Mosebenzi Zwane File picture: Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - The chambers of Mines last night (Tuesday) snubbed Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, refusing to attend a Joburg Indaba gala dinner in which he was expected to deliver a keynote address.

The chamber decided to forego the key highlight of the local mining calendar which brings industry stakeholders under one roof.
Chamber spokesperson Charmane Russell, said yesterday: “I can confirm that the chamber leadership will not be attending the dinner this evening, but will be there tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday. Both chamber chief executive Roger Baxter and chamber president Mxolisi Mgojo will be speaking,” she said without giving further details.

The breakdown in relations between Zwane and the industry became evident at the annual Africa Down Under conference held in Perth Australia last month when Baxter questioned Zwane’s credibility as a minister.

At the meeting Zwane told investors that the controversial mining charter, which was gazetted in June, had become law, despite a legal challenge on the proposal by the chamber. The chamber, which represents 90 percent of the industry by value, applied to the court to have the charter interdicted. Zwane, last month said in that the charter would not be implemented until a legal review was heard in December.

Zwane was expected to make his debut appearance at the fifth annual Joburg Indaba gala dinner where 300 mining industry players including chief executives, lawyers, union leaders and accountants were expected to attend.

The line-up of speakers includes opposition leader Mmusi Maimane, ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, Sipho Nkosi, former Exxaro Resources chief executive, Cosatu founding general secretary Jay Naidoo and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa.
Indaba chairman and former Harmony Gold chief executive Bernard Swanepoel yesterday accused both the chamber and the Department of Mineral Resources of behaving like ‘children’.

“The chamber does not want to participate in the gala dinner tonight, and, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) said it is not comfortable coming on Wednesday and Thursday. It is frustrating. I feel like a school principal with kids in a sandpit. Both sides are childish. It is improper for the DMR to not attend a high-profile event,” he said.
Swanepoel said the Indaba  was by the industry for industry.

“It is about having an honest and blunt conversation with all stakeholders under one roof, “he said adding that the controversial mining charter would not be the subject of the discussion.

“We do not plan to waste time on the charter. We had the debate on the charter last year and nothing came out of it because it was gazetted. This year the discussion will be about future of the industry". “We will be asking what could we be in the future? How do we get there?What is inclusive growth?"

- BUSINESS REPORT