Johannesburg - The Chamber of Mines has welcomed the appointment of Gwede Mantashe as South Africa's new minister of mineral resources, calling him a man of integrity and dignity.
In a late night Cabinet reshuffle on Monday, Ramaphosa announced changes in the portfolios of 21 Cabinet posts. His new ministers, including ANC chairperson Mantashe, are set to be sworn in on Tuesday.
The chamber’s comments are a sharp u-turn from the public animosity that existed between the mining body and Mantashe’s predecessor Mosebenzi Zwane. The chamber openly called for Zwane to be replaced, saying its members had lost faith in him and could not work with him.
Zwane and the chamber, which presents represents 90% of South African mining companies, became embroiled in a court battle over the controversial reviewed Mining Charter last year, which lead to a breakdown in their relationship.
The chamber said the charter would hobble South Africa’s mining industry, and they had not been consulted when Zwane drew it up. Zwane said the charter was necessary for economic transformation.
President Cyril Ramaphosa intervened in the matter last week after his inauguration, to assure the chamber that the charter would again be looked at. The court case has been postponed by mutual agreement.
The chamber said in a statement on Tuesday morning that Mantashe brings with him a sound and fundamental knowledge of SA's mining sector.
“He is a person with whom our industry has long held a constructive and respectful relationship,” it said.
“He is an extremely tough negotiator, demonstrated both during his time as general secretary of the NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) and in his subsequent political positions. We look forward to the many engagements with him that doubtless lie ahead.”
The chamber also praised Ramaphosa for his “decisive action” in other areas, especially in the economic cluster, saying this was a clear demonstration of his commitment to good governance at state institutions.
Apart from Mantashe’s appointment, the chamber welcomed the comebacks of former finance ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan.
At the same time the chamber said much work lay ahead. The body also said it understood why the downsizing of the Cabinet had been delayed.
“The chamber looks forward to the president’s further announcements on a more streamlined and efficient Cabinet that matches the growth and transformation strategy of government, but within the constraints of what the economy and fiscus can afford.”* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER