The Committee met to consider and adopt its Legacy Report and the report of the High Level Panel, and Members gave their farewell speeches as the Fifth Parliament closed.
The Chairperson appreciated the immense contributions of Dr Martin Nicol, the Committee Researcher, who presented the Legacy Report based on the urgent and important matters that had emanated from the work of the Committee.
The urgent matters dealt with the investments necessary to make mining a sunrise industry; transformation to boost the image of the mining industry; and protection of the environment for future generations and compensation of mineworkers who were injured at work. Important matters involved the continuous rehabilitation of government-owned mines at a faster rate than 43 per year; prevention of illegal mining; continuous improvement of mine health and safety; commemoration of the sacrifices of mineworkers; support for enhanced research and development for mining; screening of business rescue practitioners and provisional liquidators; and an improvement in the annual budgetary allocation to the mining sector, amongst others.
Members commended the Legacy Report presentation. Nevertheless, the removal of the transformation agenda from urgent matters was proposed, with a suggestion that the Committee should focus on a compliance and monitoring model that worked. All Members acknowledged the need for transformation in the mining sector, but differed on how it should be implemented.
Members said their farewells, as this was the Committee’s last meeting after five years in office. Key sentiments expressed were appreciation of the opportunity to serve on the Committee, and recognition that they had worked together as a family despite their diverse political and ideological positions. Members commended the administrative staff for their excellent performance, and also expressed gratitude for the outstanding performance of Dr Nicol, who would soon retire from Parliament.
They urged the Department of Mineral Resources to try harder during the forthcoming term in order to achieve better results, and to drive transformation in the industry.
The Chairperson suggested that in-coming presiding officers should compulsorily attend a specialised development training course in order to succeed in their Parliamentary duties. He expressed satisfaction with the job done by the Committee over the past five years, and was optimistic about bequeathing a vibrant Committee to the Sixth Parliament.
He said that Dr Martin Nicol, the Committee Researcher, would be retiring from the Parliament after attaining the retirement age of 65 years, and invited him to present the Legacy Report to the Committee.
Committee’s Legacy Report
Dr Nicol said that the substance of the Legacy Report was provided by a template that was dictated by the Committee section and Parliament. That was why it was very long. All of the issues that the Committee section had put into the Legacy Report had been drawn from the reports made by the Committee to the National Assembly over the last five years. The only part that was an invention was the first part, which tried to identify the highlights of the Report. The Chairperson had requested a summary of the highlights, which was formerly five pages, but they had been summarised into a single page.
He informed the Committee that there were costly investments to make mining a sunrise industry and to establish administrative integrity and competence in the Department to ensure a credible licensing system for the right to minerals. There was clarity on compensation for those impacted by mining and security of tenure for mining rights holders. All this led to growth and job creation.
The second point was transformation to build a positive image for mining. As the Minister had said, mining had a bad reputation, but it was a requirement of the Department to implement the Mining Charter and to drive transformation using the new Charter from March 1 2019, and it should present Parliament with a compliance monitoring model that would actually work. The compliance monitoring models that had been presented in the past had not worked, and this should include the social and labour plans.
The third point was to protect the environment for the future. There was a need to get the several departments that were responsible for mining, like the Departments of Water and Environment and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to work together to get polluters pay and rehabilitate mine sites in all cases to assist future generations, so that the problems of the DMR did not increase.
The fourth point was from mine workers’ perspective. The highest priority was for Parliament to finalise a harmonised compensation system for mine workers who were harmed at work to ensure that they got at least the same benefits as workers in other sectors who were injured through lung disease. The compensation issue had been delayed by the three departments since 1999.
The important points were just issues that arose from the work of the Committee. The first important point was the continuous rehabilitation of derelict and abandoned mine sites. The government was responsible for the mine sites and rehabilitation should occur at a faster rate than 43 sites per year, which was proposed in the performance plan and the budget this year. It had been reduced from 50.
Secondly, the DMR needed to collaborate with other Departments like Home Affairs, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other relevant departments. They needed to continue to improve mining safety and reduce the incidence of occupational diseases. They should pay attention to commemorating the sacrifices of mine workers, especially the graves of Evander and the memorials for the many mine disasters. There should be support for enhanced research and development for mining, as well as geological mapping and its stakeholder undertakings for the mining Phakisa.
The business rescue practitioners and provisional liquidators must not be allowed to deal with mines unless they know about mining. Conflicts between the mining, company, insolvency and financial provisions for mine closure laws must be dealt with by the several departments to avoid workers suffering, as had been the case at Optimum, Koornfontein, Lily Mine, Shiva, Blyvoor, Aurora and so on.
There must be a follow-up on the directives of the South African Human Resource Commission to ensure they are implemented by the Parliament. The amendment of mining legislation must be addressed. The last mining law passed was in 1910. Health and safety practitioners, state diamond traders and those involved with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) need to be knowledgeable about judicial pronouncements and learn from the lessons of problematic implementation.
The final point was to improve the budget allocation for mineral resources so that well-skilled people are employed to regulate or assist the mining industry development. Mining contributes in direct taxes and loyalties to the fiscus more than ten times the budget allocation from the Treasury.
The Chairperson said that the Legacy Report was expected to consolidate all the observations the Committee had made at the various mine sites and make appropriate recommendations on further work to the Sixth Parliament. The Committee had sought clarity from the DMR about health and safety compliance in mining sites. How many inspectors did the DMR have? What skills did they have? Where were they located in bulk by deployment? Under normal circumstances, how many mining health and safety inspectors did it need? What was the average age of the inspectors? These considerations would help to give a sense of direction to the in-coming Committee. The Chairperson also urged the Department to ensure effective leadership in order to take the mining industry forward.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) commended Dr Nicol’s presentation and agreed with the fact that the Parliament needed a compliance monitoring module that worked, as this was an urgent issue. He disagreed with the proposal to drive transformation in the mining industry, however. He believed that transformation was a political programme which his party did not support. He expressed caution about the important issue six of the Legacy Report, which dealt with the permission of business rescue practitioners and provisional liquidators in terms of their knowledge of mining. The implications of this might be extended to other businesses, and there might be legal complications.
Mr M Matlala (ANC) said that the commemoration of the sacrifices of mineworkers should not be limited to sites of recent disasters. Sites where disasters occurred in the past must also be considered. This would ensure that the government treated all cases accordingly. He cited an example of a mine site where 600 to 1 000 workers had perished in a single incident.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) proposed a grammatical correction to the content of important issue six of the Legacy Report. The statement should read: “Business rescue practitioners and provisional liquidators ought not be allowed to deal with mines unless they know about mining.” “Ought” should be used instead of “must.” The use of “ought” was discretionary and was more legally acceptable.
Adv Schmidt urged Committee members to avoid political sentiments when it came to the issue of transformation. He advised the Committee to delete the terms “drive transformation” from the second urgent issue. He suggested that the second urgent issue should simply read, “implementation of the new mining Charter”
The Chairperson said that the country could not afford to avoid the transformation agenda. All political parties strived for transformation one way or the other, irrespective of the political differences and ideologies. The major challenge was “how” the transformation would be achieved. The Chairperson spoke about the importance of the implementation of the new mining Charter.
Mr Lorimer said that the second urgent issue should deal only with a compliance monitoring model that worked.
The Chairperson argued that Mr Lorimer’s initial concern was the phrase “drive transformation,” and cautioned that the Committee in the Sixth Parliament might experience difficulties in its monitoring and oversight responsibilities over the Department if the new mining Charter was not implemented. Difference in political ideologies was a major challenge when it came to the transformation agenda. Since 1994, various parties had disagreed with the Constitution of the Republic, but they were among the custodians of the Constitution today. It was important that the DMR operated with a mining Charter. The Committee would have the responsibility of holding the Department accountable for its implementation. In response to Mr Lorimer’s concern about the phrase “drive transformation”, he maintained that the phrase was adequate as it presented the point in a milder way. He argued that the phrase “implement transformation” would be too strong and would suggest that there had been a general acceptance of the matter.
Mr Lorimer believed that the mining sector needed transformation, but not through the mining Charter. He said that the comparison the Chairperson made between the mining Charter and the Constitution was inadequate. He believed that the mining Charter and the Constitution were different matters.
The Chairperson defended the comparison he made between the mining Charter and the Constitution. He pointed out that the Constitution of the Republic had not been unanimously adopted, on every matter, but they had a duty to implement whatever had been legislated.
In response to Adv Schmidt’s concern, the Chairperson said that point six of the important issues should read,, “discourage business practitioners and provisional liquidators unless they know about mining”. He urged the DMR to develop a mechanism to manage business rescue practitioners and provisional liquidators on a continuous basis.
Mr N Mandela (ANC) proposed that the phrase “drive transformation” should be deleted, and that the Committee should rather focus on the implementation of the new mining Charter.
The Chairperson proposed that the DMR should present to the Parliament compliance and monitoring module that worked for the new mining Charter.
Adv Mokoena said that the implementation date of the new mining Charter was March 1, 2019. The DMR and other stakeholders had agreed on how the mining Charter should be implemented. Individuals who applied for mining rights after October 2018, when the Charter was promulgated, would be affected by the new mining Charter.
The Chairperson suggested that the date, 1 March 2019, should be removed.
Adv Schmidt supported his proposal. He said that the Committee and other stakeholders should focus on the implementation of a compliance monitoring module that would work, including social and labour plans.
The Chairperson reiterated the need for the DMR to develop a compliance monitoring module that would work. This would enable the Sixth Parliament to hold the Department accountable for the implementation of the new mining Charter. The problem with the old mining Charter was the lack of implementation.
In response to Mr Matlala’s concern about the commemoration of affected mineworkers, the Chairperson said that the event that occurred at Evander was important to the Committee because it was one of the first matters presented to it. Further, more than 1 000 graves were unaccounted for at Evander. The Committee had tried to investigate the matter, but a lot had been left to be uncovered by the Sixth Parliament. He said that the event at Evander was not only a disaster, but was a reality.
The Chairperson said that the Legacy Report was mere paperwork as far as the urgency of the matter was concerned. The in-coming Committee may have priorities different from the current Committee’s.
Adv Schmidt requested to know the person(s) responsible for the Report.
Adv Mokoena said that the Report was informed by the analysis and assessment in terms of the needs of the branch, which was the chief inspectorate of safety, so it had been done by the branch working together with the Mine Health and Safety Council, and the Department was therefore responsible for it. He said that the DMR had presented its challenges to the Committee in 2018 and the implementation of the contents of the Report would enable the branches to perform their duties.
Mr Mandela expressed concern about the numerous vacant positions for inspectors in the DMR. The Department had vacant positions for 130 inspectors, which had not been filled throughout the term of the Fifth Parliament. He urged the DMR to state the timeframe in which the vacant positions would be filled. He hoped that they would be filled in the Sixth Parliament.
The Chairperson gave an in-depth analysis of the vacant positions in respect of the resources of the DMR to fill the vacant positions. He said there were 18 vacant positions for inspectors in the Western Cape Province alone, for which only six positions had been budgeted. The variance of twelve was huge, and he urged the DG to give the actual number of vacant positions in terms of inspectors. He said the DMR should be ready to clarify the matter to the in-coming Committee.
Adv Mokoena said the DMR had previously informed the Committee of the challenges it faced. The mine health and safety inspectors would be employed as soon as the DMR had the resources. There was active discussion between him and the chief inspector of mines to fill the vacant posts. The DG had recently consulted with DDGs on how to fill all vacant positions, based on the request of the Minister. It was important to employ qualified individuals into different levels, including senior management. For example, all vacant DDGs posts had been filled. At the moment, the DMR was trying to finalise the appointment of Chief Directors and Directors. The appointment of mine health and safety inspectors would take place when the Department had the resources. The appointment of inspectors could be finalised in the Sixth Parliament.
Adv Schmidt sought clarity on the difference between mine health and safety inspectors and environmental inspectors.
Adv Mokoena said that the current focus was on mine health and safety inspectors. He suggested that a consolidated report was needed to deal with the appointment of environmental inspectors. He maintained that the appointment of mine safety and health inspectors was the priority at the moment. Nevertheless, the environment component, which also dealt with mineral regulation, was quite important.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee should adopt the Legacy Report with the proposed amendments. However, he suggested that there ought to be an addendum that informed the in-coming Committee to adopt a comprehensive format as it tried to work on a funding model for the DMR. The Committee would also need to consider the skills analysis that would be performed. It had to evaluate the comparative actual and existing vacancies. He instructed Dr Nicol to create columns that reflected the actual and existing vacant positions. The same format could be adopted for both environmental inspectors and mine safety and health inspectors. He emphasised the importance of skill specific to each mining site. Generalised skills might not suffice due to the peculiarity of each province. He observed that the Western Cape, being predominantly sandy in terms of geology, may have different geological reactions compared to the Free State, Gauteng, North West and so on. He said this task would be ensured by the next Committee.
Mr Mandela moved the adoption of the Legacy Report on Mineral Resources during the Fifth Parliament dated May 2014 to March 2019, with the proposed amendments.
The adoption was seconded by Ms Nyambi.
The Chairperson commended the administrative prowess of Ms Ayanda Boss, the Committee Secretary, and her commitment to ensuring that the Committee did things the right way.
High Level Report
The Chairperson then led the Committee to consider the Report of the High Level Panel (HLP).
He said that there were a number of issues that had been highlighted in Dr Aninka Claassens’ presentation. Point four of the Report dealt with the recommendations of the HLP. He noted an error on page four related to the chronological arrangement of the points -- the report by the DMR should be point five. He said that the Committee had not made any decisions on the recommendations of the DMR. However, it had concluded on the cases highlighted by the Human Rights Commission. He proposed that all outstanding issues be referred to the Sixth Parliament. The Committee had done all the works it had been given to do.
Mr Mandela moved the adoption of the proposal, and was seconded by Mr Matlala.
Adoption of minutes
The Chairperson asked the Committee to consider the minutes of the Committee meeting held on March 6, 2019.
Adv Schmidt corrected a typographical error on the second bullet on the fourth page. He said that the acronym for Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act was IPILRA, not ILPIRA.
The Chairperson said the farewell speeches would start with the DG, followed by Committee Members and finally by Dr Nicol, who would soon retire from the Parliament having attained the retirement age of 65 years.
Adv Mokoena thanked the Chairperson and Members for the opportunity to work with the Committee. He had been interacting with the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources since his appointment. He commended the approach adopted by the Committee in the exercise of its oversight duties. The Committee gave constructive criticism where necessary, and the Department took proactive measures to rectify where appropriate. He acknowledged that the Department learnt tremendously from interacting with the Committee. He was optimistic that the work of the Department would improve significantly in the Sixth Parliament. The Department was committed to performing its duties and to complying with all required prescripts. The Minister was committed to deliver all the promises he made after his appointment and had fulfilled most of them, especially the mining Charter three.
He said that the Minister had attended a meeting involving the Committee and other stakeholders from March 17 to March 18, 2018. Only one union had not been present at the meeting. The meeting had started the development of the new mining Charter. The participation and involvement of the Committee in the new mining Charter were vital as the Department could only play its regulatory and policy roles, which used to be a challenge in the mining industry.
The Department had recorded notable achievements since the inception of the mining Charter. It had a good working relationship with the mining industry. He thanked the Committee for being fundamental to the various achievements in the mining sector, and commended the maturity with which the Committee Members conducted their proceedings despite their political and ideological differences. He urged other committees to emulate the conduct of the Committee, and wished the Members success in the forthcoming elections. He observed that only R600 million came directly to the Department out of the R2 billion budget. He promised that the Department would consider all the concerns raised by Members. He was optimistic that the Department would deliver valuable benefit to the electorate who sent the Members to Parliament.
Adv Schmidt commended Ms Boss for her effective performance. He also appreciated the dexterity displayed by the Committee Chairperson, in comparison with former Chairpersons of the Committee. He thanked the Chairperson for being agreeing to be disagreeable or disagreeing to be agreeable, as the case may be. He commented that serving on the Committee could be one of the toughest tasks anyone may encounter. He appreciated the ability of the Chairperson to cope with criticism, even when it was not necessary. He urged the Department to get objective criteria in terms of monitoring and compliance. For example, the number of deaths or other unfortunate incidents should be compared with positive achievements, such as the improvement in mining hours and other benefits.
He urged the Department and other stakeholders not to politicise the mining industry. The mining industry should be run in a way to attract investors from various parts of the world without any fear of instability. He commended the efforts of Dr Nicol to incorporate every Member of the Committee and hoped he could come back from retirement to serve the Committee, even if it was on a contractual basis. He also commended the work of Adv Mokoena as the DG of the DMR. He had been sceptical of Adv Mokoena, since he had been appointed by the former Minister of the DMR. Adv Mokoena, however, had managed to survive the challenges and performed satisfactorily during since his appointment. He thanked all the Committee Members and the Chairperson.
Ms Mafolo thanked the Chairperson, administrative staff, Dr Nicol and the delegation from the Department. He thanked the Committee for support rendered during her trying moments, especially in 2018. She thanked Mr Mandela for driving the Committee in the right direction.
Mr Pikinini appreciated the opportunity to work in the Committee. It was a peaceful and effective Committee that worked as a family. He relished the determination of the Committee to overcome the numerous challenges it faced. It is commendable how the Committee members worked together, despite ideological and political differences, to positively impart the people they serve. He learned a lot from his colleagues. He noted that the masses will always vote for those who have the ability and are ready to serve.
Mr Matlala appreciated the job done by the administrative staff during both weekdays and weekends. He thanked the Chairperson and Committee Members, especially Adv Schmidt -- the longest serving member of the Committee. He had met Adv Schmidt in the Committee in 2004 and he had remained in the Committee till date. He thanked him for guiding new Members, despite political differences. He also thanked Mr Lorimer. He said the DA did not behave like an opposition party, but actually represented the aspirations and views of South Africans. He acknowledged the contributions of other opposition parties. He appreciated Mr Mandela for getting the Members to deliver to the best of their ability. He acknowledged it was not easy to work with Mr Mandela, but he had no choice than to work with him. The Committee worked together with the DMR as a family, despite the difference in opinions. He thanked the DG, the Minister and other officials of the Department as well as the past officials. He also thanked Dr Nicol for his readiness to guide Members through difficult scenarios. He also appreciated the simplistic approach of Adv Schmidt to various matters. He cautioned the Department not to take advantage of the next Committee. He suggested that one or two Members of the Committee might return, therefore the DMR had to stay on top of its game.
Ms Nyambi thanked the Chairperson for providing effective leadership to the Committee. She also thanked the administrative staff for always being on top of the situation. She appreciated the leadership prowess of Mr Mandela. The Committee Members worked as a family. The Department always responds timeously and adequately to concerns raised by Committee Members. She thanked Dr Nicol and wished him a successful retirement experience.
Mr Lorimer thanked Adv Mokoena for discharging his duties effectively. He appreciated the remarkable dedication of Dr Nicol. He thanked the Chairperson for effective leadership and sense of humour. All Members worked together despite differing ideological and politically positions. He had learnt a lot from the Committee and would continue to learn. He appreciated the excellent performance of the administrative staff.
Mr Mandela thanked the administrative staff who ensured that things were done right and timeously, as well as providing a seamless link between him and the Chairperson of the Committee. The administrative staff also played a vital role in the effective discharge of Members’ duties. He appreciated the contributions of Adv Schmidt and Mr Lorimer, who had always been an active part of the Committee despite being in the opposition party. He noted the phenomenal achievements of the Committee resulted from the willingness of the Members to work together. The ANC had learnt tremendously from the contributions of both Adv Schmidt and Mr Lorimer. Adv Schmidt had been one of the longest serving Members of the Committee. Therefore, the Committee had drawn a sense of knowledge from his contributions and participation. He noted that the concerns and questions of Mr Lorimer had helped to add quality to the work of the Committee. He thanked all Committee Members for their ability to work, even under immense pressure. He noted that they had been able to learn and benefit from the experience and knowledge of one another. He thanked the Chairperson for the wealth of experience he brought into the Committee and for effective leadership, which drove the Committee successfully through numerous challenges. He also thanked Dr Nicol for feeding Members with researched information. He wished him a successful retirement and hoped he would have the opportunity to visit different parts of the world during his retirement. He also expressed gratitude for the administrative prowess of Ms Boss and the rest of the administrative team.
He referred the Committee and the delegation of the Department to a book, The Long Walk to Freedom, written by the Republic’s father of nascent democracy and global Icon, Nelson Mandela. The book detailed the struggle of labour migrants from rural areas, who were subjected to gruesome conditions at the mines. They mainly left their homes on January 2 every year to work primarily for the interest of the whites, only to return to their homes around December 5. Some of these labourers suffered various degrees of injuries with nothing to show for their sacrifices. He urged the DMR to drive the transformation agenda without being sympathetic or apologetic. He urged the DMR to avoid scratching the matter on the surface. He hoped the DMR would help correct the injustices of the past. He appreciated the willingness of the DMR to engage with the Committee on diverse issues, some of which were very sensitive. He wished Members a successful election period.
Dr Nicol appreciated the opportunity to work with the Committee. He had learnt a lot from helping the Committee to hold the Department accountable for the past six years, even though he sometimes did not succeed in the role. He appreciated the effectiveness of the Chairperson and the Secretary. He noted that the Secretary sometimes made hard requests, but this had helped to ensure smooth operation of the Committee. The challenges came with opportunities to learn new things. He had started his career in the mining industry and was glad to end in an environment that was associated with mining. He acknowledged the mining industry was a difficult sector. Nevertheless, the situation was significantly better than what had obtained 30 years ago. He acknowledged that there was still a lot to be done in the mining industry. He appreciated the decision of the President to appoint a Minister, for the first time, who knew about mining due to his prior experience in the mining sector. He wished Members a successful election period.
The Chairperson appreciated the immense contribution of Dr Nicol to the Committee. He had brought a wealth of knowledge to the Committee and was a true reflection of what a public servant should be. He was not territorial and discharged his duties without any conspicuous political sentiments, as was reflected by excellent performance in his assigned tasks. He urged Dr Nicol to find something to do in order to remain active in retirement, and challenged him to find means to develop public servants to reach the same level of proficiency. He wished the Committee could get a replacement that would function at the same level as Dr Nicol. The Chairperson also thanked the support staff who worked behind the scenes to ensure the success of the Committee.
He urged the DMR to ensure continuity in its operations. It had succeeded in getting the Department in the right direction. He charged the DMR to do more to boost the operations and image of the mining industry. He reminded the stakeholders that the Committee had started work at one of the toughest and most unstable times in the history of the mining industry. It was just after the incident in Marikana and one of the longest strikes after the apartheid regime. It was a period of severe tension in the platinum belt. Nevertheless, the Committee had been able to engage all stakeholders and taken the mining sector to its current position. He appreciated the immense contributions of opposition parties, especially the DA, which was represented by Adv Schmidt and Mr Lorimer. He also appreciated the work of Mr S Jafta (AIC) for his consistency. All Members treated one another with respect and dignity, despite ideological and political differences.
He acknowledged that being the Chairperson of the Committee came with a lot of challenge that required maturity and discipline to handle. He had had little idea of the mining sector when he assumed leadership of the Committee, but all Members had worked with him to ensure success. He appreciated the leadership of the ANC for the opportunity given to him to serve. The Committee operated in unity and at no time was an external person invited to settle disputes. He thanked the DMR for a job well done. However, he encouraged it to try harder in the areas of turnaround time and consistent monitoring. He charged the Department to strive for a better audit outcome.
Finally, he thanked the Members of the Committee for providing a conducive work environment. He wished all Members a successful period after the Fifth Parliament. He urged them to mount effective campaigns to ensure victory in the forthcoming elections. Leaders should also provide good examples to their followers.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.