SA minerals cadastre dead in the water as Government resorts to full blown bout of finger pointing

SA mines minister, Gwede Mantashe.

THE reason why the South African government had failed to deliver on its promise to modernise the minerals licensing process is because it can’t win the support of the auditors tasked with procurement oversight, said BusinessLive.

Citing Luvuyo Keyise, MD of the State Information and Technology Agency (Sita), BusinessLive said auditors had raised questions about the procurement of technology that the Department of Mineral Resources & Energy (DMRE) had not answered.

Five of the six members of Sita’s procurement committee were DMRE officials, said BusinessLive. Sita is in charge of running tenders for information technology solutions on behalf of all government departments by dint of a parliamentary act.

Keyise told BusinessLive that the issues raised by the auditors were “serious” matters. “It is not Sita that is sitting not doing anything. It is Sita waiting for the department’s evaluators to come and answer to the auditors,” Keyise said.

He was responding to a comment by Patricia Gamede, acting director-general at the DMRE, who had earlier said the delay progressing the minerals licensing system, or cadastre, was Sita’s fault as it had not made any progress.

But Keyise told BusinessLive: “Instead of people answering, they (DMRE) are running”.

The lack of a well functioning, transparent system to process applications for mineral and exploration rights has been a running sore in South Africa’s mining industry for years.

The problem was acknowledged by Gwede Mantashe, mines and energy minister who a year ago urged for a fast-tracked, six month delivery of a new cadastre which had been publicly undertaken by the DMRE a year before that, in 2020.

Paul Miller, a director of AmaranthCX, a consultancy, said in October 2020 that the new cadastre was almost certainly dead in the water.

Mantashe confirmed this himself this week when, answering questions during the Platinum Day conference in April organised by the Joburg Indaba, he threw in the towel in respect of delivery promises. The new cadastre was “a thorn in my flesh,” he said.

“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.”