by Charmane Russell

“State of Capture” report welcomed by Chamber

Chamber of Mines President, Mike Teke, has welcomed the publication of the Public Protector’s report on the “State of Capture”

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While the report comes to few formal conclusions, its recommendation that the matter is so serious and so significant that it needs to be handled by a formal and independently selected judicial commission of enquiry is to be welcomed, and is a process that is fully supported by the Chamber.

The Chamber has repeatedly raised its concerns — first in private, but more lately in public —about the state of governance in South Africa, particularly as this applies to the allegations of impropriety within the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). The Public Protector’s report provides more detail on these allegations and the alleged improper use of state machinery for nefarious ends.

At a broader level, many civil society groups have also added their calls for better governance in the country.

These efforts have been reinforced by our judicial and other constitutional institutions, that are still credible and which still function. Their wheels may grind more slowly than we would like, but they do so inevitably and inexorably.

It is these concerted efforts that will ensure that the rule of law and good governance will carry the day.

The Chamber recognises that the Commission will need at least the 180 days allocated to its investigation, and the Council and its members will provide any and all support to its function.

We would submit, however, that in the intervening period urgent intervention is needed to restore the integrity of the DMR.

The Chamber will seek urgent engagements with the Presidency and ANC to consider the material damage caused to the international reputation of the South African mining industry by the allegations of impropriety and corruption that have been raised in this report, and elsewhere, and to take the necessary remedial action.

Alarm bells

However, the Chamber of Mines has noted, with some alarm, reports regarding the appointment of a new Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): Mineral Regulation.

The role is an extremely important one given the responsibilities of that position. We would have hoped that, though it is an acting appointment, the normal thorough scrutiny of potential candidates’ ability and experience would have been followed and that every attempt would have been made to make a permanent appointment. It should be noted that an Acting DDG has exactly the same authority as a DDG when acting in that role.

Given the economic crisis facing the mining sector the Chamber is of the firm view that the leadership team at the DMR, especially the Director General and Deputy Director General appointments, need to have appropriate leadership and mining expertise and a track record of working with all stakeholders, which is crucial to helping stabilise the industry and then progress the growth and transformation agenda of the industry. Candidates with limited mining experience would compound the current crisis.We would trust that this appointment will be properly scrutinised by Cabinet, and an experienced candidate appointed very soon.

Chamber responds to MPRDA vote

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Mines observed the debate in Parliament in November on the MPRDA Amendment Bill, which has been in gestation a long time. The Bill will now be considered by the NCOP.

The Bill has been the subject of rigorous consultation, and the industry appreciates that. We note continuing differences of opinion on the constitutionality of some of the Bill’s provisions, a matter that the Chamber raised during the consultation process. We were made aware that there was a legal opinion obtained by the DMR confirming the constitutionality of the relevant draft provisions, even though other opinions differed. This we hope will be dealt with thoroughly during the finalisation process.On the overall content of the Bill, engagements with the DMR focused on crafting legislation that would promote all aspects of the mining industry, bring as much certainty as practicable and ultimately bolster investor confidence. Obviously there were sometimes differences of opinion, and compromises from preferred positions were sometimes made by all parties.

The Chamber hopes to see the Bill finalised as soon as possible to enhance certainty and confidence in respect of the industry’s regulatory framework.

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