A lot has been said about the Chamber of Mines decision to boycott an important mining stakeholder event that was held in Joburg on Monday evening. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane attended the event, addressed the delegates and had an opportunity to interact with the media to outline his views on the sector and the impasse regarding the Mining Charter, which will be dealt with in the High Court in Pretoria later in 2017.
One of the important things Zwane said in his address was that the mining sector plays an important role in the economy. It is still a goose that lays the golden egg, but there is important and urgent work to be done by all industry stakeholders to transform the industry and make it beneficial to all South Africans across race and gender.
Zwane also sent a signal to the industry to indicate its areas of discomfort when it comes to the pace with which his department (and government) is moving in transforming this important sector of our economy.
Unfortunately, the chamber was not there to listen to and interact with the minister. It issued a statement saying it had chosen to interact with him only through the courts. The minister respects the chamber’s decision to go this route and boycott important industry events that have the potential to facilitate conversations among stakeholders and achieve consensus on the best way to build a future for this economy.
The mining industry will not be built by leaders who travel thousands of miles across the oceans to talk ill about the country and drive away potential investment. This industry will only be built by men and women who exercise diplomacy, caution and patience and who understand that growing the industry must at all times be measured against how well the sector is doing to address historical imbalances. These imbalances deal with ownership, health and safety, and procurement, among others.
People took time off to attend the Joburg Indaba on Monday evening. They listened to the minister and interacted with him thereafter. They interact with him on a daily basis. They do not have to agree with his views, but they recognise that he is the minister responsible for this industry and they do not allow petty personal differences to stand in the way of these difficult conversations.
The minister’s door remains open for the chamber to engage with him. Flying thousands of miles across the oceans to bad-mouth the country is a display of immaturity and lack of commitment to a country endowed with resources that can actually grow the industry.
SA is a constitutional state governed by the law, an independent judiciary and internal stability. Our conversations have to focus on growth and change — how we grow the industry and share the proverbial pie.
Fidel Hadebe Spokesman, mineral resources ministry