Johannesburg - Retired businessman and former AngloGold Ashanti boss, Bobby Godsell, yesterday criticised the lack of leadership in the mining industry amid uncertainty following the recent appointment of little known Mosebenzi Zwane as Minister of Mineral Resources.
Godsell was addressing captains of the mining industry on day one of the 2015 Joburg Indaba: Investing in Resources and Mining held in Johannesburg where he blamed President Jacob Zuma for playing musical chairs with the position of mining minister.
“This is the time when leaders need to stand up. It was a bit of a strange time to change leadership,” he said.
“We should be saying President Zuma why are we changing ministers now?” he asked.
Zwane has been generally badly received after taking over from Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was in the driving seat for 18 months. He was absent at the meeting, an indication of the precarious state of leadership in the sector.
Zwane made his first statement as minister on Tuesday after saluting the end of the eight-day strike in the coal sector.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which led 30 000 members on a wage strike, had reached a two-year wage deal with coal producers Anglo Coal, Delmas, Exxaro, Kangra, Koornfontein, Msobo and Glencore.
Ramatlhodi was making progress in addressing the jobs crisis in mining, Godsell said.
He led the government, business and organised labour in the signing of a commitment to limit retrenchments at the end of August in response to the downturn in global commodity prices.
James Motlatsi, a founding member of the NUM and one of the speakers at the event, said before changing ministers, the government should inform the Chamber of Mines, as well as organised labour.
“The industry should be informed about any changes in the cabinet,” he said.
Earlier former finance minister Trevor Manuel said the mining sector needed to think about what its long-term vision was in both South Africa and Africa, and how to engage with the government to ensure that vision could be made a reality.
“Those who took risks and made investments during the early 2000s were rewarded handsomely when the cycle turned. Now is the time for bold leadership and many of the people in this room need to provide the direction and leadership,” he said.
Godsell said regulatory uncertainty was a major problem in the mining sector. He added that the courts were not a solution for resolving the legacy of silicosis and tuberculosis as ex-miners had taken gold companies to court. “Organised labour and the industry should work together to solve problems. No court order will change sick people,” he said.
The Chamber of Mines and the Department of Mineral Resources have approached the courts to clarify empowerment clauses in the mining charter.
“The biggest failure in mining has been change of ownership. We need to find ways in which mines benefit everyone, including workers,” Godsell said.