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The South African Chamber Of Mines Seeks To Preserve The Status Quo

The Mining Charter was developed as a South African mining and minerals industry guide to effect transformation with respect to its specific targets.

09/11/2017 04:58 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters
South Africa's Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

The South African mining and minerals industry has been inundated with animosity since the Broad-Based Black Socio-Economic Empowerment Charter For The South African Mining And Minerals Industry was gazetted by the South African Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, in June 2017.

Since then, there has been public dissent between the industry –– in the form of the South African Chamber of Mines that represents 90 percent of South African mining companies –– and Zwane on this third review of the Mining Charter.

This led to the Chamber of Mines seeking an urgent court interdict to prevent the implementation of the reviewed Mining Charter. They subsequently withdrew it, following Zwane's commitment to halting the implementation of the reviewed charter, pending judgment on the Chamber of Mines' review application, set to be heard on 13 and 14 December in the North Gauteng High Court.

While sympathetic, to an extent, with some of the sentiments and grievances put forward by the Chamber of Mines in relation to the content of the reviewed charter, as well as Zwane's overall controversial conduct in office, the fault is not all on one side.

One can't ignore the fact that the Chamber of Mines has maintained its lacklustre demeanour in exercising its strategic-support and advisory roles towards its member companies, in order to realise South Africa's constitutional transformative trajectory in the white exploitative mining and minerals industry.

The Chamber of Mines has continuously, throughout past years, demonstrated its toxic allegiance to defending member companies' ferocious anti-black conduct, contrary to their liberal transformation policies, in the name of crystallising capitalist industry standpoints.

One therefore finds immense difficulty in thoroughly appreciating the Chamber of Mines' ardent denunciation of the reviewed Mining Charter, knowing their adverse stance on government's objectives of redressing historical and socioeconomic inequalities in the mining and minerals industry.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Miners take a break in a waiting area deep underground at Sibanye Gold's Masimthembe shaft in Westonaria, South Africa, April 3, 2017.

In this South African democratic dispensation, the current trajectory seeks to address the systematic marginalisation of previously disadvantaged South Africans who, under the apartheid regime, were subjects of exclusionary policies which barred the black South African majority from owning the means of production and engaging in meaningful participation in the mainstream economy.

Accordingly, to realise democratic South Africa's objectives of redressing historical and socioeconomic inequalities and ensuring meaningful participation of black people in the mining and minerals industry, the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA), was promulgated in line with Section 9 (Equality Clause) of the Constitution. In accordance with the MPRDA, the Mining Charter was developed as a South African mining and minerals industry guide to effect transformation.

I am sensitive to the fact that the Chamber of Mines is essentially calling for the total scrapping of the reviewed third charter. This is evident in their 274-page founding affidavit submitted to the North Gauteng High Court by the Chamber of Mines' Senior Executive of Public Affairs and Transformation, Tebello Laphatsoana Chabana.

In seeking an urgent court interdict on the implementation of the reviewed third charter, the Chamber of Mines unnecessarily burdens the courts with a lengthy affidavit that seeks to challenge the "confusing, confused and contradictory" content and implementation plans set out in the new charter. The contentious content of the charter is available, having been extensively analysed by a plethora of media publications.

My intention is not to construct the same scaffold, because as I stated earlier, I agree to an extent with some of the grievances put forward by the Chamber of Mines regarding the content of the reviewed charter, as well as Zwane's controversial conduct.

However, such agreement only extends to the unlawful revision of Parliament's definition of who may benefit from the provisions of the charter, his unlawful exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction that usurped the powers of the Minister of Finance in imposing a 1 percent minimum contribution on foreign companies' annual turnover generated from local mining towards the Mining Transformation and Development Agency, and the Minister's failure to consult stakeholders, including those in labour, mining communities and the mining and minerals industry itself.

The Chamber of Mines will never see any positive step in any plans that seek to address the marginalisation of the black South African majority.

I also hold the view that Zwane is captured by the Gupta mafia, and so he seeks, through the new charter, to open a new channel that will allow him and his cronies to loot the country's mineral wealth, which should be transferred through the nationalisation of mines to benefit communities, eradicate poverty and contribute towards building our infrastructure.

The current ANC government continues to create ineffective neoliberal policies that only further enrich the few black stooges and gatekeepers of White Monopoly Capital, to the detriment of the suffering black South African majority that put it into power.

The Chamber of Mines will never see any positive step in any plans that seek to address the marginalisation of the black South African majority; they will never see any positive steps in the inclusion of the majority of our people in the beneficiation of the country's mineral wealth, because they represent the racist capitalist mining and minerals industry which the ANC left untouched in our transition into this democratic dispensation.

It is, therefore, the duty of the courts to discard the ANC's reviewed charter on the basis that it essentially contains unlawful provisions which amount to regulatory overreach. Other than that, the Chamber of Mines' approach to court seeks to preserve the racist status quo in the mining and minerals industry, for it is wholly opposed to the country's transformation trajectory.