“It is time for all of us to stand together and just say “NO”. Just say “NO” to physical threats and abuse. Just say “NO” to intimidation. Just say “NO” to violence against people and property.”These were the words of Anglo American chief executive and South African Chamber of Mines President, Mark Cutifani at the closing gala dinner of the second annual, Mining Lekgotla, held in South Africa. He said “We must all stand together and refuse to allow these cowards, thugs and murderers to intimidate people, destroy our businesses, our industry and our country.” All South Africans are bound by a Constitution that guarantees individual and collective rights and personal safety above all other imperatives. As a civil society, laws have been drafted to give practical effect to the Constitution, to protect individuals from threats, intimidation and physical violence. “The minute we allow people to believe they can act above the law, to believe they can take the law into their own hands and intimidate and murder, then we cease to be true to our Constitution – we cease to be true to the people and the country, he stated. “We cannot allow a vocal minority to undermine and destroy the very fabric of this new democracy. We cannot allow thugs and murderers to intimidate ordinary and law abiding citizens in their individual quest for power and subversion. And when I talk subversion, I am talking about the subversion of the rights of the silent majority – that have been overridden by cowards who hide in the shadows.” While not born of South Africa, Cutifani said he had been inspired by a vision of “what” this great country is, and can be. “I am inspired by the great leaders that put the country on a new pathway. The men and women that risked everything, who put the ordinary men and women of this country first, in the pursuit of a dream, deserve to be honoured with our commitment to fulfil that dream. I have no doubt that South Africa can and should be a leader on the African Continent.” However, he asked, “Before we can turn aspiration into outcome, we need to demonstrate we can position our country for long term development and growth. If we cannot resolve our internal issues, what makes us believe we can be a leader across the continent?” He said the country’s most important industry is in crisis and no answer to stemming the tide of destruction has been found yet. “In the last 12 months we have further underperformed the JSE All Share Index and other mining jurisdictions around the world, and so what further evidence do we need to show that the situation is deteriorating at an increasing rate. Of course the downward pressure on gold and platinum prices is a great threat, but it’s exactly in these times of threat that we need to stand together and act for the long term sustainability of our great industry. “Those that hide in the shadows continue to feast on the uncertainty of our leadership as an industry and as a country.”
At this point, he again reflected on the theme of the gathering. “Unity is about working together, standing together and fighting for what is right.”It is within this context that we put forward our blueprint to turn our current crisis into an opportunity: We must all align with the Deputy President’s broad encompassing vision to bring all the key players into a dialogue that charts a common future. For those that decide to not come together in this quest to rebuild our future, at least have the decency to stand aside and let good South Africans build on the foundations that have taken us this far. While we know we are not where we want to be, we have to acknowledge what has worked, and at the same time learn from our mistakes. We must engage with the Finance Ministry and look for the balance that is needed in ensuring a competitive future for our industry, while at the same time making sure we all pay our fair share of resource rents. We must do this quickly, as uncertainty is our greatest enemy in the minds of our most important long term supporters. We must always remember, if we do not have an industry with long-term certainty, we cannot plan for and continue to support our social development agenda. We must agree to sensible adjustments to the MPRDA – adjustments that encourage entrepreneurship and downstream investments. That means a number of the current proposals that will create more uncertainty for investors must be withdrawn. We cannot continue to destroy the trust and faith of the market by adding further investment uncertainty. We must consider our limitations on foreign exchange control. We must become a country that encourages investment and businesses making profits, understanding that with prosperity come jobs and investment in the future that will help build our country. With profits come taxes and the capacity to build our social programmes. “I have no doubt that South Africa can be a leader in Africa and the World. The only question I have is – do we have the courage to make the tough choices to take us there and do we have the love for the country that will allow us to put our personal interests aside to help build a country for all? “Now is the time to act!”
Please note this is an extract form the speech made by Mark Cutifani and not the full speech.