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Complaint to the World Bank's Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman

DATE: 06 Jul 2015

Working with the Johannesburg-based Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Toby Fisher has drafted a complaint to the Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank, on behalf of the Women of Marikana. The complaint relates to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC’s) investment in Lonmin plc, a UK listed mining company operating exclusively in South Africa.

The IFC is the World Bank’s private sector investment arm. In 2007, it commenced a $50m investment in Lonmin in return for an equity stake. The funds were earmarked, in large part, for Lonmin’s Local Economic Development Programme and the fulfilment of its legally binding commitments to secure local community upliftment. At the time of the investment, the IFC announced it would act as an exemplar for sustainable social development across the African continent. Lonmin’s CEO Brad Mills said that - with the support of the IFC funds - Lonmin would ensure that those living near the mine were made “comfortably middle class”.

More than seven years after the commencement of IFC funding, living conditions for the communities around the Marikana mine are dire. Both the air and groundwater are polluted by the activities of the mine.  For many, there is no running water, no proper housing, no proper sanitation, no proper roads.

The complaint alleges that Lonmin failed to comply with the social and environmental conditions attached to the IFC’s investment and the IFC failed completely to enforce those conditions.

The complaint asks the World Bank’s complaints body, the CAO, to launch a compliance investigation into the IFC’s investment in Lonmin, and to facilitate a dispute resolution process between community members, the IFC and Lonmin in order to find a solution befitting the human dignity of Marikana community members. 

Toby Fisher was instructed by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies to draft the complaint. He is also instructed to advise the Women of Marikana in relation to any dispute resolution process that may follow.