Op­po­nents of Min­ing Char­ter ‘are against trans­for­ma­tion’

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS NEWS - Di­neo Faku

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.

Tar­gets

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.

PHOTO: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI

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.

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