Courts unable to solve impasse, says Cutifani
Anglo American CEO says the solution will be for the government and industry to negotiate a settlement over the Mining Charter
South African mining companies and the government have to find a negotiated settlement to their impasses over the Mining Charter and other disagreements because legal redress through the courts is not the best mechanism to find long-lasting resolutions, says Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani.
Speaking at a media event on Wednesday evening, Cutifani said the sector had lost 100,000 jobs in the past seven years and could lose another 100,000 if there was no change to the way it was regulated and operated.
Companies had to protect their position by challenging the Department of Mineral Resources in court to set aside a hugely controversial and damaging third iteration and seek a declaratory order to define black ownership commitment, he said, but pointed out this was not the best solution.
"We’re fighting the battle in the courts, and whilst I believe that we had to take steps to protect our position, the answer will not come from the courts.
"All they will do is redefine the points that we disagree on so that we create a new set of arguments. In the end, maybe we need to go through that process to find a new framework, but in the end the solution will be people sitting across the table, negotiating a new future. The courts won’t do it for us. We have to find each other in these conversations," he said.
His comments follow calls from ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for the industry, represented by the Chamber of Mines, to talk to them. The chamber is clear it will not talk to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who they say is tainted with corruption and acting outside the sector’s best interests.
The review of the third charter was postponed to February from December to give the two-day hearing an extra day to accommodate communities that have joined the case.
Industry sources have welcomed the delay, seeing an outside chance of the suspended charter being rescinded after the December ANC elective congress if factions allied to President Jacob Zuma lose ground to more pragmatic elements within the party during the vote for a new president of the governing party.
The hope is if that happens Zwane will be removed, clearing the way for talks between the department and chamber.
"We must reinvest and rebuild our industry. We do not have the resources in SA to fund that change, and therefore we have to put structures in place where we encourage people to invest, because they can actually make a return, because we don’t get investment unless we can deliver a return," Cutifani said.