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GUPTAS’ OPTIMUM MINE FACES COURT ACTION & THREATS OF A ‘RADICAL DEMONSTRATION’

HENDRINA - Eyewitness News has learnt that Optimum coal mine is now being taken to court by another mining company in an effort to have the Gupta-owned mine either placed in business rescue or liquidated.

Optimum mine owes service providers over R60 million.

Derko Mining and Exploration has filed court papers in the High Court in Pretoria.

About 2,000 workers downed tools at the Hendrina-based mine in Mpumalanga on Wednesday worried that they wouldn’t receive their salaries.

Derko mining is seeking recourse from the courts to have money paid to them.

Optimum has been given five days to file notice to oppose the matter and if Optimum fails to do this, the case will be enrolled to be heard on 27 February.

Cleaning, transportation and other service providers have not been paid by Optimum.

Workers are hoping to be paid on Friday. However, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has threatened to intensify its protest if the mine fails to pay employees by Friday midnight.

The mine’s COO has told workers, who briefly demonstrated outside the mine on Thursday, that he is not sure if they will be paid on Friday.

“Bank of Baroda delays changing these dollars into rand so that I can get local currencies to pay.”

NUM branch chair Goodwill Mthombeni says the mine should brace itself for a more radical demonstration.

“People are being provoked now following the response by the COO. We believe what will happen tomorrow will be more than what has happened before.”

 

Source – Eyewitness News

 

Phosa condemns charter tinkering, urges growth negotiations

JOHANNESBURG – Stop tinkering with sector charters and instead negotiate them in a manner that creates room for sizable growth, African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee member Dr Mathews Phosa urged on Wednesday.

Delivering the keynote address at the Junior Indaba, the former premier of Mpumalanga was speaking a day after Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane announced that the upcoming third iteration of the Mining Charter would be gazetted next week and would contain the “designation of minerals” in support of government’s policy of mineral beneficiation.

“We need to negotiate charters that satisfy stakeholders and not continue to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game,” Phosa instructed.

The strategic uncertainty and the non-consultative nature of the current policy process did not, he said, help investment in the mining sector and created hesitancy.

The wild and populist utterances of some leaders regarding the empowerment process did not help growth and stability in what he described as “our sector, because I’m also involved in mining”.

He pilloried the Department of Mineral Resources for taking excessive time to process mining right applications and demanded urgent action on illegal mining.

“To get a mining right is a painful time. It’s a red tape time, and getting water rights is a big headache,” he said.

Legal miners were all struggling for rights and were forced to pay royalties and taxes, yet large numbers of illegal miners, particularly on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex, were not bothering about rights, and had no royalties or taxes to pay.

Phosa had approached the Minister directly on this matter and had been given an undertaking by the Minister that action would be taken against illegal mining.

“So, let’s see what happens,” he told the Junior Indaba conference attended by Mining Weekly Online.

He described South Africa as a country in dire need of drastic political and economic change and praised the judiciary for being the only centre of constitutional power that is functioning.

At the very least, South Africa needed new political leadership, urgent changes to the education system, and consensus between all stakeholders on how to revive the “rainbow spirit in our nation”.

What was taking place under current political leadership was “radical economic looting”, and Phosa criticised the ANC’s party discipline for having crossed the border between right and wrong and said the organisation had lost its moral compass.

After apartheid, the Zuma/Gupta scandal was the worst crime against the people of South Africa.

To attract the foreign investment, the country needed to treat education as a national key strategic project and ask leaders from the private sector to join government to fund and execute educational programmes of the highest excellence.

The country needed to revisit programmes that focused on practical reconciliation between all the citizens of South Africa and to redefine the economic strategy to incentivise the private sector and foreign investors to create jobs in the short term.

He also urged that broadband roll-out stopped being imprisoned in indecision and that State electricity utility Eskom appoint totally new leadership.

“Stop tinkering with sector charters as if it is academic exercise. Negotiate charters that will satisfy stakeholders but also create room for sizable growth,” Phosa said.

Source : Mining Weekly

Molefe removed as Eskom CEO, board might go too

Government on Wednesday ordered that Brian Molefe’s return to the helm of Eskom be rescinded and conceded that it had inflicted reputational harm on the country and the power utility.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown told a media briefing she had met with the Eskom board and instructed it to remove Molefe from the post, following a decision by an inter-ministerial commission that considered the circumstances surrounding his controversial reappointment earlier this month.

Brown said she would appoint an acting CEO within 48 hours, and hinted that she could also remove the board next month over the debacle that drew criticism from the ruling African National Congress and sent the opposition to court to demand Molefe’s removal. She said she would, however, wait until after Eskom’s annual general meeting in three weeks’ time.

She would not act sooner so as not to cause “more scurrying in the markets”.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba concurred that “there obviously has to be some consequences for this situation that we have come out of”.

Brown said it was not clear to her at this stage whether Molefe would receive a termination pay-out, and she would discuss the issue with the board.

“I have an idea in my head but I can’t put my head on the table,” she said, adding that she had not spoken to Molefe, but left it to the board to inform him of government’s decision.

Molefe left Eskom under a cloud in November last year after he was implicated in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on State capture.

He was reappointed to his old post two weeks ago, for the stated reason that he had mistakenly been granted early retirement which would entitle him to a pension pay-out of R30-million, a move that was vetoed by Brown.

The ministerial committee said on Wednesday it was of the view that the board could have corrected the administrative errors relating to Molefe’s contract in other ways than reinstating him.

“We are saying that the decision that was taken was unfortunate,” Gigaba said.

“The events of the last three weeks have been quite painful in a number of ways…. the board, if it sought to correct the anomalies in the issues that arose when the group CE resigned or retired, they could have done so administratively without having taken the decision that they took.

“It has caused government a lot of harm… it has caused Eskom itself a lot of reputational damage, it has caused board members a lot of reputational damage.”

Gigaba stressed that government’s decision should not be seen as a reflection on Molefe, who previously headed Transnet and served as an ANC MP for a few months this year.

“He is well capable. He has proven himself in a number of his previous responsibilities. We believe he still has an enormous contribution to make to the country, in whatever way it will be.”

He added: “There is no decision on our part of where he is going, there are no plans to appoint him anywhere else.”

Justice Minister Michael Masutha, who led the media briefing, said Eskom had been forced to make serious concessions in the papers it filed in opposing the Democratic Alliance’s court application to have Molefe removed, including that his contract wrongly allowed him to retire at the age of 50, his current age.

He said, however, the IMC’s decision should not be read as any reflection on what the outcome of the application may have been.

After the announcement that Molefe’s contract was terminated, the DA’s public enterprises spokeswoman, Natasha Mazzone, said it was imperative that a full-scale parliamentary probe be instituted into the state of affairs at Eskom.

Brown last week announced that she would be asking the Special Investigating Unit to investigate procurement problems at Eskom from 2007, to review all evidence gathered in the scope of seven separate investigations in recent years. This would include an investigation by PricewaterhouseCoopers that found that Eskom had failed to do due diligence when it hastily awarded a coal contract to the Gupta family’s Tegeta Exploration in 2015.

Molefe and Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane on Tuesday assured Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that there had been nothing untoward about the deal as Eskom frequently concluded coal contracts without a competitive tender to prevent load-shedding.

Source : Mining Weekly