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Zwane defends Mining Charter as cornerstone of radical economic transformation

Aug 18 2017 10:57
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane defended the controversial Mining Charter as the cornerstone of radical economic transformation on Friday.

Addressing the Black Business Council’s business breakfast at the Houghton Golf Course in Johannesburg, he described the charter as a decisive and deliberate tool by government to improve the lives of the majority of South Africans. 

He said radical economic transformation is more than a populist buzzword. "The economy has to undergo fundamental change for the majority of South Africans to participate.

"The 2017 Mining Charter gives practical expression to radical economic transformation. It is a decisive and deliberate action by government. It classically defines the transformation we need."

The minister dismissed concerns that the charter is not achievable and said it would bring about much-needed change. 

Zwane is facing increasing pressure from the mining sector over his new regulations, and is also implicated in the #GuptaLeaks saga.

On Friday he emphasised that his department consulted widely in drawing up the charter. "Only one stakeholder has expressed opposition to the matter of transforming the mining industry, and the matter is now before the courts."

His comments flew in the face of the chamber's claims that Zwane had acted unilaterally in drawing up the charter.

Zwane said many of the stakeholders consulted said that 30% black ownership of mining companies is simply not enough and called for more than 50%. 

Zwane will defend the Mining Charter in court next month against the Chamber of Mines, which has asked the court to set it aside. The Chamber of Mines believes the charter, if implemented in its current format, will have a far-reaching negative impact on the industry that is already struggling to keep afloat. 

On top of the Mining Charter, Zwane recently caused more unhappiness in the sector when he announced a freeze on granting and renewing mining rights. However, he pulled the plug on this idea shortly afterwards. 

Zwane also said the government has been dealing with policy for the last 23 years of democracy. "The time has arrived that we stop talking and engage ourselves in action, especially to ensure that the majority begin to play a role in the country’s economy."

Earlier reports indicated that Zwane's head was on the chopping block if President Jacob Zuma survived a vote of no confidence in Parliament. But the minister on Friday gave no impression that he was feeling the pressure, and confirmed he looked forward to defending his charter in court. 

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