CAO opens new Marikana case

28 September 2015

In July the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO), the accountability mechanism of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank’s private sector arm, found a complaint by women from Marikana in South Africa concerning IFC’s investment in the Lonmin mine eligible for further assessment (see Update 82). In its complaint to the CAO, lawyers representing the women stated that “more than seven years after the commencement of IFC funding … the living conditions of local community members are squalid, housing is appalling, sanitation non-existent, and environmental pollution unacceptable.”

In 2007 the IFC invested $50 million in Lonmin, the world’s third producer of platinum group materials, with $15 million earmarked to support a local development programme. The community’s complaint is the second CAO compliance appraisal of IFC’s investment in Lonmin. The first, which was triggered by the deaths of over 44 miners during strike action at the mine in 2012, was closed in August 2013 (see Bulletin Dec 2013).

In July Aljazeera newspaper reported a lawyer for the women as stating in the complaint to the CAO that “More than seven years after the commencement of IFC funding, living conditions for the communities around the Marikana mine are dire … for many, there is no running water, no proper housing, no proper sanitation, no proper roads.” A local woman is quoted in the complaint describing the living conditions in the community: “When it rains the children do not go to school because they cannot walk in the mud. Walking barefoot in the mud results in cuts from unseen sharp objects in the mud …   this breaks my heart because my children will be left behind educationally.”