Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has filed his answering affidavit in the North Gauteng High Court to oppose the Chamber of Mines’ urgent interdict to prevent government from implementing the Mining Charter.
This comes after the Chamber filed an application in June to have the Mining Charter reviewed and set aside, saying the Charter would be harmful to the industry and the economy because of its content, as well as the vague and contradictory language employed to convey that content.
The Charter, which was gazetted in June, sets new black ownership targets for the industry, including that new mining rights holders had 30 percent black ownership shared among employees, communities and black entrepreneurs.
Mining rights holders who have complied with the previous target of 26 percent have to “top up” to 30 percent within 12 months. Those applying for prospecting rights would be required to have a “minimum of 50 percent plus one black person shareholding”. These shareholders must have voting rights.
Zwane’s answering affidavit was due on July 31, but was filed a week later on Monday because he had been out of the country for a bilateral visit to the Central African Republic together with several senior departmental officials and advisers, all of whose contributions were vital in dealing with the affidavit.
In his answering affidavit, Zwane accuses the Chamber of attempting to block effective and meaningful participation of black people in the mining and minerals industry.
He said the Chamber’s opening statement in its founding affidavit that it was committed to ensuring transformation in the mining industry and supports the objectives of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) was untrue.
Zwane said the Mining Charter was never meant to be an ‘aspirational document’, as is suggested by the Chamber.
“The MPRDA very clearly empowers the Minister of Mineral Resources to develop a Charter. This legislative instruction bears legal consequences which follow the development of the charter by the minister,” Zwane said.
“Parliament therefore, in empowering the Minister to develop the Charter, was intent on ensuring that Government’s objectives of redressing historical, social and economic inequalities must be achieved in the broadest manner possible.”
Zwane also denied the Chamber’s allegation that he had not held meaningful consultations regarding the implementation of the Charter.
“Throughout the course of its deliberations and consultations with the applicant from at least July 2016 onward, the Department kept the applicant apprised of its thinking and consulted with the applicant as the draft 2017 charter evolved, as part of the consultative process with all the other parties. No other stakeholder was afforded this,” Zwane said.
“The department had devoted considerably more time, energy and resources to dealing with the applicant and its concerns than any other stakeholder in the industry. There were at least 17 substantive meetings and extensive engagements which the Department held with the applicant in relation to the draft 2017 Charter.”