Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says those who are opposed to the controversial new Mining Charter gazetted last week do not want to be part of a progressive country, but instead want to see black people enslaved.
“Anybody who doesn’t not like to see black people empowered, anybody who still wants to see black people like slaves, raise up their hands [sic] and say, we are not part of the progressive South Africa we want to build,” Zwane on Friday told reporters at a community imbizo in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, to discuss the charter.
Zwane said government wanted to build a “rainbow nation” to ensure that the economy did not continue to divide citizens along racial lines.
“We want to build a rainbow nation and ensure that our economy does not continue to divide us in terms of race and colour. Nobody amongst all these people who are saying charter this, charter that, disputes the fact that there is still serious inequality in South Africa between the majority of the people who happen to be black, and the minority of business people who happen to be white,” he said.
The meeting with the community had to be cancelled after an angry crowd disrupted it and demanded to be addressed by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza instead.
Though community members said they supported the new charter, the minister said he would return to Middelburg with Mabuza to inform residents about “their charter”, which prescribes 30% black ownership of companies who seek to acquire new mining rights.
“We’ll come back and engage the premier and even pass the message [that] the people want you to be there … I have thought it wise not to divide the community of Mpumalanga as a minister. It is important that black people must unite and focus on the task at hand,” Zwane said.
The reviewed mining charter has drawn widespread criticism from the sector, particularly from the Chamber of Mines, which intends to challenge the document in court. The organisation said the charter’s targets were unworkable and could lead to capital flight.
Zwane said he was willing to engage with the sector on its concerns.
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— Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (@DMRE_ZA) June 23, 2017