A view of the proposed Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone MMSEZ) from Hazel Shirinda, MsC Candidate In Environmental Science and Environmental Activist in Limpopo Province

By Hazel Shirinda

As part of Limpopo province community, how do I see the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone and its effects on my community and others in Limpopo province? 

The MMSEZ is located some +100km from my town (Malamulele). The activities of the project will affect me and my community both directly and indirectly. While we get water from a dam called Nandoni, our water sources will most likely not be affected by the activities of the project in the short term. It remains to be seen how the MMSEZ could leech aquifers in the region. Many of the people from the villages surrounding mine (well including, my village) work in some of the farms that will potentially be affected by the project and the water crisis. So, this implies potential job losses in the long run when the water challenge really starts to kick in, which will most likely be in a couple of years after the project’s initial operations. It is very likely that the beginning stages of the MMSEZs operations will rely on underground aquifers, while other options are tried to resolve the chronic water shortages issues the MMSEZ operations will raise

What bothers me the most about the MMSEZ? Environmental concerns.

My main concern, as an Environmental Scientist, is the environmental concern that comes with the project. The Limpopo valley is a very rich place with a lot of native fauna and flora that are highly valued by the locals. Now for the commencement of the project, around 109 000 baobab trees will be uprooted and moved to a new designated location. This to me is very concerning, coupled with the fact that many animals will be relocated also, thereby disrupting ecosystems services and functioning.

Limpopo struggles economically. The MMSEZ has been marketed as an opportunity for

Killing the Holy Ghost: Inside the unlawful bid for environmental approval of the Musina-Makhado SEZ

By Kevin Bloom

On 1 September 2020, the draft environmental impact assessment for the R145bn Musina-Makhado SEZ was released for public comment. What followed, given the absolute devastation that the project would visit on the Limpopo River basin, were delays and about-turns that often verged on the unlawful. But on 19 May 2021, the local implementing agents for the China-backed initiative may have crossed the point of no-return — a high court review is almost certain, it now seems, with the law as clear as day.

(For more in the Killing the Holy Ghost series, read Kevin Bloom’s three investigative features here, here and here, and Brandon Abdinor’s report on the draft environmental impact assessment here.)

On the morning of 15 March 2021, in among the thousands of virtual meetings that were happening across South Africa, there was one in particular that underlined the hopeless banality of human-induced ecosystem collapse. The humans in question had logged on to discuss a range of acronyms that made sense mainly to them, but which to an outsider would have been essential to an understanding of the broader picture of ruin. In order of importance, those acronyms were as follows:

MMSEZ: The Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, a proposed China-funded 8,000ha metallurgical cluster in the baobab-laden Limpopo River Valley, which would be powered by its own 3,000MW coal-fired plant, draw water from drought- and famine-stricken Zimbabwe, and generally lay waste to the transnational ecosystems upon which millions of livelihoods depended.

LEDET: The Limpopo provincial government’s Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, which, instead of Minister Barbara Creecy’s national department — as befitted a R145-billion project backed by some of the largest industrial conglomerates in the People’s Republic, including Shenzhen Hoi Mor, the Power Construction …



The Limpopo Economic Development Agency proposes to establish a Special Economic Zone with Metallurgical Cluster between Musina and Makhado, therefore, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has thus been undertaken according to the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2014 (as amended) and in terms of Section 24 (5) of the National Environmental Management Act (Act No. 107 of 1998). The Scoping Phase of the project was successfully completed and accepted by LEDET on 30 May 2019 and was followed by an impact assessment of issues identified during scoping. An Environmental Impact Assessment Report has been compiled.


As part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public participation process, you are invited to review the draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report. This report includes the public participation and impact assessment carried out during the EIA phase of the project; the report also includes proposed mitigation measures for potential impacts identified during the study. A draft Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) accompanies this draft report.  The report will be available for review from 1 September 2020 to 22 October 2020 at the following public places:

Musina Municipal Office21 Irwin Street, Musina
Makhado Municipal Office83 Krogh Street, Louis Trichardt
Mulambwane CPAR525 at Lekkerlag
Delta Built Environment Consultants OfficesRynlal Building 320 The Hillside Road, Lynnwood, Pretoria
Delta Built Environment Consultants websitewww.deltabec.com
Limpopo Economy Development Agency websitewww.lieda.co.za

Please submit your written comments on this draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report by no later than…

Rethinking BRICS and China’s Role in the challenging global geopolitical context

The BRICS Policy Centre, Rio, together with Action Aid India and South Africa, recently spent two days deliberating on the theme: “Rethinking BRICS and China’s Role in the challenging global geopolitical context”. Lisa Thompson on behalf of ACCEDE, School of Government, UWC, presented on the topic of New Forms of Aid to Africa, a case of BRICS investment in Special Economic Zones. The symposium participants also spent some time deliberating the BRICS Summit, 2019, to be held in Brazil.

More information on the BRICS Policy Centre can be found by following the BPC.
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