Mixed reaction to appointment of new Mineral Resources Minister

Former FS MEC Mosebenzi Zwane will replace Ngoako Ramatlhodi as Minister of Mineral Resources.

New Minister of Public Service and Administration Ngoako Ramatlhodi. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The appointment of the new Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has been met with surprise in the mining industry after the MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Free State was brought in to replace Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

Advocate Ramatlhodi has been appointed as Public Service and Administration Minister following the death of Collins Chabane in a car crash earlier this year.

Zwane will take over the role at a time when the industry is under serious threat of strike action over wages.

When Ramatlhodi first came into office in May last year, he was able to resolve the five month long platinum strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

Amcu says the removal of Ramatlhodi from the Mineral Resources department was done because he took a tough stance against mining companies on black economic empowerment.

Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa says, "We feel very strongly that the president should've left Ramatlhodi until 2016 who's been challenging the compliance of companies. This makes us wonder whether this was not a political change."

Zwane's appointment was described as a positive development.

Ramatlhodi is confident Zwane will work well with mining role players.

Business Day newspaper resources editor Allan Seccombe says the appointment is a shock as not much is known about Zwane.

"We've been hearing rumours for a while that he was going to go but the reasons were never clear. I never got to the bottom of why he has fallen out of favour with Zuma. But to bring in the completely unknown is a complete and utter mystery."

Zwane is reportedly also linked to the landing of a Gupta jet at Waterkloof Airforce Base in 2013 and his experience in the mining industry is unclear.

President Jacob Zuma thanked Nhleko for temporarily filling the post.

Zwane will be sworn in as Mineral Resources Minister at the Union Buildings later today.

The Presidency's Bongani Majola said, "Mr Zwane will be sworn in at 4pm at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. I wish both Mr Zwane and advocate Ramatlhodi well in their respective portfolios."

Zwane was sworn in as a Member of Parliament at the beginning of this month after serving as Free State MEC of Agriculture.