JOHANNESBURG – Xolobeni youths have distanced themselves from the Amadiba Crisis Committee's (ACC's) announcement that mineral resources minister, Gwede Mantashe, was not welcome at the volatile Eastern Cape village.
On Tuesday the ACC reiterated that Mantashe was not welcome in Xolobeni after the minister announced that he would be making a third attempt to visit the community in the Eastern Cape next week Wednesday.
The Xolobeni community has been at loggerheads with the department while waging a 15-year long battle against the issuing of a mining license to Transworld Energy and Minerals (TEM), a subsidiary of Australian mining company MRC.
The company wants to mine titanium in the area inhabited by the Xolobeni community in the Wild Coast area.
In a statement, Xholobeni Youth For Sustainable Development said it firmly supports development. The youths said they aspire to be champions of poverty eradication. They said anyone who talks the language of development was free to enter their community.
"The minister and all other people who pursue development agenda are welcome. We have gathered a database and we have discovered that the majority of the youth have skills but no jobs, this is due to the impression created by ACC that Xholobeni community does not want development.
"We, Xholobeni Youth For Sustainable Development are open to engagement with every potential investor and government. We are not surprised by the fact that ACC rejects any potential development opportunity, because distracting development is an employment opportunity to ACC as they are getting funded to oppose."
In December, ACC said Mantashe was no longer welcome in the community after the minister requested leave to appeal the court's judgement for the community's right to say no to mining in their area.
The community scored a major victory in November after the High Court in Pretoria ruled that in terms of the interim protection of informal land rights Act, the minister of mineral resources may not grant mining rights without the consent of the community and the people directly affected by that mining right.
Mantashe requested leave to appeal the ruling on 13 December.
Concerned community memeDimane Mfundo, another concerned community member, said they were concerned that a certain group of people have told Mantashe not to visit Xholobeni next week.
"This is unfortunate and regrettable. The majority of the people of Xholobeni and Amadiba community are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the minister on the date in question," Mfundo said.
"We wish to advise the minister that we exercising our democratic right to request his presence, we have even instructed our attorneys to write an official letter inviting him. Anything to the contrary does not represent the majority view of the people on the ground."