Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS
Mosebenzi Zwane - Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS

South Africa's mining bosses are pushing for a new mineral resources minister, boycotting a keynote address by incumbent Mosebenzi Zwane during which he raised eyebrows by saying the outcome of the ANC's national elective conference was a foregone conclusion.

While Zwane was playing politics at a mining industry's Joburg Indaba gala dinner on Tuesday, delegates from companies like Anglo American, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold, PWC and JP Morgan, KPMG and Standard Bank were outspoken about him in an online poll conducted on Wednesday morning.

Asked about "the one thing you want the ANC-led government to do for mining", 41% called for a new minister.

Another 26.6% called for the scrapping of the controversial Mining Charter that happened on Zwane's watch.

Disagreement over the charter is one of the main reasons why the Chamber of Mines boycotted the dinner where Zwane was the guest speaker.

Zwane, widely seen as an ally of President Jacob Zuma, spoke about the ANC's upcoming national elective conference in December.

"We already know who will be president . It's a done deal. We are not stressing. The policies won't change. In January there will be new leadership and policies will remain the same," said Zwane.

The matter had already been decided at branch level around the country and the result was already known within the party, he added.

Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir said no one could know the outcome of the election yet.

"Maybe it is bluster or he knows something we don't know. Maybe he is party to manipulating the voting process," Fakir said.

Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter said there was a conscious decision not to attend the event with Zwane. "It was not an impetuous decision," Baxter told journalists.

"Not only has Minister Zwane published a charter whose full implementation would destroy the industry, he also recklessly sought to introduce a moratorium on approving new rights or amending rights. He did so on the basis of his refusal to engage on the issues."

 He said Zwane seemingly came into his role to "apparently force the sale of a mine to a well-known family that has systematically robbed SA of funds", a reference to the Gupta family.

Sipho Pityana, outspoken chairman of AngloGold Ashanti, backed the Chamber of Mines.

"The president has appointed a crook and a joker. Zwane is not committed to the industry. All he wants to do is loot, steal and undermine the industry. I fully endorse that the chamber stays away from that crook," said Pityana.

The chamber has made it clear that it wants a renegotiated charter that all stakeholders can agree to.

In the revised charter the black ownership target was increased from 26% to 30% - a requirement mining companies will have to comply with within 12 months.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane called for a rewrite of the mining charter.

"Rip up the new Mining Charter," he said.

Maimane also advised that "the biggest part of the mining pie should not be going to politically connected individuals. All that will do is to sign mining's death warrant." - Additional reporting by Allan Seccombe

- The Times

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