Sorry, mining investors aren’t buying the Cyril and Gwede act
Air of cynicism won’t disappear until incompetence is rooted out and corruption results in trials and jail time
There was a distinct air of cynicism at the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba this year despite the copious reassurances coming from President Cyril Ramaphosa and mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe.
As veterans of SA’s National Union of Mineworkers, with Ramaphosa an instrumental player in making it SA’s most powerful union in the 1980s and 1990s, both men understand the mining sector.
Ramaphosa became the first sitting SA president to address the annual conference in its 25-year history. He went out of his way to placate nerves and soothe fears. He addressed as well as he could the concerns that have resulted in a very cautious approach by mining companies and investors towards the country.
He spoke of the need to deal with the crisis in Eskom. He said investors shouldn’t worry that their assets would be seized in the government’s planned land expropriation without compensation. He said his government and law enforcement agencies were getting on top of the corruption that has become so much a feature of politics and business.
Mantashe stressed regulatory certainty coming from a fiercely debated Mining Charter and the scrapping of amendments to the Minerals and Petroleum Act.
But still there was cynicism.
Basically, investors remain unconvinced after nine years of Jacob Zuma and the corruption and incompetence that flourished during his presidency, the antiquated liberationist rhetoric coming from the ANC, and apparent inaction on corrupt ministers and other high-ranking officials.
Ramaphosa has to tackle head on the most difficult and politically dangerous problem facing him – ensuring his corrupt comrades are arrested, tried and jailed. Nothing will send a stronger message that he is serious and that his words can be taken seriously.