28/02/2018 06:38 SAST | Updated 28/02/2018 06:38 SAST

Industry, NUM Welcomes Mantashe's Appointment But Amcu Calls Him 'Conflicted'

Mantashe is well-liked in the industry and has political currency, experts say.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe's appointed as mineral resources minister has been praised by the industry, although the unions are not unanimously happy about it, Fin24 reported. Industry experts and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have welcomed Mantashe's appointment, but the Association of Mineworkers and Construction (Amcu) has raised concerns that Mantashe is biased against them.

Mantashe replaced Mosebenzi Zwane as mining minister during President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle on Monday.

The NUM said all stakeholders in the industry had problems with Zwane. It said it would support Mantashe, adding that the union did not want "any favours" from him, as he should "do everything within the laws of this country".

Peter Leon, co-chair and partner of Herbert Smith Freehills, told Fin24 that Mantashe would have to urgently prioritise policy.

"If South Africa wishes to move out of the bottom league of African mining countries, it will have to reset the direction of its mineral regulatory regime," Leon said.

Peter Major, director of mining at Cadiz Corporate Solutions, reportedly said Mantashe was an "interesting", but ultimately good choice.

Other experts said Mantashe was well-liked by the industry and had political currency.

Amcu reportedly said Mantashe was "conflicted" because of his involvement in the events leading up to the Marikana massacre, according to The Citizen. It said that it was pointed out during the Farlam Commission that Mantashe was part of a "clear agenda to destabilise Amcu" in the days leading up to the massacre, "with his open loyalty to his former trade union, the NUM".

"Even though Amcu welcomes the replacement of the Gupta-linked former Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister Mantashe comes with his own skeletons in the closet. It is clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa does not fully comprehend that Minister Mantashe is seriously conflicted when it comes to the mining sector," Amcu said.

Amcu is also worried about the relationship between Ramaphosa and Mantashe, according to Amcu president Joseph Matunjwa, as they are both former NUM leaders.

The Chamber of Mines welcomed his appointment.

According to Mining Review, the Chamber said: "He is a person with whom our industry has long held a constructive and respectful relationship. He is an extremely tough negotiator, demonstrated both during his time as general secretary of the NUM and in his subsequent political positions. We look forward to the many engagements with him that doubtless lie ahead."