Zwane under fire for bowing to firms on Mining Charter

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Cape Town - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) aims to challenge, what it called, the "shock" suspension of the Mining Charter, adding that the government must stop tip toeing around transformation.

The contentious Charter has been halted after the Chamber of Mines applied for an urgent court interdict to stop its implementation.

The announcement of the suspension, coupled with worse-than-expected retail sales and CPI data from the USA, saw the rand strengthening as much as R13.01 to the US dollar on Friday afternoon.  

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and his department had given a written undertaking not to implement or apply the provisions of the Mining Charter, pending judgment in the urgent interdict application brought by the chamber.

"The minister has furthermore undertaken that, in the event of any breach of the above undertaking, the chamber can set the urgent interdict application down for hearing on 48 hours’ notice to the minister," said the Chamber.

READ: SA's bombshell Mining Charter halted for now

The NUM said it will consult its legal unit to explore possibilities of challenging the agreement since transformation in the mining industry affects  employees and communities.

Transformation targets listed in the Charter, which was gazetted in June 2017, requires mining companies to adhere to a 30% black ownership target. In addition, 50% of all board members and executive management must be black while 70% of all mining goods and 80% of all services in the mining industry must be procured from BEE entities.

"We are extremely disappointed with the Minister of Mineral Resources who seem to buckled under pressure in court and conceded in the suspension of the mining charter and thus delayed the meaningful inclusion of employees and communities in this exploitative industry," NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said in a statement.

"We expected no less from the Chamber of Mines, whom we feel their actions have attacked every essence of transformation in the mining industry."

The NUM also appealed to the Department of Mineral Resources to stop what it described as tip toeing around transformation and its constitutional obligations of redressing the imbalances of past.

"The first such act should be to deal decisively with all mining companies that failed to comply with the previous Mining Charter 2014 targets, thus suspending and withdrawing all those affected mining rights."

'R50bn market value loss in mining shares'

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance welcomed the suspension of the Charter, which it claimed caused a R50bn market value loss in mining shares.  

MP Alf Lees said in a statement that it supports share schemes for miners when they are structured to benefit workers and are economically viable.

"However, the Mining Charter was not designed to benefit miners but instead to make cronies and insiders richer, as they open up new opportunities to get in on mining deals," he said.

The DA is over the view that the Charter is more likely to cost jobs than to create them.

"The ANC government would do well to take this opportunity to review the Charter and to present an effective plan that will attract investment, create jobs and benefit our people, not just the connected few," added Lees.

READ: Players should avoid court battle on Mining Charter - Gigaba

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Thursday called on the Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources to settle their differences outside court.

Gigaba raised concerns that the litigation process could delay the implementation of the non-controversial or undisputed parts of the charter.

“The parties should engage to find one another. Restoring confidence in the mining sector is important for us,” he said. Zwane also indicated that he is open to engagement on the issues raised, said Gigaba.

The mining sector has been a significant contributor to economic growth. “I would be keen that parties involved in the Mining Charter dispute find one another to resolve the issues outside court so that they do not have a prolonged impact on investor confidence in the mining sector.”

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