Making money, not sense

I mentioned in a previous thread that South Africa’s Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape is under threat from a coal mining application. This week, the fight intensified to stop construction of an opencast and underground mine just six kilometres from the boundary of the Mapungubwe National Park with a host of non-governmental organisations appealing against developments in the process, including the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Birdlife, the Peace Parks Foundation, the Association of South African Professional Archaeologists, the Mapungubwe Action Group and the Wilderness Foundation South Africa.

Australian-based Coal of Africa Limited (CoAL) was recently granted the go-ahead to commence with the construction of the coal mine yet serious questions are being asked about the integrity and validity of the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) submitted by CoAL. The appeal details many specific concerns with the EMP, particularly how it misrepresents the consequences of mining in the area. Take a look for yourself, even to an untrained eye it is clear to see which side of the EMP’s bread is buttered.

I hope that I am wrong but I can’t help but feel this is all too little too late however. The load shedding which has afflicted South Africa in recent years has been due to a serious shortage in the country’s electricity supply. Desperate to avoid a repeat of such a ridiculous, embarrassing and shambolic situation in the future, the government was never likely to turn down a coal mining application with stocks running so low. The crippling transport strike which has damaged South Africa’s industries recently has also affected coal exports, mainly to India and China. With the government struggling to hit its coal export targets and pay for the country’s pre-world cup face-lift, the promise of a shiny new coal mine was never likely to be ignored.

The moral of the story? Never forget where you’ve come from. Mapungubwe is rightly celebrated as a great Southern African civilisation, the very place where kingdomship started in Southern Africa and a state that had vast trading links to East Africa and the Arab world. How ironic that it is the country’s modern day trade links that threaten to destroy and devalue that legacy.

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