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Mining industry reacts to cabinet reshuffle

What Zwane’s swan song and Mantashe’s appointment mean for the industry – Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter.

NASTASSIA ARENDSE:  The Chamber of Mines has reacted to the appointments made by President Ramaphosa last night, saying that the swift and decisive action taken by the president in a number of critical areas is a clear demonstration of his commitment to ethical leadership and governance in state institutions.

This is Warren Thompson’s chat with Roger Baxter, who is the CEO of the Chamber of Mines.

ROGER BAXTER:  We are obviously particularly glad to see Mr Gwede Mantashe coming in as the new minister on the mining side. He’s got a wealth of experience in the mining sector. He’s a seasoned negotiator, he’s got integrity, he’s got dignity. He is certainly not a pushover in terms of any discussions, and is someone who is going to come and really work with all the stakeholders in the industry to get mining back on track.

Read: A well-considered cabinet

PRINESHA NAIDOO:  With Amcu having grown very substantially over the last few years and, as you’ve pointed out, Gwede Mantashe coming from the National Union of Mineworkers, is that going to be a tricky relationship to manage?

ROGER BAXTER:  I think he’s got integrity and he certainly comes to the table with dignity at the same time. Yes, having been a secretary-general in the National Union of Mineworkers for a number of years back in the early 1990s, he’s a man who is going to come to the table and engage all stakeholders on an equal footing. I don’t think he’s going to employ any fear or favour or prejudice towards any of the particular participants in the different discussions.

I think what’s important is just to see the absolute sea change that’s taken place in the cabinet reshuffle that took place yesterday evening, because clearly the industry was not going to engage with the previous minister, Mosebenzi Zwane. He was obviously a discredited minister. The industry had no trust and no confidence that he was operating or engaging with the industry in a way which was in the national interest. We felt that his interest was somewhere else.

I think Mr Mantashe comes to the table with a genuine focus on the national interest. He’s been involved in politics for a significant portion of his working career as the secretary-general of the ANC, and I think he will come to the table and engage stakeholders in a manner which enables outcomes that are in the national interest, as opposed to just allowing a partisan interest to take place.

I’m not as concerned about the issue you raised.

WARREN THOMPSON:  He’ll be sworn in this evening, Mr Mantashe. What would you like him to address as of 08:00 tomorrow, as the first thing on his table?

ROGER BAXTER:  What we’ve been beating a drum about for some time – and it’s in the public domain as to what our serious concerns were – is obviously restoring ethical leadership and good governance to the DMR, which is a very good starting point. That’s going to include the leadership in the department itself. I think we need to get on track with restoring policy and regulatory certainty, predictability and competitiveness. That’s basically getting a number of bits of legislation and bits of policy resolved, including obviously the heavily disputed Zwane charter.

For the long term, we are looking for those conversations, I think. They are not going to be easy but they are going to be important to get mining back on track.

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