Abolition of Lebowa Minerals Trust Bill: discussion

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Mineral Resources and Energy

26 September 2000
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

This Report is a Contact Natural Resource Information Service
Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament

The aim of this report is to summarize the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.

26 September 2000

Documents handed out:
Public Hearings on the Abolition of the Lebowa Minerals Trust Bill
Abolition of the Lebowa Minerals Trust Bill
Programme for the Public Hearings
Lebowa Government (RSA) - Official Gazette
RSA Government Gazette 7 December 1994

Committee members heard recommendations from the State Law Advisers on the Abolition of the Lebowa Minerals Trust Bill. After some clarifications regarding procedure and issues within the bill, Mr M Ramodike presented the committee with a brief submission. The chairperson allowed some brief debate and then decided to delay the proceedings until the next meeting to allow members to familiarise themselves with documents collected at the public hearings held last Friday.

Chairperson Mr Nkosi (ANC) opened the meeting by thanking committee members for being present and noting the package of submissions received from the public hearings held last Friday.

Mr E J Lucas (IFP) thanked the chair for the substantial package of information gathered from the public hearings and for allowing the committee to meet in Northern Province this coming weekend. This will be extremely helpful in letting the members better grasp the issues at hand before making a decision.

Parliamentary advisers Mr Anton Meyer and Mr Taljaard began their presentation by apologising to the committee that they could not locate a full copy of the Lebowa Minerals Trust Act before this meeting and so are not fully briefed. Mr Taljaard also drew the committee's attention to the legal action being posed against the Minister and President regarding the proposed bill, on the grounds that abolition infringes on the constitutional rights of people in Lebowa. They advised that despite this court action there is no technical reason why the committee should not continue processing this bill. He would only advise halting the procedure should the President himself express reservations about the constitutionality of the bill. However, Mr Taljaard warned the committee that they must make absolutely certain that there are no unconstitutional elements in the bill should they continue with processing it. He articulated concern about Clause 3C, which refers to the granting of mineral rights by the Minister should a person apply and adequately prove ownership. Because this clause permits the Minister to "grant" mineral rights back to rightful owners, it is suggested that the bill envisages certain rights that may be being taken away. Mr Taljaard pointed to Section 25 of the Constitution, which deals with property rights, and stated that this section could be used to construe the bill as unconstitutional. Also, the bill makes no provision for compensation. The advisers suggested that mineral rights under the Lebowa Act be preserved or that avenues of proper compensation be allowed for.

Mr A.H. Nel (NNP) asked for clarity regarding the legal standing of a person who owns land held in a trust.

Mr Taljaard said that he assumes the LMT Act held the land in the best interests of the people and reminded the committee that they have not had a chance to review the Act in full.

At this point the State Law Adviser Mr Rocha from the Department of Minerals and Energy mentioned that the Act seeks to separate those mineral rights of different tribes and hold them in a trust. In a trust situation like this there may be owners of rights and/or beneficiaries, the difference being that when rights of owners are taken away they can be considered expropriation. It is not considered to be expropriation when beneficiary rights are taken away, and the Department has yet to decide what category those people involved in mineral rights under Lebowa fall under.

Mr I.O. Davidson (DP) said that the state law adviser is wrong. Under no conditions may rights held in beneficiary be taken away and if they are, then compensation must be provided. He asserted that the Committee must get correct legal information, and not rely solely on that which they are fed by the Department.

Chairperson Nkosi asked the committee to try and steer away from debate. The members must allow guidance from the law advisers to be given and accept that the point of view they are provided with is one of many.

Mr A H Nel (NNP) requested the state advisers to check the validity of their advice.
Mr Nkosi reiterated that the adviser is just part of the process. The committee will depend on him for advice throughout the proceedings and it will ultimately be up to the members to make a sound decision.

Mr M N Ramodike (UDM) presented the committee with a brief history of the Lebowa Minerals Trust. He pointed out that the LMT has contributed substantially to social development in the area through various grants to rural areas and education. He cautioned the committee not to be misled by Departmental exaggerations that the LMT did not benefit the people of the Northern Province at all. The Northern Province has the highest mineral reserves in the country. It is tragic that they also have the lowest economic standings and a very high unemployment rate. He called attention to the fact that traditional leaders were not sought out by the Department during consultations, and in fact the majority of beneficiaries were not consulted. Further, the consultations that were carried out were collected in only one language although the beneficiaries speak a variety of languages and dialects. Mr Ramodike concluded by emphasising the importance of establishing joint ventures between big business conglomerates and traditional groups. For further information see Mr Ramodike's presentation in Appendix 1.

Mr Davidson (DP) asked the chair if the committee is to discuss the principle of the bill or just concentrate on clause-by-clause. The chair responded by saying it will be the decision of the committee to decide the desirability of the bill. He said at this point the proceedings the committee has enough information to make a decision.

Mr Davison then asked for clarity from the state law adviser regarding beneficiary rights, more particularly towards their previous statement that beneficiaries to do not hold rights to compensation.

Mr at this point reassured members that the law advisers will accompany the committee throughout the proceedings and will be available to provide information at appropriate points. He then asked the committee to reconvene on Wednesday morning (27 September) and to review the information collected from the public hearings. The meeting was ajourned.




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Appendix 1:



1 Political Background (Land and Mineral Rights)

1.1. It is public knowledge that the colonial and Apartheid regimes dispossessed black people of their land and mineral heritage.

1.2 It is also a historical fact that communities, traditional leaders and kings who resisted against the dispossession of their land and mineral heritage were crushed, deported or forcefully removed by these regimes e.g. King Sekhukune, King Makgobo, Paramount Chief Maleboho, Chief Letsoalo and others.

1.3 Upon the establishment of Bantustans the ownership, control and legislative authority of land and minerals remained the competency of the state.

1.4. Several pieces of obnoxious and oppressive legislation which were intended to deny and deprive black people of their land and mineral heritage were passed by the Apartheid regime.


1.5. The regime granted mineral rights in black areas to white mining conglomerates and the inhabitants of these areas benefited nothing e.g. Sekhukhuneland, Mapele, Phalaborwa and Bakenberg in the Northern Province.

1 6 These mining conglomerates denied the local inhabitants employment opportunities and recruited people from other countries as mine workers.

1.7. Most of the Bantustans were granted so called self-governing status during 1972 and 1973. Land and mineral rights remained however the competency of the Apartheid regime, except in those Bantustans who opted for so called independence and who are commonly known as the TBVC states,

1.8, The regime kept land and mineral rights as a package deal for option of so-called independence which was outright and unconditionally rejected by six former Bantustans and in particular Lebowa and Kwazulu who sent several joint statements to the former State Presidents Botha and de Klerk.

1.9. Lebowa strived tirelessly and engaged the regime individually and jointly with other self governing states to obtain the land and mineral rights and for the removal of the constraints and impediments of social-economic development in black areas.

1 10 Much political pressure was placed on the regime in this regard in particular by the Kwazulu and Lebowa jointly by inter-alia boycotting meetings and defying some official decisions taken by the regime for Bantustan governments, rejection of the so-called tri-cameral Parliament and statutory council.

1.11 It was against this background that the Lebowa Minerals Trust and other trusts were established.

2. Historical Background

2.1 Prior to December 1986 the Lebowa Government had no legislative authority over land and mineral matters within its jurisdictional area comprising 135 areas of traditional authorities.

2.2 The ownership of land and mineral rights vested in the white mining houses, some private persons, certain tribes and communities, the SADT and the State.

2.3 Lebowa government obtained legislative authority over land and mineral matters by proclamation on 31 December 1986 after some lengthy negotiations with the apartheid regime.

2.4 The Lebowa Legislative Assembly comprising sixty designated traditional leaders and forty elected members passed the Lebowa Minerals Trust Act No 9 of 1987 which was approved by the President of the RSA. Clearly, traditional leaders were very instrumental to the establishment of the LMT and the Lebowa Trust to land titles.

2.5 The main objective for the establishment of the LMT was to hold mineral rights for the material benefit and welfare of the inhabitants of the above named 135 previously disadvantaged areas of traditional authorities.

2.6 The benefits derived from the exploitation of mineral resources were and still are utilized for the socio-economic development of these areas especially towards generation of revenue, creation of employment opportunities for the inhabitants of the area, upliftment of the local entrepreneurs and the development of skills.

2.7 The LMT was also used as an agent by the former Lebowa Government for recruitment of foreign investors, hence, the enlistment of this trust at the JSE and London stock exchange. The Lebowa Government would not do this on it's own for political reasons. Remember we were between the devil and the deep sea. Someone had to cater for the needs of the people.

3. Benefits (material benefit and welfare of the inhabitants)

3.1 Many roads were tarred through revenue from mineral development that accrued to

Lebowa by means of prospecting fees, clay and sand extraction and royalties e.g.

Lebowakgomo - Jane Furse Road, Lebowakgomo - Groothoek road, Seshego -Tibane road, Dendron - Bochum road, Motetema - Steelpoort road, Lebowakgomo -Burgersfort road, etc.

3.2 Many students obtained bursaries to further their studies at various universities in South Africa and these included 50 students currently doing mining and mineral related studies at various universities.

3.3 Several public institutions were built through revenue which accrued inter-alia from

the LMT e.g. Lebowkgomo commercial college, Harry Openheimer Agricultural high school, Dr Phatudi hospital, Mankweng Nursing college and Mankweng hospital next to the University of the North.

3.4 Several job opportunities were created e.g. Dilokong chrome mine, Maandagshoek platinum mine, Atok mine, Lebowa granite quarries, Potgietersburg platinum mine etc. Many inhabitants of the Northern Province bought shares in these mines through the LMT

3.5 Several black entrepreneurs have benefited from the LMT and these include the spouses of some MEC's and the Premier of the Northern Province.

3.6 The University of the North received a grant of RI million from the LMT

to complete a feasibility study on the introduction of a school of mining.

This is the first and only feasibility study of it's kind to be carried out by a university in this country.

3.7 A further amount of R250 000 was granted lately by the LMT to the University of the North for other projects.

3.8 A grant of R180 000 was made by the LMT for the Siloe school for the blind for computers.

3.9 An amount of R500 000 was now currently utilized by the LMT for the rehabilitation of the old mines in the Northern Province.

3.10 A grant of R1.8 million has been allocated to rural communities for water projects.

3.11 The Northern Province government is presently withholding an amount of R300 million for the LMT shares which should have been utilized for the material benefit of the inhabitants of the Northern Province.

3.12 If need be I will submit a list of other benefits which accrue from the LMT. This Portfolio Committee was further misled by some officials of the Department during their presentations.

3.13 It clearly proves that a senior official of the DME in the Northern Province who stated during his presentation to the Committee in Cape Town that the people of the Northern Province or former Lebowa benefited nothing from the LMT misled the Committee and that several issues were blown out of proportion.

3.14 It is highly immoral that Government officials, MEC's spouses and the Premiers spouse who have benefited from the LMT should now recommend for the abolition of this trust.

4. MineraI Potential

The former Lebowa and in fact the entire Province has very high mineral deposits which remain inadequately explored. It is a hypothetical paradox that the Northern Province which has the highest mineral potential in the country remains one of the poorest provinces with a very high rate of unemployment. The maximum exploitation mineral wealth in the Northern Province by inter-alia capacitating empowerment agencies like the LMT will certainly benefit the region.


5. Discrimination

    1. Several other land and mineral trusts in the country were established almost at the the LMT. These trusts have not been abolished by the Government e.g. (Ngonyama, Bafokeng, Gazankulu and Lebowa Land trusts which has already many free hold title deeds for traditional authorities e.g. the Mphalhlele, Matlala, Bakenburg (Nebo), Maleboho tribes. The inhabitants of the Northern Province and in particular the beneficiaries of the LMT feel very much discriminated against. The methods used in the establishment of these trusts may differ, but the principle and the objective is clearly the same.
    2. These traditional authorities have as a matter of fact already obtained ownership of land through the Land Claims Commission.

5.3 This matter has not been investigated by officials of the DME, hence the handling of the mineral rights in isolation.

6. Consultations

Reports made by a senior offical of the DME in the Northern Province on consultations with beneficiaries were clearly distorted, far fetched and unfounded, This official told the Committee that he consulted 30 traditional leaders for Sekhukhuneland in Pretoria when he went there for another issue. This was not proper consultation The majority of the beneficiaries compromising the 135 traditional authorities and not traditional leaders only were clearly never consulted. It is common knowledge that individual traditional leaders can not be consulted in the absence of their traditional authorities. It has emerged that the 30 traditional leaders or headmen who met the above named official in Pretoria are those who have recruited by Messrs Mphahlele and Nape Maepe to join the so called Northern Province Resource Management and Maaparankwe Corporation which claims the assets of the LMT hence their recommendation during the public hearings that all apartheid remnants should be destroyed.

The private sector comprising the businessmen who are also beneficiaries of the LMT and the majority of the traditional leaders and their traditional authorities were never consulted on the abolition of the LMT. It is my submission to the Committee that the beneficiaries or the majority of the beneficiaries were not duly and properly consulted. The official tried to impress on this Committee that he invited interested people, affected people and the beneficiaries to a debate in the SABC (Thobela FM). This arrangement was clearly not consulted. It is further my submission that the beneficiaries of the LMT speak different languages e.g. Swazi, Ndebele, Shangaan, Pedi and other languages and dialects. The invitation to debate the abolition of the LMT during the Thobela FM interview was extended to the beneficiaries in Lobedu, which is the officials mother tongue and not in all the other languages spoken and understood by the beneficiaries.

7. Transformation versus Abolition of the LMT

It is my considered opinion that the role of Government in the mineral industry should be supportive, enabling and stabilizing and should compromise inter-alia:

  • Addressing past racial prejudices and inequities by assisting those previously disadvantaged, dispossessed, deprived and excluded from mineral rights
  • Encourage and facilitate the development of small scale mining sector and participation by the disadvantaged people.
  • Support free market principles in the marketing of minerals by limiting state intervention.
  • Encourage, support and facilitate the creation of job opportunities entrepreneurs in the mining industry.
  • Ameliorate the social consequences of downscaling and mine closure.
  • Encourage, support and facilitate joint ventures between big mining conglomerates and the previously disadvantaged people, e.g. joint venture between Amplats and Mvela-phanda.
  1. Conclusion

8.1 My submission to the Committee is that the transformation of the LMT appears more feasible as recommended by the majority of members of the task team which investigated the future of the LMT. It will be noted that all members of the task team, except Dr Bredell, argued in favour of the transformation of the LMT to make it compatible with the present constitutional arrangement and to make the LMT more effective and efficient.

8.2 I submit finally that the LMT, transformed in to some kind of black empowerment entity will be relevant and compatible to the present government policy.

8.3 It is my understanding that the beneficiaries of the LMT are in favour of the inclusion of the former Venda, Gazankulu areas in to some broad Northern Province black empowerment trust. The government has now lately for an example committed about YC4 million for the upgrading of the Union buildings. LDC and GDC have been transformed into the N~DC and not abolished.


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