Cape winegrowers are outraged at a bizarre development in the situation regarding mineral prospecting - which it now appears will go ahead.
Recent announcements from the government Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) made it clear that the state-owned African Exploration Mining and Finance Company (AEMFC) had withdrawn plans to prospect for minerals in the Cape.
The announcements, which ‘delighted’ Cape and Stellenbosch residents and winegrowers, were internationally reported, including on decanter.com.
Now – to the fury of a dozen interest groups – AEMFC’s consultants have confirmed that despite assurances given to the press by AEMFC chairman Mputumi Damane, the application process for prospecting rights is going ahead as planned.
‘The Winelands Action Group is outraged by the about-turn…regarding the withdrawal of prospecting rights in the Cape winelands,’ a statement said.
The Group, a coalition which includes the Cape Winemakers Guild, Wines of South Africa (WoSA), farmworker forums, Worldwide Fund for Nature and several other bodies, is accusing AEMFC of either ‘bureaucratic bungling’ or deliberately giving false information.
‘An untenable situation has developed where either the employees and consultants of AEMFC have deliberately gone against the chairman’s public statements, or else there was a deliberate attempt by AEMFC to distract both the media and the public … by informing them of the application withdrawal, but then still continuing with the process hoping there would be no comments received by the objectors.’
Gary Jordan of Jordan Wines, chair of the Winelands Action Group, said, ‘Whilst we all were under the impression that sanity had prevailed, AEMFC has continued with its applications.’
The Group has called on the chairman of AEMFC to withdraw the plans and to clarify the situation.
It is also calling on DME director-general Sandile Nobxina to ‘step in and put an end to this farcical situation.’
It has not been possible to contact the Department of Minerals and Energy.
A Facebook page – Stop Mining Our Winelands – has some 3000 comments.
The Winelands Action Group contact is Gary Jordan of Jordan Wines.
Written by Adam Lechmere