Mining companies 'polluting SA politics'

2012-08-14 16:23

Johannesburg - South Africa's political system is being polluted by mining companies, the Bench Marks Foundation said on Tuesday.

"It makes democracy problematic, because whose interests are being served?" asked foundation researcher David van Wyk.

"There are political parties who need to win elections. They need huge amounts of funding to win those elections and those corporations give them the funding to win those elections," he said in Johannesburg.

He said mining companies which were in favour of the party elected were problematic and undermined democracy.

"This is why communities end up in the streets protesting, instead of going through the democratic channels that are there, because they don't feel like they can trust the democratic channels."

Van Wyk said this was why there had been service delivery protests almost every month since August last year in the North West.

The foundation was releasing a study entitled "Policy Gap 6, Living in the Platinum Minefields".

It looked at six mining communities and examined what had changed, what had improved, and what needed to be done.

The companies surveyed were Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited, Lonmin, Xstrata, Aquarius Platinum Limited, and Royal Bafokeng Platinum Limited.

The Bench Marks Foundation is an independent, faith-based organisation monitoring how well companies perform in the field of social responsibility.

Van Wyk said politicians becoming board members of mining companies was a problem.

"A lot of the problems arise from what we call 'political pollution'. Politicians becoming board members is becoming a problem," he said.

There were examples in the study's report of political involvement.

Van Wyk read from the report: "The Bench Marks Foundation is disappointed by the [black economic empowerment] information contained in the Aquarius report to the effect that Zwelake Sisulu, HRH Princess Zenani Mandela-Dlamini, and Malibongwe Women's Development Agency are all beneficiaries of Aquarius shareholding."