The third iteration of SA’s Mining Charter (Mining Charter 3), published by Mineral and Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in June, is ultra vires [beyond one's legal power or authority] and can thus not be implemented. But it is worth examining. Its key provisions are a textbook example of what empowerment should not be unless we want to so hobble the beneficiaries as to reduce them to perpetual dependency. The minister claims that Mining Charter 3 is the "practical expression [of] radical economic transformation". He argues that those who criticise it are opposed to transformation and that the Charter advances "the interests of South Africans". The Chamber of Mines has countered that Mining Charter 3 inflicts such financial and reputational damage on the industry and the country at large that it requires urgent redress. What tends to be a little lost in all this is that if the terms of Mining Charter 3 were ever implemented, the supposed beneficiaries would be reduced to never-end...

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