For the mining sector to progress‚ it has to go back and redo things that were done incorrectly before, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.
“The reason South Africa is not the world’s mining capital is entirely our own doing,” he said.
“We chose to shut the door on new mining development decades ago through restrictive regulations‚ hostile labour practices and [discouraging] policy.”
Maimane was speaking at the Joburg Indaba held in Sandton attended by mining giants as well as other stakeholders.
He said the country had been trapped in a wrong paradigm for so long that it was hard to imagine it getting out.
++++“In this old paradigm‚ mining in South Africa is two things – firstly‚ it is a powerful tool of patronage that can transform connected comrades into billionaires at the stroke of a pen‚” Maimane said.
“And secondly‚ it is a symbolic battleground for ownership of our country’s wealth and resources – a battle that continues to be driven along age-old lines of race.”
He said South Africa continued to fill and close mining shafts rather than open them.
“Currently we only have around 22 active‚ contributing mining companies listed solely on our stock exchange. Canada has more than 200. Australia has in excess of 200.”
Cheap‚ exploited labour also contributed to the struggles in the sector‚ he said.
Maimane had a few recommendations on how the sector could be revived.
“First among these is to rip up the new mining charter‚ along with the MPRDA [Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act]‚ and rewrite them for a modern‚ investor-friendly mining sector.
“And written into this new legislation must be the clause that says: ‘Once empowered‚ always empowered’‚” he said.
The industry needed to be open and transparent. “We [also] need to look at a favourable tax regime.”
The biggest part of the mining pie should not be going to politically-connected individuals.
“All that will do is to sign mining’s death warrant.”
He warned that radical economic transformation was not a practice that would benefit all.
“The way the ANC government uses the term – and the way it has been written into the new mining charter – radical economic transformation is little more than a fig leaf for elite enrichment‚” he said.
“The MPRDA of 15 years ago‚ along with this year’s mining charter‚ give us all the tools we need to transfer mine ownership from an old wealthy elite to a new wealthy elite‚” Maimane said.
“So if the idea is to replace white mining tycoons with black mining tycoons and nothing more‚ then this could be the shortest Mining Indaba session ever.”
He told delegates that slogans like radical economic transformation and white monopoly capital were “a deliberate ploy to sow confusion among South Africans while President Zuma and the Guptas continue to loot public resources”.
Minerals Minister Mosebenzi Zwane faces a court battle over the controversial mining charter which the Chamber of Mines says, if implemented‚ will kill the industry.
“When a new mining charter is forced onto the mining industry by a minister who flies in a Guptaowned private jet to negotiate private deals‚ we have no option but to wonder: Who exactly wrote the charter?” Maimane said.
“And‚ given what we know about the shenanigans of the Guptas in state-owned enterprises‚ why must the mining industry believe that those entrusted with the democratic responsibility to govern are the real government of South Africa?
Disagreements over the mining charter saw the Chamber of Mines boycott the gala dinner at which Zwane was a guest speaker.
Chamber chief executive Roger Baxter said Zwane gave investors the wrong impression that the majority of South African stakeholders accepted the charter.