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Mboweni calls for clarity on policy

The government needed to communicate better on what its policies were and also needed to limit the number of people who were allowed to speak on these policies, Tito Mboweni, the former Reserve Bank governor and current chairman of AngloGold Ashanti, told a lunch meeting hosted by law firm ENS yesterday in Cape Town.

Mboweni told the meeting on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba that the Mangaung conference had adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) as the ANC policy.

“This makes life very easy, when someone asks what the ANC policy is on a particular issue we just refer them to the NDP,” Mboweni said.

He added that part of the confusion around what was ANC economic policy was generated by the media and part was generated by those who opposed the ANC.

“Part of the confusion is also caused by the grammar of the NDP document,” he said.

Mboweni noted that with regard to the mining sector, “the document speaks about state intervention… but in every country there is state intervention” in this sector.

He referred to AngloGold’s operations in Australia, Argentina, Brazil and the US – where there were often very difficult types of government intervention that mining firms had to deal with.

Mboweni said the ANC was currently trying to determine, as it moved from an emphasis on nationalisation, what role the state could play in the mining sector.

“The key issue for the private sector, which doesn’t like state involvement, is what’s the acceptable balance. I’m in favour of a reasonable mix.”

He was adamant that the mining sector was not going to be a major job creator in the future and said that its direct share of the economy had slumped to about 5 percent.

He said that he had just spent 12 days meeting with international investment houses around the world and that while it was encouraging that most had retained their investment focus on South Africa, some were putting it on a watch list.

The former governor urged the government to communicate its policies better. “If I was in charge, only the minister of mines and the president could speak on mining, only three people could speak on the exchange rate – the governor of the Reserve Bank, the minister of finance and the president… only two people could speak on industrial policy – the minister of trade and industry and the president.” He said there were too many voices and too many messages and this was not good for business. – Ann Crotty page 14

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