The ruling ANC government is “running the mining industry as if it were the 19th century,” said Dr Mamphela Ramphele at a book launch in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, last night.

Dr Ramphele said the mining industry, which used to be the pride of South Africa, and the mainstay of its economy, was being hampered by outmoded policies and a legacy of inefficiency.

She added that “a global skills war” was raging, which meant that South Africa had to give priority to training local engineers, as well as tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians.

“Small and medium enterprises are where the jobs are being generated at present,” said Dr Ramphele.

She added that a “national scandal” such as “raw sewage flowing down the streets of Beckersdal” presented an opportunity for a small engineering firm to become a basic service provider for the local community. “We have to incentivise people.”

Dr Ramphele said the mining industry stood to play a vital role in uplifting local communities, through employment and training and development schemes, as well as such novel plans as cultivating bamboo on rehabilitated mining land as a cash crop for building purposes .

Dr Ramphele was addressing a small but attentive audience at the official launch of her new biography, A Passion For Freedom, at Exclusive Books at Hyde Park Corner.

A noted apartheid activist as well as a medical doctor, an academic and businesswoman, she launched a new political party, called Agang (Sotho for “build”) in February this year.

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