Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant: Debate on MPRD Amendment Bill

Address by Mr Godfrey Oliphant, MP, Honourable Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, on the occasion of debating the MPRD Amendment Bill at the National Assembly

Honourable Speaker,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Honourable Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources,

Honourable Members,

Fellow South Africans.

I'm profoundly honoured by this opportunity to assert the position of the ruling party, the glorious movement of the people, on the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill.

Firstly, let me remind the House that this is the Bill that was promulgated in 2002 and introduced in 2004 to introduce major reforms of the mining industry in South Africa. In the main, the Act sought to undo and redress more than a century of repressive legislation that was entrenched by the apartheid government to marginalize the majority of the people of South Africa.

One of the key objectives and achievements of the MPRDA relates to transferring the ownership of mineral and petroleum resources from private hands to a common heritage of all the people of South Africa, under the custodianship of the State.

The major regulatory reforms introduced by the MPRDA, consistent with the prevailing doctrine of a democratic State, have not been without challenges. For instance, the AgriSA case against the erstwhile Ministry of Minerals and Energy that the MPRDA was expropriatory was unsuccessful in the Constitutional Court of the land, with the judgment that affirmed the ownership of both mineral and petroleum resources. This is one of the major victories of the democratic government least celebrated.

In considering the Bill that was presented to him, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr JG Zuma referred the Bill back to parliament on four grounds, two substantive and two procedural.

As we debate in this august House today, the substantive issues and one procedural matter have been dealt with, namely:

The matter of the definition of the Act seemingly conferring unfettered powers to the Minister - the Chairperson of the Committee on Mineral Resources, Honourable Luzipo will deal with the matter at length. In the main, it is not uncommon for legislators to delegate amendment of subordinate legislation to the executive - this is a well-entrenched practice within the Republic that none of the legislators herein present can claim oblivion about.

The matter of the likely transgression with the country's international obligation in respect of the perceived restrictions on the exportation of minerals is better clarified as follows as contained in Section 26 of the MPRD Amendment Bill:

None of the holders of the mining right are subjected to this restriction, but those who would have secured the minerals on the basis of the provisions of Section 26 proposition. It makes sense that if anyone secured mineral production on the basis of our legislation for a specific purpose, that they cannot trade with such minerals outside of that purpose without due consideration by the Executive on the material conditions that should permit such to happen. It is critical to correct the prevailing narrative that the Bill imposes upon all holders of mining rights to seek Ministerial consent for the exportation of mineral production - this is yet another example of ineptitude in our legal fraternity, which is part of the dominant narrative and a particular political pre-disposition.

We have consulted extensively with a number of affected Departments on this matter, including International Cooperation (DIRCO), Trade and Industry (DTI), Economic Development, (EDD) and National Treasury, amongst other, to ensure that our conceptualisation of the provision is not inconsistent with our international obligations. We have accordingly been assured that the Section is not inconsistent with such obligations.

On consultation with the National House of Traditional Leaders, we have welcomed the President's view on this unintended omission. The House of Traditional Leaders have since considered the Bill and made their contribution to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, which duly considered these contributions. Mine is to express highest appreciation to the House of Traditional Leaders on their consideration and due submission to the Committee.

Lastly, the President correctly raised a matter of a highly compressed consultation with the Provinces in the NCOP. Once you have concluded your deliberations this afternoon, the Bill will be referred to the NCOP for further processing.

In essence, today is historical in that your decisions will enable a Constitutional process to finalise the Bill. This process is asking of your conscience to vote in favour, in order to accelerate finalisation of the Bill, attract the necessary investment in the development of the mineral and petroleum resources and to effect meaningful transformation of both industries whilst growing them sustainably and competitively.

I have every confidence that the parties herein mandated by the population of the country they represent, will heed the call to vote in favour of the Bill and enable the development of these resources in order to address their plight.

We look forward to your support of the Bill and its finalisation here upon.

I thank you!

Source: Government of South Africa.

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