Join us for the next SWOP Lunch Break, presented by Lesego Loate

Hidden in the bowels of the Highveld is the coal that powers the mines, factories, industries and cities integral to the mineral-energy complex (MEC) political economy of South Africa. Delmas, on the Witbank coalfield, is abundant in these coal deposits. Mine dumps scar the area’s picturesque rural landscape of wetlands, rivers and farms, hinting at the varied, competing water users and “water struggles” these have generated. At a superficial level, these struggles seem to be over pollution and damage to water bodies. The substantive issue, however, is the function and praxis of water regulation as another form of state-capital cooperation, a key feature of the MEC. With attention to the under-studied relationship between water regulation and water struggles, this seminar argues the normalisation of water scarcity in Delmas is a consequence of state-capital collaboration ordering the water use of coal mines in Delmas in support of the MEC.