Southern Africa: Communities and activists expose corporate abuse at the Permanent People´s Tribunal

When Helena Terra heard that ProSavana, a giant agribusiness project proposed for northern Mozambique would be presented for “judgment” at the Permanent People´s Tribunal in South Africa, she was convinced that their struggle against the project was gaining momentum.

From central Zambezia province Helena was one of the four peasant leaders from the Peasant´s Union of Mozambique, UNAC that exposed to a panel of eight jurors and an audience of almost 200 participants, the threats that ProSavana represents to small-scale farmers and food sovereignty in their region, the Nacala Corridor.

“ProSavana should be stopped because is a threat to our traditional farming systems, our local knowledge and our social harmony”, denounced Costa Estevão, one of the complainant peasants.

Like ProSavana, six other cases of corporate abuse in Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania and Zambia will be presented at the second session of hearings of the Permanent People´s Tribunal that is taking place from 17th to 18th August, at the Old Women’s Jail at Constitution Hill, a former prison complex that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past. The first session was held in 2016 in Manzini, Swaziland, where seven communities and movements from Southern African region gave testimony to the violations of their human rights, environmental rights and the Right to Say No.

The cases presented at the first day of the second session, included one in which an Australian mining giant, World Titane Holdings is threatening the livelihoods of indigenous communities of various villages and continuity of the Mikea ancient forest. A representative of the threatened community said that often national governments are allied to the transnational corporations to the detriment of local population. “The Ministry of Mines spoke to the media to defend the company and say that we are just crazy people who don’t know how important mining is and how important this company can be for the development of Madagascar.” She went on to say that it is known that World Titane Holdings is registered in a tax heaven in Mauritius to avoid paying tax in Madagascar.

(This is the excerpt of an article published by Boaventura Monjane and and Marie Hagensen in Pambazuka. Read the full version here)