THE fact that South Africa still did not have a suitable mining cadastral system in operation a year after he had given his department a six month deadline to deliver it was “a thorn in my flesh”, according to Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
He was responding to media questions at the PGM’s Industry Day held in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Mantashe had made the delivery prediction on the system at the same conference in March last year. He admitted he was still not in a position to state when the new system would be introduced.
The new system is needed to replace the SAMRAD (South African Mineral Resources Administration System) system which government launched in 2011, but which proved to be an unworkable disaster.
Mining cadastral systems are crucial for the efficient identification of ownership over prospecting rights and the granting of new prospecting rights to exploration companies.
South Africa has been outclassed in this regard by neighbouring countries like Botswana and Namibia which have attracted far greater investment from exploration companies compared with South Africa despite South Africa’s more attractive geology.
Government’s inability to deliver on this has seriously frustrated the industry. In June last year Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter commented: “The Minister has admitted the licencing regime is a shambles and that SAMRAD does not work.
“We are at the cusp of seeing some changes but those changes need to be implemented. I can sit here and say we have made all this progress but it counts for nux unless we see an exploration plan released and see the adoption of a globally competitive cadastral system.”
Asked what precisely was holding up delivery of the system Mantashe cited government bureaucracy. He commented: “I worked in the trade union movement for 25 years. In the trade union movement decisions are taken and you have it.
“In government you have to go and ask for the procurement framework to be drawn up and all that. It’s a long process. At least they have said yes now. The cadastral system is out to tender and we are hoping to implement it. We are hoping it will be on stream sooner rather than later.”
Asked for a more accurate prediction on when the new system would be introduced Mantashe replied: “I am working on it. I have learnt not to put time frames on things over which I do not have full control.”
Regarding the issue of South Africa losing out on exploration to countries like Botswana and Namibia Mantashe said the reasons lay with the South African government but also the “greater freedom in society” allowed in South Africa.
“Government is to blame, I know that. But sometimes it is the freedom in society that tends to be an obstacle.”
Mantashe cited as an example the environmental opposition to Shell’s proposed seismic testing for oil and gas along South Africa’s eastern coastline which was blocked through legal action in December.
He commented: “That was not exploration. It was to check if there was a deposit present so that they could move to the next step which would be exploration.
“They were taken to Court. That does not happen in our neighbouring countries. So that’s why Shell gets harassed out of the Eastern Cape and it goes to Namibia and discovers oil.”
The truth is there are no skills left in DMRE to manage the development of such a system.
Secondly, the corrup officials use the current failed system to manipulate the system.
The new system must be outsourced. They need to create a separate entity to house the information cadastre. The logical solution would be Council for Geoscience. But for some reason that is not acceptable for DMRE.
Lets talk about the elephant in the room.
Any system is just as good as the person working with it.
Then NMPS system at its time in 2004 was world class. Due to incompetency within the DMR, the system was never maintained or updated. Officials were also not”forced”to use the system and and it very quickly became unreliable, hence the numerous competing applications and double granting of rights.
Samrad started as a good idea. Due to incompetency of the project team and unreachable promises made to the Director General at the time, the system was implemented too fast and never properly tested.
They also failed to transfer reliable date from the one system to the next system.
Thus Samrad data was corrupt from day one.
So, everybody blame the poor SAMRAD system, etc for the failures. It is not correct. The failures are not system based, its purely human error based.
The failures start with Management who do not manage and ensure that officials are doing their work properly.
The so-called backlog of processing is purely their own making. if they only concentrated on the 14 days rule of acceptance/ rejection of applications it will be a good start. But it still take them up to 6 months to do a basic acceptance/ rejection and by then the region have received several applications for same land and mineral and the system is open for manipulation and which result in appeals upon appeals.
The DMRE must realize that unless they themselves start to use the systems and ensure accurate data, no system will work.
The ultimate blame is on one person only, the accounting officer of DMRE, The DG. He has been appointed to manage his Department.
In an article in Mining news SA dated 11 Oct 2017 the following was stated…”There are further claims that Tshivhandekano was then again suspended for accessing the department’s operating system, Samrad – another allegation described as spurious.”
Its open knowledge that officials do not have access to SAMRAD…its only accessible to certain officials… which is ridiculous. Each and every official processing an application should have access to SAMRAD to update, etc…..
My last statement is that the DMRE structure is totally outdated. Each region only have one Spatial Information Officer. Regions still have numerous Mineral Laws Administration Officer.
In the old manual days, MLA Officers did the checking for overlaps, etc. These days the Information Officer is responsible for it. In reality the MLA only write the submission to recommend granting or refusal.
Its thus clear that MLA need to be retrained to do spatial capturing, etc as in modern life DMRE require more Information officers per region and way less MLA Officials.
Again a management matter.
So Minister Mantashe, stop blaming SAMRAD. Blame your Management team. They are responsible for this mess. Next time, try to appoint competent Managers.
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