Judge tears into Zwane, asks if mines minister thinks he's Trump

Aug 04 2017 14:09
Yolandi Groenewald

Pretoria - Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane received a roasting in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday morning for ignoring South Africa's legal process.

This was after the mining minister failed to submit an answering affidavit on the Chamber of Mines' urgent court application to the high court to set aside his moratorium on new mining rights.

Judge Ramarumo Monama ordered Zwane to file an answering affidavit within 14 days. He also formalised an agreement between the Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) that Zwane would not implement the moratorium.

The chamber lodged the urgent application to suspend the mining minister's action to freeze the granting and renewal of mining rights on July 25. Zwane indicated on July 26 that he would oppose, but no further legal documents from his office were received from there on.

An irate Monama called the minister's actions irresponsible in a sector that is critical for South Africa's economy.

"I'm horrified that the court procedures can just be disregarded in such a way," he said. "Is the minister aware of the consequence of his action?"

Chamber of Mines head of legal and employment services Elize Strydom said the chamber's application has now been captured and made an agreement. She said it is clear that the judge was irritated with Zwane's disregard of proper procedure. 

The chamber's application went ahead despite the DMR's announcement on Twitter on Thursday night that it would be withdrawing its plans to impose the moratorium.

Counsel Chris Loxton pointed out that apart from the notice that Zwane would oppose the motion, the chamber has not received further legal communication.

He said the Chamber of Mines' legal team discovered on Thursday night that the department had tweeted that it would not implement the minister's moratorium. 

"This was followed by a media statement to the same effect this morning," Loxton said.

'Do you think you're the US president?'

"Is this now how we operate now in the country?" Monama asked. Comparing Zwane's tweets to those of Donald Trump, he asked Zwane if he thought he was the American president.

The DMR's tweet said it would explore other measures to ensure companies are compliant with the industry charter.

It announced on its Twitter account on Thursday that it had considered the views of junior miners, who suggested alternative routes should be pursued to ensure mining companies adhere to the new Mining Charter. 

“Based on the reasoned submissions made, the department will not pursue the moratorium,” it said.

Earlier on Thursday, further drama erupted when the chamber said it feared that the DMR “instructed all its regional offices to stop processing any Section 11, new mining right or prospecting right applications submitted by mining companies after July 19 2017".

The DMR denied issuing the order.

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