f irst t wo months of his appointment in May, he took the unusual step of intervening in the platinum strike and then, only weeks later, announced he would ask that important amendments to the Mineral & Petroleum Resources Development Act ( MPRDA) be referred back to Parliament because they were not investor-friendly enough. President Jacob Zuma heeded the call and referred the amendments to the National Assembly. He then said in a letter to Parliament that the proposed amendments were unconstitutional, potentially i n breach of South Africa’s international trade agreements and gave too much discretion to the minister.
The last point is astonishing, and worrying, because ministerial discretion was the guiding
principle of the amendments. Zuma’s letter therefore suggests that the amendments could be changed, which will be a concern for the Chamber of Mines bearing in mind that Ramatlhodi’s reasons for returning the bill was to create separate laws for the oil and gas sector. The chamber lauded Ramatlhodi because the hard-won compromises which the chamber said it had extracted in the amendments would not be tampered with, whereas Zuma’s letter would suggest the opposite.
There was concern in the mining sector when Ramatlhodi was f i rst appointed because he was viewed as a nationalist who would increase state i nvolvement i n t he mining sector. However, the evidence of his words suggests that is not quite the case. Not yet.
Hanré Rossouw, head of resources: f r ont i e r a nd e merging markets for Investec Securities, sa i d t hat Ramatlhodi had brought some order to the portfolio where previously the environment tended towards confusion. “He is definitely more process-driven and seems to have a better appreciation of the mining charter,” said Rossouw, who added that Ramatlhodi’s legal training is a factor.
Ramatlhodi’s predecessor, Susan Shabangu, who is now the minister of women’s affairs, was more of a “streetf ighter,” he said. Shabangu was also a trade unionist to whom verbal follies were part of her modus operandi.
Whi l e the referra l of the amendments has received a lot of press, and will continue to be picked over in the coming weeks and months, Ramatlhodi’s recent comments about the creation of a national champion in the mining sector have received less attention.
Speaking to investors in London, Ramatlhodi said t hat with Anglo