Minister Zwane swipes at Chamber of Mines

27 June 2017 - 12:10 By Staff Reporter
Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane.
Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Tuesday criticised the Chamber of Mines for applying for an urgent interdict on the 2017 Mining Charter.

“It is our view that those who support this Mining Charter support our quest for transformation‚ and those who are in opposition to the Charter are in fact opposing the transformation objectives of Government‚ and we stand ready to defend the interests of South Africans in this regard‚” Zwane said in a statement.

“As with any legislation that is developed‚ it is virtually impossible to please all parties. It is unfortunate that the Chamber of Mines has chosen to take this route‚ but their decision is respected‚ and the democracy we fought for allows all of us to exercise our rights in this manner.

“We have confidence in the courts' ability to act with diligence on this matter‚” the Minister said.

On Monday‚ the Chamber applied to the North Gauteng High Court to stop the implementation of the reviewed Mining Charter‚ which was published by Zwane on June 15.

In its founding affidavit‚ the chamber questions why Zwane changed the words “previously disadvantaged groups” to “black persons”.

“He has replaced the definition of historically disadvantaged person in section 1 of the MPRDA (Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act) and the term historically disadvantaged South Africans in section 100(2)(a)…with his own definition of black persons.

“The definition of black person impermissibly widens the scope of those who may benefit from the provisions of the charter to include not only persons or communities disadvantaged by unfair discrimination before the Constitution took effect‚ but also Africans‚ Coloureds and Indians who became citizens of the Republic of South Africa by naturalisation on or after April 27 1994 and who would have been entitled to acquire citizenship by naturalisation prior to the that date.

“In other words‚ for reasons best known to himself‚ the minister‚ through the publication of the 2017 charter‚ now seeks to benefit a category of person who were never disadvantaged by unfair discrimination before the Constitution took effect‚” the chamber argued.

Another example of what the chamber described as “gross regulatory overreach” is what the charter says on the foreign controlled and registered companies supplying the South African mining and minerals industry with mining goods and services.

“In this regard the 2017 Charter provides that foreign companies must contribute a minimum of 1% of their turnover generated from local mining companies towards the Mining Transformation and Development Agency. In imposing turnover tax‚ the minister has not only purported to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction – which is clearly beyond his powers — he has also attempted to usurp the powers of the minister of finance‚” the chamber argued.

The reviewed Mining Charter has received a lot of criticism from the sector.

In the revised Charter‚ the black ownership target was upped from 26% to 30% — a requirement mining companies will need to comply with within a 12-month period.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba‚ remarking on the negative market reaction‚ previously said that although the new charter was a “welcome step” there have been “consequences“. He urged Zwane to engage with the Chamber of Mines and unions to address concerns.

- TimesLIVE