Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma on Saturday asked ANC delegates at the 54th national conference to decide on a way forward for the revised Mining Charter that doesn’t “destabilise the industry further”.
“Challenges facing the mining industry and the need to have policy certainty require action from us,” he said during his opening address in Nasrec.
Mining Charter III was introduced by Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane in June. The Chamber of Mines will challenge its legality in court mid-February 2018 and its implementation remains suspended, pending the outcome of the court case.
“Improved policy implementation must be a key focus area,” Zuma added.
He also urged a balanced approach toward economic redress, just hours after he announced free higher education for poor and working class students in 2018.
“We have to act decisively. Doing nothing guarantees there will be little progress in addressing triple challenges...(but) reckless action will plunge the country into deep economic and social stresses," he said.
Zuma took aim at private sector corruption, in a week where SA-headquartered global retailer Steinhoff came under scrutiny for alleged misgovernance.
“The private sector is treated with kid gloves, and referred to in softer terms - such as collusion and accounting irregularities,” said Zuma.
He said that “theft and corruption in the private sector is as bad as government and must be dealt with decisively by law enforcement agencies”.
The president received cheers from delegates when he delved into the history of the private sector under apartheid.
READ: Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students
Speaking to Fin24 on the sidelines of a business breakfast at Nasrec earlier on Saturday, Investec Banking SA CEO Richard Wainwright had denied that big business was backing a specific candidate in the ANC race, and promised to work with whoever was elected president.
Zuma's remarks come a day after Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown slammed what she said was a greater scrutiny of public sector execs than their private sector peers.
* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER