Opponents of Mining Charter ‘are against transformation’
MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has defended the 2017 Mining Charter, saying yesterday that those who opposed it were against transformation.
Zwane made his comment barely 24 hours after the Chamber of Mines applied to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to have the implementation of the charter suspended amid concerns that it would threaten the sustainability of the mining industry.
“It is our view that those who support this mining charter support our quest for transformation, and those who are in opposition to the charter are, in fact, opposing the transformation objectives of government, and we stand ready to defend the interests of South Africans in this regard,” Zwane said in a statement.
Zwane, who on Friday postponed an imbizo to promote the charter in Mpumalanga after being interrupted by a rowdy crowd, said that, as was the case with any legislation, it was virtually impossible to please all parties.
“It is unfortunate that the Chamber of Mines has chosen to take this route, but their decision is respected, and the democracy we fought for allows all of us to exercise our rights in this manner. We have confidence in the courts’ ability to act with diligence on this matter,” Zwane said.
The charter raises the black ownership target of mining rights from 26 percent to 30 percent, and sets employee and community share ownerships at 8 percent.
Yesterday, the United Association of South Africa (UASA), a trade union in the mining sector, said it supported the chamber’s court action, because the charter would frighten away existing and future investors in one of the most critical sectors in the economy.
“The last thing South Africa can afford now is to further alienate investors. UASA trusts that the High Court will show the minister the error of his ways,” it said in a statement.
UASA did not attend last week’s meeting of the Mining Industry Development Growth and Employment Task Team (Midgett) called by Zwane.
The Chamber’s application argues that the publication of the 2017 charter was beyond Zwane’s powers.
“That fact that the meeting took place only one hour before a media briefing made it highly conspicuous to us. Midgett, the tripartite stakeholder forum for the industry, has been dormant for 18 months, and last week, out of the blue, Zwane called a last-minute meeting, followed by a media briefing at a mere 24 hours’ notice,” the union said.
It said the meeting was an attempt to lure stakeholders into a situation where they would be expected to rubber-stamp the new charter.
In addition to the urgent court interdict, the chamber, which represents 90 percent of employers in the industry, said on Monday it was planning to have the charter reviewed in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
The chamber said it was fully committed to the transformational objectives of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA).
But it was opposed to the charter, because, if the charter were implemented in its current form, it would “destroy the very industry whose survival is necessary to give effect to the objects of the MPRDA”.
The chamber’s application argues that the publication of the 2017 charter was beyond Zwane’s powers and that in publishing it Zwane had purported to exercise powers that resided exclusively with Parliament.
It charged that he had sought to usurp Parliament’s powers. It also argued that the content of the charter was vague and contradictory.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says it is unfortunate that the Chamber of Mines has asked the High Court to block the 2017 Mining Charter.