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Fri Dec 19 03:30:21 CAT 2014

Less talk, more action, the way to impress investors

The Times Editorial | 04 June, 2013 01:07

The Times Editorial; Perhaps President Jacob Zuma was criticised unfairly last week when he tried to reassure investors that the government was serious about tackling the instability in the mining sector that is causing many investors to dump the rand.

Financial analysts have pointed out that the rand was already going south - read above R10 to the dollar - before Zuma called his "urgent" press briefing, and that there was nothing anyone could have said to stem the bloodbath.

They have a point. Other emerging-market currencies also took a hammering as investors piled into a resurgent dollar.

Besides, quick solutions to the malaise corroding our mining sector are just not going to happen. What is required, for lasting peace on our mines, is the forging of some sort of survival compact, involving mine owners, the rival unions and the government. It is in all their interests, not to mention the country's, for compromises to be struck.

The alternative - wholesale shaft closures and mass retrenchments - is too heavy a price to pay.

Interventions by the president and his ministers can help create the climate for serious and far-reaching negotiations.

There is a role for speech-making but, when they stand up to reassure investors, Zuma and his lieutenants need to outline in some detail the steps they will take to help bring about the necessary sea change.

It is pointless to issue, as Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant did yesterday, a statement about the need for a ''peacekeeping'' force on the mines without explaining how that force would be constituted or operated.

Instead of rushing to summon the world's media to a lecture on the right to strike, Zuma should have sat down with his finance, minerals and labour ministers to devise a coherent plan for dealing with the crisis.

This might not have slowed the rand's slide but it would have convinced investors that we are serious about solving our problems.

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