It is difficult not to write about the political developments in southern Africa at a time when South Africa is embroiled in a titanic struggle to rid itself of the Zuma factor. Over the next few months, there will be more clarity about the political direction the country will take. All indications are, however, that a government without Zuma will be more business friendly, and that a Department of Mineral Resources without Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, will do its utmost best to accommodate all the interest in the mining industry. Zwane has been under enormous pressure, and not just from investors, the Chamber of Mines and big mining companies. Despite the perceptions of the twitterati, social media users and abusers, big business and the mainstream media that their view is the only view, there are people out there who think differently, and they must be given airtime.
There is a big percentage of young black business people and junior mining companies that supports at least some of the the amendments proposed in Mining Charter III. In fact, this group has been pressurising Zwane to implement the Charter, not only that, but they are pushing for a 51% black ownership, nationalisation or more government control of the mining industry. This is a reality, and these voices must be heard. They might not be affiliated with the Chamber of Mines, but they have a big stake in the welfare of the country, and in its future. The mining industry in South Africa, and in fact, in Africa, will be driven by junior mining companies, especially in the exploration sector. Wouldn’t it be great if they are 100% African owned?
This is not to say, of course, that major’s and foreign junior mining companies do not have a role to play, in fact, they have an even bigger role to play. They are integral to the development of skills and education, and to empower young, local African’s to develop the self-confidence that will help them start their own mining companies. But in the end, the goal should be to have more homegrown African exploration and mining companies active on the continent than Australian, Canadian and UK based companies. It is the only way to prevent copious amounts of capital finding its way to global tax haven’s.
Despite the optimism, which was once again prevalent at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town in February, South African’s, Zimbabweans and Angolan’s should now be more vigilant and vocal as ever before. Besides having enormous economic potential these countries have a few other common denominators – bad governance, corruption and kleptocracy. Civil society and the general populace can never let this happen again in the future. Despite offering better governance, there are questions about all three new presidents (if Ramaphosa has been appointed as president when this is read).
Their slates are not clean. João Lourenço, president of Angola, was handpicked by, and is a close ally of José Eduardo dos Santos, one of the longest serving dictators in Africa. Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been accused of having interests in the notorious Marange diamond fields just too many times for it not to be true. But the real albatross around his neck is his alleged involvement in the Gukurahundi massacre in Bulawayo in the 1980’s, and it might come back to haunt him. As the Marikana killings might haunt Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa, who served on the Lonmin board when 34 miners were shot by the South African Police.
Ramaphosa has a long history in the mining industry and owned several mining companies during his career as a business man. He helped establish the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and was one of the first Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) beneficiaries. But the Ramaphosa tentacles runs more than just skin deep in the South African mining industry. He is married to Tshepo Motsepe, younger sister of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe (owner of African Rainbow Minerals). Patrice’s older sister, and thus Ramaphosa’s sister-in-law, Bridgette Radebe, is a mining mogul in her own right, and is the owner of Mmakau Mining, a company that produces platinum, gold, uranium, coal and chrome. Radebe is also the president of the South African Mining Development Association, or the Junior Mining Chamber, and has, on numerous occasions, called for a 51% black ownership in mining companies. Radebe is the wife of South Africa Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe. A family affair if there ever was one. The hope of Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa rests on the shoulders of these three men, let’s hope they live up to expectations.
About Leon Louw:
Leon specializes in African affairs and doing business in Africa, and has been writing about mining in Africa for 8 years. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has traveled Africa extensively, especially southern Africa. He has a BA degree with a specialization in African studies and an honours degree in Africa Politics. He also have a national diploma in Nature Conservation and an honours degree in Environmental Management. It is is passion to promote business in Africa and I can assist companies that are interested in doing business in African countries.
You can see his work at African Mining and Mining Mirror and online at http://www.miningafricaonline.co.za/.