Perth: The “bedlam” of Marikana should not be treated as a permanent feature of the mining sector in South Africa, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu told the Australian and African mining industry here today.
She reassured investors at the Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth that the “recent challenges” facing the South African mining industry were “short-term in nature”.
She said she had a “modicum of confidence” that global mining investors knew that “there have been more days of halcyon than the ephemeral bedlam of last August”.
Shabangu urged investors to support her government’s efforts to redress the historic injustices to miners and warned them to moderate their expectation of returns on investment in South Africa so as to contribute to crucial socio-economic development.
The minister defended her government’s mining policies, saying they recognised the need to grow the economy, “balanced with the importance of redressing inherited man-made inequalities that continue to torment”.
The government’s regulatory reform had achieved this “milestone” by effectively introducing a “social licence to operate” for mining companies, Shabangu said.
“What is needed today is implementation and not a conversation about models such as ‘resource nationalism’.
“In the recent years, this concept has been extensively exhausted and bedded in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.
“The renewed proponents of resource nationalism are intent on reneging their environmental and social legacy, using arguments such as mitigating exposure to developing economies as being good for their share price.
“It baffles one’s mind that such proponents leading companies founded in such developing countries can perceive their founding cradle as risky,” Shabangu said.
The minister did not name the companies she was criticising although she earlier referred to a “cynical and disengaged article” which had been written in the 1990s by Mike O’Dowd, chairman of Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, “in which he claimed that South Africa will muddle through the transition”.
This was a view held by many inside and outside the country.
Despite this, South Africa had “reached an unprecedented apex”, she said, quoting the political economist JP Landman who had told the Cape Town Press Club last week that South Africans should start taking a “long-term view” of South Africa, looking beyond the “immediate drama of the country’s headlines”.
“He further challenges the conventional wisdom that South Africa is on the verge of collapse, an implosion.
“To the contrary, economic growth recorded 3.1 percent in 2010, 3.5 percent in 2011 and 2.5 percent in 2012, which hardly confirms a disaster. The basis for growth is deeply rooted in democratic policies and fiscal discipline.”
Shabangu said the “conversation on Marikana” had to be seen in the context of the ANC government’s efforts to rewrite the “repugnant” policies of the apartheid era and hated policies such as the Natives Land Act of 1913 which had been “geared towards disenfranchising blacks and forced them to provide cheap labour to the development of mines”.
“The mining regulatory reform sought not only to correct 100 years of repression, but to balance this with development of the mining industry in a responsible and sustainable manner.” - The Star