Zambezi Protocol guiding chamber in search for new identity

2nd June 2017

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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The 128-year-old Chamber of mines of South Africa dropped a bombshell last week when it announced that it would be changing its name and identify and staging a new beginning.

It also revealed that, in doing so, it would be using the Zambezi Protocol as an important guiding light.

The Zambezi Protocol is a blueprint formulated by Africans for Africans, with the Brenthurst Foundation acting as the catalyst.

It lays down that solving the current crisis in the African mining sector requires moving from the current series of tactical actions to a more cohesive, inclusive and strategic approach.

It points out that the intent must be to exit the current backward- looking, destructive, downward spiral in which mining is currently locked and shift to a positive, constructive cycle that offers a ‘win-win-win’ deal for all.

It highlights that the losers of mining’s current dilemma are not only current workers and future workers but also governments, populations and mining companies.

Now the South African chamber, under its new president, Mxolisi Mgojo, is accelerating the move towards radical reform and taking steps to make good on the havoc that apartheid wreaked on the industry.

The denunciation of apartheid is being accompanied by acknowledgement and mea culpas about mining’s own complicity in what the world declared a crime against humanity.

The difficult issues that have underwritten the current crisis will need to be addressed and, as the Zambezi Protocol states, historical legacy dealt with.

As the industry heads in a new direction, it will also have to answer questions on the amount of profit that is reasonable, its responsibility to employees and how it can help communities.

Equally important in its view is that an agreement be reached on what a successful mining industry looks like, while recognising that mining is an inherently risky and long-term endeavour.
I think we can expect quite a lot from Mgojo. He is quite a forthright character and he is prepared to tell it as it is.

In the conversations I have had with him, he has spoken about the vast tracts of land that surround mines and the abundance of water at the industry’s disposal.

He has, in the past, openly pondered over mining companies being the catalyst for agricultural development on those vast tracts of land.

Thus, the exit of the old chamber name may be accompanied by the entry of a more holistic natural resources identity that looks beyond energy minerals in the form of coal and uranium, and embraces wind and sun energy.

Mgojo heads a 6 000-employee, R40-billion, black-controlled group that already has a renewable-energy generating business.

Gas is another energy source that the chamber’s members have turned a blind eye to in the past. Chamber members wore blinkers when they drilled through the gas pockets in their search for gold in the Free State.

But now steps are being taken to turn that gas resource to positive account, as was witnessed last week with the announcement of the financial facilitation by the State-owned Industrial Development Corporation.

All eyes will be on the new mantle the chamber dons and how that will benefit the economy of South Africa.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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