Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, today for the second time in two weeks, assembled the leadership of mining social partners, as Minister Mantashe prefers to refer to stakeholders, for talks about the Mining Charter. It also provided an opportunity for the Mining Charter Task Team to report on progress made with charter negotiations that are being led by charter expert Mosa Mabuza.
According to Solidarity General Secretary Gideon du Plessis, charter negotiators are bound by a confidentiality clause as far as the details of the negotiations are concerned. What can be said, though, is that good progress is being made as far as the key issues are concerned, and that the negotiations, although robust at times, still take place in a spirit of mutual respect.
“Although the controversial version of Charter 3, drafted under former Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, serves as the basis for negotiations, the next version should be radically different from the Zwane version. The Zwane version contains many unimplementable and unrealistic clauses, and is fraught with flaws and contradictions which can now, 24 months later, be rectified,” Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis contends that although much negotiation still needs to take place within the Task Team and the Principals’ Forum, the past three weeks’ negotiations have again spawned social dialogue and, to a large extent, the damage wrought by the Zwane era has been mitigated by a sense of cohesion that is developing among parties. “Amcu’s participation also signals a positive turn of events and strengthens the position of organised labour in the negotiations. It also ensures that mine workers are represented over a broader spectrum,” Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis also said that there were concerns about whether the Department of Mineral Resources had sufficient capacity and senior expertise to manage the monitoring of and compliance with the new Mining Charter. “In addition to the dubious appointments made by Zwane within the department and at statutory institutions affiliated with the department, there is also a lack of additional senior level expertise. While other state departments have a large number of superfluous staff members, Minister Mantashe will have to address his department’s capacity challenges. One way of addressing this problem effectively could be to combine the Departments of Mineral Resources and that of Energy again in order to unite the pool of expertise,” Du Plessis added.
Meanwhile, negotiations in the Mining Charter Task Team and parallel-running Competition Task Team are proceeding full steam ahead in the hope that a new Charter will be adopted as soon as possible, which will once again create policy certainty for the mining sector and investors,” Du Plessis concluded.