWs and mining trucks. SANRAL should build and upgrade local roads that everybody uses. Just like the upgrading of R61 from Port Edward to Mbizana, which everybody supports.

The authors finally write:

The primary reasons given for this support are the general perception that the construction of the road will herald the creation of new employment opportunities in this extremely deprived region of South Africa. This hope would need to be addressed by SANRAL in order to make the high expectations more realistic.”

The dishonest culture in SANRAL most likely affects what is reported internally. But ever since the forged affidavits, we have also understood that it is important for SANRAL officials and lawyers to avoid situations where they would be confronted with the truth and with the massive opposition to the N2 Toll Road in Umgungundlovu coastal area: in Mdatya, Sigidi and the other three villages. High officials must not be heard or seen in recordings and videos at community meetings.

This where people like Mr Ngalo comes in. Just like chief and mining director Lunga Baleni, he runs around and spread lies: “You see, the court has kicked out the villages Mdatya and Sigidi from the case. The N2 Green Route is now only opposed by one man.”

Mr Ngalo and an SANRAL official came to Mdatya to meet the community 11 October. “Where have you been?”  “We could not come before because we were sitting in the court discussing Mdatya and Sigidi.”

Mr Ngalo had to hurry to his car after lying a little too much. After this he cancelled his meeting in Sigidi the same day. This was the third time this year he chickened out. We were over two hundred waiting for him.

Next day 12 October, the AmaMpondo Queen Masobhuza and Crown Princess Wesizwe were listening to two SANRAL officials coming on surprise visit to the Royal House of Qaukeni. One of them was the now retired Mr Nazir Alli: “We have come to consult about the N2.”

“Have you? So there is one more N2?”, asked the Crown Princess. “No, there is only one”. “So why are you here? We have heard of this N2 for many years. You have already started, haven’t you?”

“By the way”, asked the Crown Princess, “do you know Mr Ngalo?”  “No! No! We don’t know him.”

“The AmaMpondo wants the N2”, Mr Alli tried. “We know what our people want”, the Queen responded. The unexpected visitors were shown the door.

Mr Alli has avoided the late AmaMpondo King and Queen Masobhuza for many years. Queen Masobhuza is the legitimate and lawful holder of the AmaMpondo thrown according to both customary law and the laws adopted by parliament. SANRAL says it has closed the tender for the bridges and already tries to start the work.

Why is the retired Mr Alli now working extra?  Should not Mr Alli sit at home and play with his grand children? Who has he consulted during all these years as representing the AmaMpondo? Tell us who, Missionary McLachlan, and tell us why.

Nonhle Mbuthuma,

Secretary of the Amadiba Crisis Committee

Read more on:    sanral
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