Mining unions ask new minister to continue Ramatlhodi's work

Unions are divided on whether Ngoako Ramatlhodi should have been moved out of his position.

FILE. Unions in the mining industry have appealed to the new Mineral Resources Minister to maintain the momentum built up by his predecessor in discussions on wage negotiations and job losses. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Unions in the mining industry have appealed to the new Mineral Resources Minister to maintain the momentum built up by his predecessor in discussions on wage negotiations and job losses.

Mosebenzi Zwane replaces Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who has been moved to the Public Service and Administration Department by President Jacob Zuma.

Ramatlhodi replaces the late Collins Chabane.

Zwane is the former MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State.

The Presidency announced the move last night.

Mining unions are divided on whether Ramatlhodi should have been moved out of his position, but all of them agree that he managed to make significant headway.

He engineered the signing of a job losses plan by unions, companies, the Chamber of Mines and government.

Trade Union Solidarity's Gideon du Plessis says they suspect he was moved out of office because he has millions of rand in mining shares.

"We are a bit concerned and we hope there is a proper handover, that we don't have to go back to square one - as is the case when there is a change in a minister."

Zwane will be officially sworn in as minister at the Union Buildings this afternoon.

QUESTIONS ASKED ABOUT ZWANE'S CAPABILITIES

Political parties are questioning whether the new Mineral Resources Minister is the right person for the job.

The Freedom Front Plus's Anton Alberts says the mining sector is in a dire state.

"We aren't certain whether Mr Zwane can add value to this critical portfolio which has been mismanaged for years."

The Democratic Alliance's James Lorimer says Zwane's appointment is unlikely to help ease the many problems confronting the industry.

"If government is to change the industry it needs to start to change the way it does things. At this critical point to put someone with no record of mining or high level leadership seems mad."