Patrick Bond Discusses the Infrastructure Development Bill Hearings
Patrick Bond, author of Politics of Climate Justice, has written a column for Pambazuka News on the recent Infrastructure Development Bill hearings, which “could give fast-track approvals for mines, oil pipelines and refineries, coal-fired power plants, ports, and new airports”.
Bond wonders whether the mention of improvements to access to water, sanitation, clinics and schools was “snuck in to make the mega-project bias more palatable”?
He stresses that these two types of development cannot be seen in the same light. The latter “needs a new sense of urgency”, while Bond is critical of the Mineral-Energy Complex’s fast-track projects.
What we academics often term South Africa’s ‘Minerals-Energy Complex‘ (MEC) keeps getting away with murder, including economic strangulation. As just one example, in spite of a recent trade surplus, the balance of payments is going into extreme deficit largely because MEC multinational mining houses – especially BHP Billiton, Anglo, DeBeers, Lonmin and Glencore – vacuum out profits to their London and Melbourne financial headquarters. This leaves SA basking not in BRICS prosperity but instead leading the slide of the ‘Fragile Five’: big emerging markets suffering vast capital outflows. Witness the Rand’s crash by a third last year.
Yet the overwhelming bulk of taxpayer subsidies to the MEC will amplify this crisis, via the National Development Plan’s two main Strategic Infrastructure Projects: the Waterberg-Richards Bay coal export rail-line and the Durban port-petrochemical expansion, which are likely to consume far more than the roughly R500 billion now budgeted.