Home News ’Don’t blame us for Prieska protest’ – Mayor

’Don’t blame us for Prieska protest’ – Mayor

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The Siyathemba Municipality in Prieska has indicated the majority of the grievances highlighted by protesters during a two-day protest is not within the jurisdiction of the council.

Angry Prieska residents protested on Thursday on Friday. Picture: Supplied

The Siyathemba Municipality in Prieska has indicated the majority of the grievances highlighted by protesters during a two-day protest is not within the jurisdiction of the council.

Angry community members barricaded the entry roads to the town with burning tyres and parked cars on April 29, 2021 to highlight their grievances concerning planned mining operations by Orion Minerals.

The protest continued on Friday, April 30 where protesters once again burnt tyres in front of the municipality.

The mayor of Siyathemba municipality, Gloria Speelman said the protesters are directing their anger at the wrong party.

Speelman said she acknowledged the rights of the community to protest, however, the grievances of the protesters cannot be solely laid at the door of the municipality.

“On April 29, 2021 the municipal council had a meeting with concerned parties and some of the issues which were raised as their demands included representatives of the protesters requesting a Formal Council Endorsement to support the various issues raised with regards to new businesses that plan to trade in Siyathemba.

“They demanded a 40% Local Joint Venture (JV) arrangement from all new business ventures in Siyathemba or allocated tenders or the Orion Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) on behalf of the community, a 30% local procurement section to be ring-fenced for the local businesses and a guaranteed 50% of local employment of locals on all projects. We note the requests by our community however, we are of the opinion that the 40% request for an EPCM and other business-type JV arrangements with new potential investors into the local economy cannot be prescriptive as the investors does not do business with the local municipality.

“The municipality can only communicate this demand as a request.

“The business people should rather engage the provincial and national departments to deal with these issues.

“The 30% ring-fencing is another request that is not in councils jurisdiction, but there are regulations and policies put in place by the National Government to regulate these.

“The municipality does not have the authority to preside over this matter. This request should be directed to the business investors.

“With regards to the 50% of employment of locals on all projects, the municipality can only adopt this with regards to municipal-related projects, but it does not prevent us to bargain on an amicable solution with investors while bearing our skills in mind,” said Speelman.

She said the protesters’ representatives had tried to force her hand in making a resolution in which she does have the authority to do.

“This protest was brought on because they wanted to stop a site-visit by Orion. The protesters wanted me to stop the mine management from visiting the site.

“I have called an ordinary meeting with councillors in order to have the requests of the protesters put on record. I do not have the authority to carry out the request of the protesters unless I am given the instruction by council members. The protesters representative, however, wanted me to call a council meeting when they gave me their mandate,” she said.

Speelman has accused some individuals being the instigators of the protest.

“We have also noted that the mentioned demands are done and intended to benefit specific companies and Individuals that raised these issues in the name of our communities. We plead with the community for their consistency. We would therefore warn you to be wary of individuals or groups that are misleading or playing with your feelings. They are pushing their own agendas and divide our communities for their own interest,” said Speelman.

Orion minerals said it was committed to its social responsibility as well as upliftment of the community once mining activities should commence.

“Orion remains committed to the Prieska Mine project and our internationally recognised Environmental, Social and Governance standards.

“Our shareholders have invested and continue to invest substantial shareholder funding on community engagement and upliftment as well as progressing the project to development.

“We are proud that we exceed the South African Mining Charter requirements and have made clear commitments to substantial employee training and continued enterprise development for the benefit of our host community, who are also shareholders in the company.

“From the outset of work at Prieska, Orion has been quite clear that it will expect all core contractors to employ locals and to bring on board local sub-contractors whenever these can be sourced locally on fair and commercial terms. This will foster high local employment, contracting and subcontracting opportunities.

“As training and enterprise development programmes progress, we expect to source increasing supplies and services locally.

“We have received enormous support from the greater part of the community who do not support or condone Thursday’s actions in any way, and we understand the negative impact that this action may have on the Siyathemba community.

“We remain committed to constructively engage on all issues that require mutual cooperation with all our stakeholders,” management said.