DMR Minister Mosebenzi Zwane speaking at the BBC breakfast held in Sandton, Johannesburg.Photo Supplied
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has stuck to his guns and defended the controversial Mining Charter III, telling the Black Business Council (BBC) on Friday that it would not only promote the participation of black people in the economy, but would also provide investor certainty in the industry

Zwane reiterated his call for the economy to be changed fundamentally, charging that the current status quo precluded the majority of South Africans from participating meaningfully.

He said the targets set out in the charter were clear and achievable.

“The charter brings about the much-sought policy certainty that the investment community and the mining industry have been requesting from government since the review of the charter began,” he told a receptive audience.

“The targets and timelines are clear and we believe they are realistic and achievable. We engaged with stakeholders for over a year after the draft charter was gazetted in April 2016.”

Zwane has faced a barrage of criticism over the timing of the charter in an ailing industry that has already lost more than 70000 jobs in the five years.

His detractors blamed him for causing further damage after mining houses listed on the JSE lost R53 billion in market cap on the day the charter was gazetted.

The Chamber of Mines has particularly taken exception to the gazetting, citing targets, including those that order mining right holders to pay one percent of their annual turnover to black owners before any distributions to shareholders.

The chamber, which represents 90 percent of the industry by value, said this would threaten the viability of the sector.

Zwane suffered another setback early this month when he was forced to backtrack on his plan to implement a moratorium on the process of new applications for prospecting and mining rights.

But Zwane hit back on Friday, dismissing the chamber’s claim that it had not been adequately consulted as not above those raised by black entrepreneurs, mining communities and workers.

Zwane said the majority of South Africans did not own even a quarter of our mineral resources.

He also asserted that the ones who participated would never realise full ownership of these resources.

“Access to meaningful mining opportunities is still limited to a few. Mining operations have a tendency of directing non-core mining opportunities to black-owned companies, while critical core mining opportunities are reserved for white-owned firms. The majority of black entrepreneurs battle to access the capital required for mining ventures,” Zwane said.

Friday marked the second meeting between Zwane and the BBC since the gazetting of the charter. Last month Zwane held a meeting with BBC president, Danisa Baloyi, and her executives to discuss the mining legislative framework.

This was part of his commitment to address the broader membership of the BBC on the critical matter of the meaningful transformation of the mining sector.

Baloyi said earlier on Friday that radical economic transformation should not be seen as “a swear word”.

“The only way to change what is happening is if we agree that we live in an unequal society,” she said.

Baloyi also berated business for an investment strike, which she said was stifling the prospects of radical economic transformation.

“The value chain is tight. We are sitting on piles and piles of cash. Radical economic transformation cannot happen when we are sitting on cash which can be deployed,” she said.