“Mark, this Anglo American plc, it’s ours. It’s a South African company,” Minerals Minister Susan Shabangu reminded incoming Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani at a Chamber of Mines of South Africa function in his honour.
“We hope you’ll make sure that it remains South African,” the Minister added.
Her comments follow those of African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, who last month emphasised the South African roots of Anglo American and lamented reference to it as a British company.
Mantashe contended that allowing companies to migrate to global stock exchanges had impacted negatively on South Africa’s own exchange and denied the country part of its economic heritage.
Shabangu also raised the issue of the regret some had that Anglo American had been allowed to domicile in London.
“When we speak, sometimes people say that we made a mistake to allow Anglo to list in London. Well, because it has happened, we’re not going to pursue that now, but what we want to see is Anglo continuing to brand itself as a South African company,” she said, adding that, with the appointment of Cutifani, the country was positive that would happen.
Speaker after speaker heaped praise on Cutifani, an Australian, who will remain on as the president of the Chamber of Mines despite being based in London for Anglo American from April 3.
The outgoing AngloGold Ashanti CEO will be taking over from Anglo American’s equally pro-South African incumbent CEO, Cynthia Carroll.
Cutifani acknowledged that South Africans continued to have great expectations about Anglo American making an ongoing contribution to the South African economy.
“There has been great progress, but there is also a great expectation,” he said.
The company was also a part of what South Africans would like the country to become.
Earlier, a series of South African mining personalities, including National Union of Mineworkers secretary-general Frans Baleni, paid tribute to Cutifani, who was credited with turning the South African mining industry into a safer one that cared far more about people and could also look forward to important new technology that would take workers out of the vulnerable areas.
Cutifani told the gathering that there were lessons for South Africa from AngloGold Ashanti, the share price of which rose to the leading position in the gold peer group, only to be knocked back by a series of bad news trends that included the now-defeated demand for the nationalisation of the South African mining industry.
Having emerged from a bad news period, Cutifani believed that the year 2013 had the potential to become a pivotal one for South Africa and the possible starting point of a new future if the country succeeded in putting itself on a positive new trajectory.