MATHEWS Phosa, the former Mpumalanga premier and ANC treasurer who is expected to run for the presidency of the ruling party later this year, said he would stop the current charter redraft in its tracks in favour of launching a more consultative process.
“I would re-look at all the charters and see what is in the interests of the country,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Junior Indaba conference in Johannesburg today.
“We would need a huge economic Codesa where there would be input by the stakeholders themselves.” He was referring to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, a series of plenary sessions which took place in the Nineties and which were key in the formulation of the country’s first democratic government.
The South African government’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) is thought to be preparing to gazette the third Mining Charter, the contents of which may well have been heavily changed since last negotiated with the mining sector as represented by the country’s Chamber of Mines.
The latest information is that in addition to an increase in the black economic empowerment (BEE) ownership targets to 30% from 25%, there’s also specifics about the designation of certain minerals which may give the mines minister discretion over export duties and preferential domestic pricing.
Said Phosa: “I wouldn’t be dictatorial. Check my record: when I was premier, I always consulted. There is no way you can change the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” he said in reference to the speculated Mining Charter alterations.
Earlier, in a keynote speech at the Junior Indaba, Phosa was critical of the lack of efficiency in the DMR, saying that it took too long to be awarded mining and water use licences.
“It is dysfunctional,” he told reporters when asked to reiterate his views on the DMR, but he added that in a recent meeting with Mosebenzi Zwane, the mines minister, he was listened to. “He seemed to be receptive,” he said.
“I think it is totally dysfunctional. There needs to be alignment. There must be a way of fast-tracking rights because that is delaying investment. It is just taking too long,” he said.
Since leaving the Mpumalanga premiership, Phosa has consulted for business, but in 2012 he unsuccessfully ran for the deputy presidency of the ANC, losing out to Cyril Ramaphosa but winning more votes than rival Tokyo Sexwale.
Phosa said he would run for the presidency against Ramaphosa and Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma, the former president of the African Union, but added that he would have to be nominated first.
He said “rooting out the crust of corruption” was a necessity, however. Asked what he would prioritise were he president of the ANC, he pointed to a broad investigation of corruption within the ANC and prosecution of those found guilty.
“All cabinet ministers must take responsibility; there is no point just pointing the finger at Zuma when they protect him,” said Phosa in his keynote address.
“Radical economic looting is a better description [than radical economic transformation]. This is leading to radical decline and uncertainty. Some in cabinet have belatedly found their voices, but it is not what you say, but what you do,” he said. “Future generations will look on our actions and find them treacherous; they are bordering on the indefensible.”