Victor Kgomoeswana
Start showing your interest and don't miss my next tender briefing. Africa needs a band of no-nonsense Afro-optimists and social engineers to fix its age-old economic problems.

They need to make our governments manipulation-proof with a sense of urgency and teach big business how to be good corporate citizens - for the Motherland.

But, first, we need to prepare those tender documents. Who's with me?

Because the no-nonsense African heroes, such as Amilcar Cabral, Thomas Sankara and Patrice Lumumba, were killed by corporatocracy, we had to up our game.

Anyone keen to submit their bid had better be aware they will be up against three tough guys we have pre-qualified: Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Denzel Washington.

For this tender, however, these thespians must bid as their suitably effective characters in one of their memorable movies.

We want solutions, now; no more time-wasting court cases between the Chamber of Mines and the minister of mineral resources.

We would have deployed cadres like Paul Kagame and John Magufuli but they are engaged elsewhere. Kagame is running for president in Rwanda in less than a week and Magufuli is living up to his name,The Bulldozer, wrestling multinational mining companies in Tanzania. Ask Acacia Mining, who got pummelled with a $190 billion (R2.4trillion) fine.

Since these decisive incumbent African leaders aren't available, our Hollywood icons are the next best thing. Al Pacino will feature as Toni Montana in Scarface, Joe Pesci as the cantankerous Nicky Santoro in Casino and Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas in American Gangster.

Granted, these characters either end up dead or, in the case of Lucas, turn State witness, but at least they prove that the only way to get what you want is to go after it, kitchen knife and all.

Otherwise, how else can we tell African governments and multinationals not to toy with making the economy more inclusive through such interventions as skills development, employment equity, enterprise and supplier development in favour of black people?

Are court cases the best we can do to advance broad-based black economic empowerment in a country that is 90% black?

I watched in utter horror to see that, after first causing the market tremors in 2001/2 when Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was minerals and energy minister, we are still tinkering with targets, procedure and "once-empowered-always-empowered".

We had many iterations or interpretations of the charter, the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act, and more than 10 editions of the Mining Indaba, among other gestures of good intent. We even had Marikana, to prove that equity in our economy and the industry remains that elusive will-o'-the-wisp.

Still, a simple issue like raising the ownership target from 26% to 30% cannot be resolved by the collective of Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and the Chamber of Mines.

The Chamber isn't going to court to "avoid transformation" but to "engage properly with the government and other stakeholders on the way ahead, and to agree on a rational, pragmatic, effective new charter", said chief executive Roger Baxter, in a Mail & Guardian debate with Thebe Mabanga.

Knowing, Baxter, I believe him; trouble is, we are not moving - not on growth, not on beneficiation and not on better living conditions for mining communities.

Baxter warned against perpetuating or aggravating the damage. He mentioned listed mining stocks "losing R51bn of the value of their market capitalisation in response to the department of mineral resources publishing its new mining charter".

Does anyone have the chutzpah to tell that to Nicky Santoro or Toni Montana? If you did, Santoro would stab you repeatedly with anything, even a ballpoint pen, while Montana would warn you one last time to "fly straight", and you would get it.

Just like the National Health Insurance stagnation, this mining transformation ping-pong personifies the yawning gap between the two (South) Africas, lined with apathy and indifference.

If our imploding socio-economic climate has not scared us enough to hurry, it's doomsday.

* Kgomoeswane is the author of Africa is Open for Business, a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs, and a weekly columnist for African Independent - Twitter Handle: @VictorAfrica

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent

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