Debates in the formulation of the third Mining Charter laid bare the class, race and ideological divisions inherent in South African society, leaving Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe in a nearly impossible position to please anyone. A two-day summit last weekend provided an unprecedented insight into the debates around the draft charter released by Mantashe in June, showing the extent of his Herculean task of balancing the uncompromising demands from a broad spectrum of role players, each with vested interests and, in part, self-serving objectives that would come at the expense of others. The fiery, populist, hardline rhetoric from the National Union of Mineworkers deputy president, Phillip Vilakazi, which drew loud cheers and ululations from the more than 1,000 delegates, contrasted sharply with the low-key, measured responses from other unions, which drew muted, polite applause at best.The uncompromising, unrealistic demands from the South African Mining Development Assoc...

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