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South Africa raises mining sector black ownership requirement to 30 per cent


South African ruling party African National Congress (ANC) president and State President Jacob Zuma (C), South African parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete (L) and ANC Treasury General Zweli Mkhize (R), look on during ANC’s ordinary National Executive Committee meeting on May 27, 2017 in Pretoria. / AFP PHOTO / Phill Magakoe

South Africa has raised the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies to 30 percent from 26 percent but has not decided if firms must retain that structure permanently, Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Thursday.

Mining companies in the world’s top platinum producer have complained about a lack of consultation over revisions to an industry charter which sets targets for black ownership and participation, and say onerous rules would hurt investment.

The rand fell 2 percent after Zwane unveiled details of the revisions while the Johannesburg bourse’s Mining Index extended its decline to more than 3 percent. Zwane said companies had 12 months to meet the new 30 percent target. The Mining Charter was introduced in 2002 to increase black ownership of the mining industry, which accounts for about 7 percent of South Africa’s economic output.

The Chamber of Mines, an industry body, has taken the government to court over the interpretation of the ownership rules. The government has said companies must keep to black ownership targets even if black shareholders sell their stakes.

Uncertainty about the government policy remained, however, as Zwane said “we have not dealt with that” issue.

The Chamber of Mines, which represents companies such as Anglo American and Sibanye Gold, did not take part in the launch because of what it said was a lack of consultation in drawing up the charter.

S.Africa’s Public Protector launches probe of influence-peddling in state-owned firms by Reuters. South Africa’s Public Protector has launched a new investigation into allegations of influence-peddling and unlawful enrichment by certain officials within three state-owned firms after thousands of emails relating to alleged fraud were leaked.

The Public Protector’s office said in a statement on Wednesday it was investigating these allegations within Eskom, Transnet and The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

Allegations of government corruption have escalated this month after local media began reporting on more than 100,000 leaked emails they say show inappropriate interference by the wealthy Gupta family and ministers in the issuing of lucrative tenders.

“The Public Protector South Africa, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has decided to conduct a preliminary investigation for the purpose of determining the merits of the several allegations published in the media,” the protector’s office said.

The latest allegations of influence-peddling are deepening a divide in the ANC as factions jostle for control before a conference in December where President Jacob Zuma’s successor as party leader will be chosen.

The investigation by the anti-corruption watchdog will focus on allegations of “improper or dishonest act” with respect to the public funds at Eskom, PRASA and Transnet and “unlawful enrichment” by certain public officials at the firms, it said.

The investigation will also look at the re-appointment of Brian Molefe as chief executive of Eskom, the state power company, amid graft allegations. He was reinstated last month, but ministers then reversed his reinstatement.

Molefe has denied wrongdoing and the Gupta family, who are friends of Zuma, and its companies have also denied all allegations of influence-peddling or improper dealings.

Most of the allegations form part of “The State Capture” report by the Public Protector, released last year on Nov. 2, focusing on allegations that businessmen brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta had influenced the appointment of ministers.

The report has been taken on judicial review by Zuma, mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Desmond van Rooyen, the public protector said.

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