As we've all been watching my home country tear itself apart, I'm trying to keep busy in my adopted home country. I am likely a third of the way through this latest reporting stint, so it's time to check in on my progress.
This time around, I began expanding my multimedia skill set with some (still a tad rough) podcasts to accompany my work on Oxpeckers. Expect a few more attempts before my time here is done. Also, I am working toward short video pieces for my longer investigations. More to come on that front.
Most significantly, I am finally digging into the documents to which the Department of Mineral Resources granted me access at the end of last year. Check out The Star newspaper (and its website: www.iol.co.za) next week for details from that investigation. Although my analysis of the information is still in its infancy, what will appear in this upcoming story will be the first time this information has seen the light of day on any public platform in South Africa. My major roadblock through this first phase of my work has been the Department's unwillingness to release the rest of the information to which I was legally granted full access. I have been fighting this and will keep fighting until I receive it. My hope is to publish longer features off that information in the next third of my reporting.
The below list includes stories that are either already published or completed and about to be published. Here are some of the questions I have been trying to answer:
Oxpeckers Center for Investigative Environmental Journalism
--How does the potential for seabed strip mining impact a recent shift toward developing a sustainable marine-based economy? http://oxpeckers.org/2016/11/3345/
--Would the South African government really allow mining in extraordinarily important, water-producing areas during a drought? http://oxpeckers.org/2016/10/3269/
--Why is it so difficult for communities to successfully organize in opposition to mining? http://oxpeckers.org/2016/09/3137/
Inter Press Service
--Who benefits from allowing coal mining underneath protected wetlands? http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/10/amid-south-africas-drought-proposed-mine-raises-fears-of-wetlands-impact/
--(Soon to publish) Is there any country in the world that will allow offshore phosphate mining?
--(In above photo) How has historic mining facilitated sinkhole formation, and how will impending mine abandonment affect the issue?
--(Soon to publish) Are there specific mining companies flaunting the laws governing mine closure, and is the system broken nationwide?
The Africa Report
--(In above photo) Coming from my past investigation into Malawi's competing interests of hydropower and irrigation, which has the upper hand?
--(Soon to publish) What market forces helped create a zama zama-based industry, and is there any way to regulate this black market force?
Next up on the docket, I plan to focus on several larger threads: rehabilitation funds and closure certificates, corruption in the coal-to-energy complex, and the manner in which Western mining companies obtain mining rights in South Africa. I also have fascinating leads from whistleblowers and activists, and you can bet I will be tracking those down.
Recent developments in South African politics -- namely the finance minister fighting a shadow war with the influential Gupta family and the former public protector taking on state corruption -- have had a beautiful side effect of making new documents public. This, too, will play into the next step of my work.
As always, thanks for reading, keeping watching this space, and let's try to not rip up the Paris Climate Agreement.