Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

Natasha Marrian’s article earlier in the week was shoddy journalism intended to cast the Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in a negative light and further feed the narrative of a minister who is under siege and is not in control of his department (Zwane faces rebellion from within his department, October 10).

The Mining Indaba was a multi-stakeholder event attended by thousands of delegates from SA and abroad. It is an annual gathering that positions our country’s mining sector with respect to investors and other interested parties, including media. The decision by some stakeholders to boycott the event takes nothing away from its importance.

The same can be said of other events, such as the Joburg Indaba, which took place recently but was boycotted by a certain stakeholder.

Those who choose to boycott such important events do so out of their own reading of the situation, which is a purely subjective decision to make.

Others from the industry choose to attend such events, listen to the minister deliver his speeches and engage with him thereafter, because they know he is the minister responsible for a specific sector of our economy and choosing to boycott his speeches is perhaps not the most sensible thing to do.

This is especially so in the face of the transformation programme unfolding in our country.

The boycotters’ destructive posture includes some of their spokespeople badmouthing the country when they are abroad, telling potential investors that SA’s mining sector is not worth investing in. This is a crude lack of patriotism.

I do not know what “internal rebellion” your reporter refers to in the article. The department is continuing with its daily function of implementing its annual performance plan and discharging its regulatory mandate as required by law.

Just this past week, the director-general led his team of senior officials to Parliament to table the department’s annual report and account to lawmakers, in line with the requirements of the law.

The shifting of regional managers across regions is an operational matter that takes place all the time and in all organisations (including media houses, where senior editorial and managerial personnel are moved around to further enhance organisational performance).

From time to time some of the people affected by change express unhappiness, but this can hardly be viewed as rebellion. Out of respect for our courts, the department will resist the temptation to engage in a public spat with the affected regional managers as they remain employees of the department.

That the department has been able to obtain a clean audit cannot be attributed to just one aspect of its performance. Clean audits come about as a result of a diligent top leadership and the efforts of all employees (including regional managers), and I do not see how this can be used to justify your journalist’s view that realigning the department’s resources is intended to award mining licences to certain favoured individuals.

The function of the awarding of licences is managed by a multidisciplinary team of experts, officials and other stakeholders, including affected communities. It is a rigorous process that can only be done in line with the regulatory requirements.

On the wider mining front, the minister continues to engage with a range of industry stakeholders, including communities, to discuss pertinent issues concerning the industry.

Those who have chosen boycotts as their weapon of choice do so out of their own wisdom, but the important work of growing the industry while transforming it will not stop because some choose not to listen to the minister’s speeches. We are long past that stage.

Mature industry leaders attend these important events, listen to the minister and thereafter engage with him on industry issues. As the minister always says, his door is open to those who wish to engage with him.

The department is intact, there is no evidence of the rebellion your journalist refers to, and the minister and his team of officials led by the director-general remain focused on growing the mining sector and opening it up to inclusive participation.

SA’s mining industry is open for business. We are a stable country, hungry for growth and transformation, and endowed with acres of mineral resources, finish and klaar.

Fidel Hadebe

Spokesman, mineral resources ministry

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