Judge rebukes mines minister for flouting court procedure in charter battle
Mosebenzi Zwane has again disregarded an agreement to lodge an answering affidavit
Fresh from a scathing rebuke from judge Ramarumo Monama for not following court procedure, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane missed a deadline last week to file an answering affidavit to a Chamber of Mines challenge to the third version of the Mining Charter.
Zwane, the first respondent in the chamber’s interdict against the charter, has again disregarded an agreement to lodge an answering affidavit.
He missed the July 31 deadline set in an undertaking he had with the chamber to suspend implementation of the charter in exchange for more time to prepare an answering affidavit, pushing the court date into September from July 18.
The minister must seek court condonation of a new date to submit an answering affidavit and to explain why he missed the July 31 deadline he had proposed, and which the chamber and department agreed to.
"The minister must still file an application for condonation of his late filing of his answering affidavit to the chamber’s application for an urgent interdict set down for September," said Elize Strydom, who heads the chamber’s legal challenges against the department.
If the chamber rejects the condonation there could be a cost order against the minister or a judicial rebuke.
In a blunt and critical review of the minister’s behaviour, the judge on Friday gave Zwane 14 days to submit a written explanation for his behaviour that exhibited the "utmost disrespect" towards court procedures and the Constitution by not bothering to file an answering affidavit in the chamber’s interdict to stop his proposed moratorium on issuing new mining and prospecting rights as well as suspending mineral rights transfers.
"Minister Zwane has been made aware of the proceedings today in the Pretoria High Court during which judge Monama acceded to a request by counsel for the minister to allow him the opportunity to file an explanatory affidavit within 14 days," said department spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi.
Monama was angry at the way the minister flouted court procedure, saying he neglected to deal in an answering affidavit with the serious charges in the chamber’s founding affidavit that the minister had acted outside the powers granted to him in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, was "incompetent" and had acted unlawfully. The judge was also upset that Zwane neglected to formally inform the court or the chamber that he had changed his mind about the proposed moratorium, instead relying on tweets and a media statement to rescind his notice.
"If the minister can act like this, what stops ordinary people from doing as he does?
"Such conduct is tarnishing Brand SA," the judge said.