Gwede Mantashe. Picture: VELI NHLAPO/SOWETAN
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: VELI NHLAPO/SOWETAN

Almost seven months ago, when he announced the gazetting of Mining Charter 3, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe was at pains to point out two things, both of which have been proven to be incorrect.

He claimed the charter represented a consensus of stakeholders following extensive discussions. With a peripheral view of some of those discussions, it is clear that what he called consensus was a process of the government spelling out the charter, stakeholders protesting and the government insisting its plan was the only way to go. Probably out of relief to have avoided the previous version of the charter, the industry did not challenge his assertion vigorously.

Fast-forward six months and the Minerals Council announces it’s taking Mantashe’s department to court over the regulation on charter implementation. Mantashe’s first claim has been shown to be wishful thinking.

His second assertion was that his version of the charter was “an important contributory element to efforts aimed at stimulating the economy”. Not so much. Almost seven months later we’ve just had figures that show that over the year to February, mining declined 7.5%.

Magical thinking permeates the ANC’s policy suite. In mining, this is expressed by the belief that investors can be persuaded to turn over large sums of their money for the privilege of operating in a regulatory environment where the rules are not clear, where processes are beset by failing infrastructure, vicious unions and capricious intervention by officials.

Unsurprisingly, there has been no significant new foreign investment, if any at all. Until the ANC realises that an extractive industry doesn’t mean trying to extract money from investors, the investment will not materialise. The charter should be scrapped to allow the mining industry to do what it does best: provide jobs, tax revenue and foreign exchange.

James Lorimer MP
DA shadow mineral resources minister