The Batlhaping restitution claim in the Northern Cape was resolved administratively through Section 42D of the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994. The Settlement Agreement signed on 8 April 2000 restored 34,114 ha to the Schmidtsdrift community (the joint Batlhaping and Klein Fonteintjie communities) and was approved by the CRLR, the Minister of Land Affairs, the Minister of Public Works, the Minister of Defence, the Premier of the Northern Cape, the Schmidtsdrift Interim CPA (which at the time was still to be registered) and the !Xhu and Khwe! communities (who were awaiting relocation). The claimant community consists of approximately 800 households (identified and verified) of which approximately 200 households were living in Schmidtsdrift in 2006/early 2007. The rest of the community members are scattered across Kuruman, Douglas, Campbell and Kimberley. Since that time there have been a number of planning processes which have resulted in the following activities currently taking place on the land:

  • There are a total of five settlement areas with the formal plans for two areas, and processes in place to establish these as a formal township under the jurisdiction of the local municipality.
  • A joint venture company (jointly owned by the CPA and New African Mining) is mining diamonds on a section of the land. There are also proposals for members of the Garamatale Small Miners Association to undertake mining in a separate venture on a portion of land earmarked for community mining.
  • Community members are farming individually with livestock 
  • A game farm is in the final stages of being established remnants of a previous game farm still exist on a different section of the farm.
  • The property has been allocated a 180 ha of water rights from the Vaal catchment. 

There is therefore a complex array of activities, which all require rights and benefit sharing arrangements that the owners of the land have to manage and ensure coordination between. While a number of the activities identified above have been planned and are in varying stages of implementation, there is currently no overarching plan to coordinate the different activities which will enable the CPA to manage its affairs as a whole.

The current CPA Committee was elected in February 2007. The Regional Land Claims Commission based in Kimberley identified the need for an overarching plan to:

  • clarify the relationship between different land uses and enterprises on the land together with the determination of individual rights and benefits related to each land use;
  • specify the related institutional and management requirements;
  • identify the skills needed for community and enterprise management;
  • put in place a process to build the skills that are required.

Phuhlisani started working intensively in August 2008 to develop an overarching plan, identify and resolve conflicts among the beneficiaries and develop local management capacity.

Lonrho mining manager explains operations
Lonrho mining manager explains operations
Excavations exposing alluvial gravel
Excavations exposing alluvial gravel
Dwelling in Site 4
Dwelling in Site 4
Enumerators prepare to conduct member census
Enumerators prepare to conduct member census
Cattle post
Cattle post
The Vaal
The Vaal

September 2008

Phuhlisani has convened focus groups with people living onsite in the different residential areas and run workshops with people who are beneficiaries but who continue to live in Kuruman, Kimberley, Douglas, Campbell and other towns in the Northern Cape. These workshops are examining people's pereceptions of their individual rights, benefits and obligations together with their assessment of potential livelihood and development opportunities.

Our work to date has highlighted a range of factors which need to be addressed before development can go ahead in Schmidtsdrift. These include:

  • lack of clarity about membership, individual rights, benefits and obligations of members of the Communal Property Association who live on and and off site;
  • a variety of unresolved conflicts within the claimant community which need to be mediated and sustainable solutions identified;
  • low levels of institutional capacity given the complexity and scale of the management requirements required by the project.

At the same time we have initiated a mediation process which has enabled the different parties in dispute to clarify their positions and move towards a negotiated agreement which will address their concerns. The mediation highlighted the need to develop a new constitution top clarify members' rights, benefits and obligations.

Phuhlisani has also developed a proposal to enable the CPA to obtain intensive management support in the future.

October 2008

Phuhlisani has now completed an in-depth assessment of the situation at Schmidtsdrift. We recently initiated a mediation begin to address conflict between rights holders at Schmidtsdrift and to begin to develop the key components of a new Constitution which will enable Constituency based respresentation and decentralised land and natural resource management.

It has become clear that there has been widespread ecological damage at Schmidtsdrift as a result of mining. Currently the best agaricultural resources and grazing are systematically being destroyed by mining activity. Graves and other other heritage resources have also been destroyed or disturbed. Although the CPA has been allocated 180 ha of water rights there is currently no portion of irrigable land which is not under threat from mining. Once mined and rehabilitated land cannot be used for irrigation purposes for between 10 and 15 years. This raises serious questions about the rights of those to whom the land has been restored. Currently the carrying capacity of Schmidtsdrift is declining, something which a 5% share of mining revenue does not begin to compensate for. So what are the responsibilities of government and the mining houses in this regard? This is a question to which Phuhlisani is currently seeking an answer.

Phuhlisani is currently undertaking a census of all the rightsholders and their dependents at Schmidtsdrift. The census is being carried out by local people who have had basic  enumerator training. The data will provide essential information to the CPA to enable it to carry out its land rights management functioin more effectively.

6 February 2009

Phuhlisani is currently involved in an intensive period of work at Schmidtsdrift which includes:

  • the appointment of a conciliator with powers of arbitration to resolve long standing disputes at Schmidtsdrift
  • the development of a new draft Constitution for the CPA which clarifies the rights, responsibilities and benefits of members and enables good governance of the Association
  • completion of plans to maximise agricultural potential and enable the development of community mining
  • development of policies and procedures to strengthen the management of the CPA
  • preparations for an Annual General Meeting of the Association

A recent four day workshop at Schmidtsdrift hammered out the draft of a new Constitution. The workshop was attended by members of the CPA Executive Committee, community elders, representatives of women and youth structures, people involved in agriculture, representatives of the Batlhaping Trust and the Garamatale Small Miners Association. The draft Constitution has been sent for legal checking and will soon be translated in Setswana and distributed to membership structures.

At the same the deal between Lonrho and New African Mining to sell Lonrho's stake in Schmidtsdrift Mining Enterprises fell through and Lonrho has gone into liquidation. Phuhlisani is providing support to the CPA to try and ensure that royalties owed to the community by Lonrho will be regarded as a priority by the liquidators.

16th April 2009

Phuhlisani has now completed project plans for agriculture, game and community mining. We have worked with the members of the Schmidtsdrift CPA to develop a new Constitution which was recently discussed at a well attended two day Special General Meeting held on the 28th and 29th March.

Plans are now underway to hold an Annual General Meeting on the 23rd and 24th May which will formally adopt the new Constitution and elect members to a new look 16 member Management Committee with dedicated portfolios and functions. The AGM will also formally adopt the plans.

Schmidtsdrift will now be better positioned to meet the challenges which lie ahead. Members will soon start the process for nominating members as candidates for election to different portfolios. Prospective candidates will be publicly screened prior to the elections. Thereafter Phuhlisani will run an induction and orientation programme for the new Committee to enable it to begin its management tasks

Posted: 5/31/2008 (3:43:30 PM)

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