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Ramathlodi no longer mines minister

Sep 23 2015 10:03
Matthew Hill, Tshepiso Mokhema and Renee Bonorchis

Johannesburg - The government has replaced mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramathlodi amid planned layoffs by miners and a commodity-price slump.

Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane will succeed Ramathlodi, who has become the public service and administration minister, the presidency said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. Zwane, a former official of the Free State provincial government in departments ranging from economics to agriculture, will be sworn in on Wednesday in Pretoria, it said.

“One cannot slam the door in his face, but the point is he has no track record,” Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union President Joseph Mathunjwa said by phone on Wednesday.

“He has only been on a provincial platform. Mining is another terrain, it needs a person with a thick skin.” The Amcu is the biggest labour organisation in platinum.

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum and manganese and the largest gold exporter on the continent. Plunging commodity prices are adding pressure on an industry struggling with regulatory changes and unreliable power supplies, and some of the country’s biggest miners are threatening to cut jobs.

Ramathlodi, appointed in May 2014 during a five-month strike that halted most operations of the world’s three biggest producers “showed mining companies that he is a custodian of our minerals,” and sought to include Amcu in negotiations, Mathunjwa said.

Mining accounts for more than half of the nation’s exports and employs about 440 000 people, a critical source of jobs in a nation with a 25% unemployment rate.

National Union of Mineworkers General Secretary David Sipunzi has “no complaints” about Zwane’s appointment even as he isn’t known by the industry, he said by phone. Ramathlodi’s “overall performance was commendable”, he said.

Chamber of Mines president Mike Teke, CEO Roger Baxter and their team said they look forward to meeting Zwane at the earliest opportunity to wish him all the best for his tenure, to hear his perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry, and to convey the industry’s views on these matters to him.

Wishing former minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi well, Baxter said: “Notwithstanding the tough conversations we found it necessary to have with each other at times, we always appreciated Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s openness to these frank conversations which were invariably based on striving to achieve the best for the industry and its contribution to the country and its people.“



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