Johannesburg – Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane’s Mining Charter was just an effort to score political points, said Joseph Mathunjwa.
The president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) was speaking at the Business Day Dialogue Breakfast to commemorate the fifth Marikana anniversary on Friday. He was joined by Lonmin Chief Executive Ben Magara who explained that the Chamber of Mines issue with the charter is that there was no consultation between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and stakeholders.
“It is code of good practice to consult with stakeholders and to set up a timeframe to achieve [goals],” said Mathunjwa. “The minister used the process for political reasons, to score political points around it.”
Mathunjwa said that AMCU supported the charter, but at the end of the day it is not legislation to carry out action against mining companies.
Magara said that Lonmin is committed to transformation and that more needs to be done in the sector. Transformation can only be achieved when all stakeholders work together, but that is currently not the case. “We could do so much together... as adversaries we will not win.”
He explained that the DMR could have handled the consultation process better. Magara said that the industry is not entirely against the charter, there are elements that are “workable”, however others are not. For example, requiring 1% of the revenue from a loss-making mine is a “big cost”. “That 1% is possibly 5% of employment lost,” he said.
He called for consultation to bring an end to the “war” with pen and paper.
Risking more jobs
Mathunjwa agreed that the timing of the charter’s release could cost more jobs. He queried why the government was being “loud” at a time when the economy is underperforming. “Pushing the issue of the charter is risking more jobs. The timing of the minister is not right.”
He recalled a time when former Mines Minister Ngoaka Ramatlhodi was removed from the DMR when he threatened to remove licences from mines. “Now this gentleman [Zwane] comes with a charter which does not have teeth.” Mathunjwa said this action was just agitating the economy and markets.
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Changing the situation in the mining sector requires the system to change as the current one is not working. This starts with addressing the structure of the economy, he explained.
Secondly, Muthunjwa said the electoral system should change. “If it continues as it is, the electoral system has to change. If it continues as it is, it will just be an oligarchy.”
“If you are doing bad things, we cannot move you if your party is the majority,” he explained. Mathunjwa went on to say that the junk status has not been necessarily brought on by labour issues, but government. “Give power to the people. Let the people elect their leaders,” he said.
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