03/03/2017 09:14 SAST | Updated 03/03/2017 11:13 SAST

New Mining DG Takes Industry By Surprise

The little-known official from the Free State appears to have no experience in mining.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A pit head is seen at the Tumela Mine , an Anglo American Platinum open pit mine located in the north-western part of South Africa in Thabazimbi, Limpopo on June 9,2016.

A little-known official from the Free State with no experience in mining has been appointed as director-general of the Department of Mineral Resources, Business Day reported on Friday.

Thabo Mokoena is the secretary of the Free State legislature, and reportedly has a law degree.

According to the paper, the department has had no head for a year, and Mokoena's appointment took the industry by surprise. Mokoena reportedly has no mining experience and little management experience.

With Mokoena's appointment, the minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, and the head of mineral regulation, Seipati Dlamini, are all from the Free State.

The Chamber of Mines reportedly said it was taken by surprise by the announcement as it is usually consulted on such appointments.

"Consultation with key stakeholders, such as the Chamber of Mines and other relevant stakeholders, is important before such an announcement is made and as the chamber we have been caught by surprise.

"While the newly appointed director-general is a lawyer by training, there are concerns about the depth of his mining industry knowledge and experience, more so given that the industry has a twin challenge of attracting investments and growing the industry and is also dealing with challenges of transformation and inclusive growth," it reportedly said.

Business Day reported that Mokoena faced allegations of corruption when he served as a municipal manager in the Free State, but he would not comment on these.