Former Anglo head worries about SA

2014-04-27 15:00

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Although he left the mining industry in 2009, when he departed from his role as head of Anglo American SA, Kuseni Dlamini is worried about the current crisis in the mining industry.

He said since his time in the industry, the relationship between the mining industry, labour and government has taken a significant nosedive.

“We need a certain level of maturity to be demonstrated that is going to put the needs of the country first above narrow, sectional interests and a desire to be the winner or to appear first among your equals,” he said.

He was referring to the bruising three-month strike that has held up operations on the platinum Belt.

The strike is being staged by 70?000 workers belonging to the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which is calling for a R12?500 basic salary for mine workers. Affected producers include Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin.

“Going on strike is not an unusual thing, it is normal for all economies, but to have a strike that lasts for close to three months is really unacceptable. It is not only the platinum belt that is

affected but the entire mining industry and the economy as a whole from a global view of investor perceptions into South African mining.

“The us-and-them attitude that we are seeing is not helpful and nobody is going to emerge as a winner. South Africa comes out as the loser,” Dlamini added.

He believes the current strike action is symptomatic of the mistrust between labour and business, and suggested one way to build trust between the two was to start having union members on the boards of mining companies.

“We can get trade union representatives to sit on the mining industry boards so they understand the true plight of the Rustenburg shafts and [have] the real challenges they are facing understood by union leaders so they make reasonable demands.”

He likened it to the German motor industry. “In the 90s when the auto industry in Germany was facing problems because of market conditions, the workers were willing to take a salary cut in order to preserve their jobs until the company was back on its feet and they could pay decent wages.”

These days, Dlamini runs his own investment company, KDI Holdings, but is also a director on many boards. Most recently, he was appointed chairperson of retailer Massmart.

Global retailer Walmart acquired a 53% stake in Massmart in 2010 to much fanfare, but the prices have not come down markedly, as many consumers anticipated.

Dlamini was reluctant to comment on Massmart, saying: “I haven’t even attended my first board meeting!”

He is also chairperson of the Times Media Group (TMG), which owns the Sunday Times, Business Day and Financial Mail.

Under CEO Andrew Bonamour, Dlamini said TMG is diversifying its revenue stream and is looking to the African continent for growth.

TMG bought 60% of KwaZulu-Natal radio station Vuma?FM in January and recently bought 49% of Radio Africa in Kenya. It has sold more traditional entertainment assets such as Nu Metro cinemas and Exclusive Books.

“In first-world markets, newspaper circulation is declining. South Africa as an emerging market has managed to hang on to its newspaper circulation but it’s not guaranteed because South

African consumers are discerning and spoilt for choice. The media industry has to be alive to that and adapt,” said Dlamini.

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