Business Maverick


Energy Minister Mantashe takes a swing at mining execs who ‘insult the State’

Energy Minister Mantashe takes a swing at mining execs who ‘insult the State’
Neal Froneman, chief executive officer of Sibanye. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Jeffrey Abrahams)

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s thin skin was on full display on Wednesday. In prepared remarks at the AGM of the Minerals Council South Africa, he complained about mining bosses who ‘insult the State’ – a thinly veiled reference to Sibanye-Stillwater boss Neal Froneman.

It seems that Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman has pushed Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe’s buttons – and not for the first time. 

“We have observed a growing temptation to insult the state by strong and powerful mining executives. Such executives have no regard for the industry’s international ratings and its relations with government, which makes it difficult to process industry issues,” Mantashe said in his address on Wednesday at the AGM of the Minerals Council, the main body representing South Africa’s mining sector. 

“The industry must further discuss the role of business associations who also find it fashionable to insult the government and the governing party – the ANC – projecting them as speaking for the sector,” he said. 

Pointing out the obvious faults of a state and a ruling party that have become bywords for corruption is not the same as “insulting” – a point we will return to shortly.

How low can they all go, Mr President? The case of the still unbreakable Mr Mbalula

Mantashe did not name “the powerful mining executives” who got under his paper-thin skin, but Sibanye’s blunt-edged Froneman immediately comes to mind. 

Among many examples, in an interview with Business Maverick in March, Froneman said:

“My view is now that we are practically a failed state. It starts with inequality and poverty. This is not a mining issue; this is a national issue. This is a lack of leadership. 

“This is a lack of people at the highest levels taking proper action against lawlessness, against crime, and it filters all the way down through the system.” 

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Froneman speaks out – ‘South Africa is a failed state with no leadership’

“Whether it’s a simple thing like implementing an exploration policy, the government can’t do it; it can’t even fix its bloody admin systems to sign off mining licences. It’s a pathetic state of affairs,” Froneman said. 

One person’s insults are another person’s facts, and the fact of the matter is that South Africa in many ways does resemble a failing state.  

The Minerals Council alluded to this in a more diplomatic kind of way.

Procurement mafia, self-serving gangs stirring up community unrest, extorting supply and employment contracts from our members or participation in expansion or renewable energy projects. This has the effect of stifling investment and delaying projects to the detriment of the mines, communities and national economy. 

“This is an area that we need to see concerted efforts to arrest and convict the perpetrators,” the council’s CEO Roger Baxter said in a statement after the AGM. 

Insecurity, lawlessness and Soprano-style shakedowns are facts of life for the South African mining industry. And they point to a failing state, whether the minister likes it or not. 

This list could go on, including the DMRE’s dysfunctional Samrad system for mining rights and prospecting application and its ongoing failure – for that’s what it is – to replace it with a functional cadastral system. 

Then there’s Eskom’s inability to keep the lights on; the shambolic mess that is Home Affairs; the collapse of public hospitals; roads littered with gaping potholes; wider service delivery failures – there’s that word again – and a host of other state breakdowns. 

Is it an insult to point out transparent facts? Or does the minister believe that the South African state under the ANC has a passing grade? 

If so, it must be based on a 30% pass requirement. DM/BM


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  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Mantashe – every SA citizen has the right to criticise and yes, insult you and your pathetic, corrupt and deceitful poor excuse of a government. We are garçon!! We pay you through our taxes that keep you and your bloated, arrogant, inept and corpulent colleagues in jobs and prosperity. Our taxes are stolen and used for personal gain on a massive scale. You are masters of theft, corruption and destruction! Instead of serving the people of this country and realising it’s full potential, we are reduced to endless and puerile anc factional politics and kept in bondage to outdated and failed ideology, which severely impacts our economy and well-being. Our friends are the Russians, Chinese, Cubans etc and blindly support and close ranks with them irrespective what the issues are. Respect? I have nothing but complete and utter revulsion for you, your government and above all your putrid party. There was such great promise in 1994 for SA and you have all but destroyed it. Imagine if this country was governed by decent, honest, reliable and hardworking people who put the welfare of the population and country above all!!!

    • anton kleinschmidt says:


    • Tebogo Phakwe Phakwe says:

      If only he read DM.

    • Glyn Morgan says:

      Extremely well put! Thank you. Sergio!

      “Imagine if this country was governed by decent, honest, reliable and hardworking people who put the welfare of the population and country above all!!!”

      • Dragan KostaKostic says:

        South Africa’s leaders have been corrupted by foreign economic interests !!
        An Economic Hit Man Confesses and Calls to Action

        John Perkins describes the methods he used to bribe and threaten the heads of state of countries on four continents in order to create a global empire and he reveals how the leaders who did not “play the game” were assassinated or overthrown.

    • Garth Kruger says:

      Spot on Sergio. Well said.

    • Dragan KostaKostic says:

      Do it not make you happy that companies such as Hitachi and Black and Vetch are profiting billions from that piece of shit power station that was supposed to solve the load shedding problem ? While your pissing in the dark the CEO of Hitachi is eating huge platter of Sushi and swigging 10000 $ a bottle Whisky and laughing at those dimwit South Africans. Does this enrage you and make you want to protest at the Japanese Embassy and throw rotten fish at them? No according to the “Free Market” ideology that you have been indoctrinated with these are guys innovators and investors it not their fault that profits these days can only be made from war and corruption! Give the big energy companies a break they have it hard with the Green New Deal conspiracy and those skanky hippies and tree huggers gluing themselves to oil rigs!!

    • Chris 123 says:

      I think you just about covered it, unfortunately they are too stupid to comprehend.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    don mess with me im gwedi see
    gwedi fantaseeee
    yo fictchin be more real than fact
    yo say me wrong then yo be sacked
    yo say me wrong then yo be fracked
    yo tink I’s coal but I be nucleaaaa
    don mess with me im gwedi see
    gwedi fantaseeeee

    …a little fun – I hope you read in good humour because we do all love you really.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    Meant to be – we are gatvol! And by the way, for allowing and enabling State Capture, and protecting and shielding that arch crook Zuma and his henchmen!

  • Laurence Erasmus says:

    Gwede threatening to withdraw Sibanye’s mining license has done untold damage to the security of mining in South Africa! Froneman’s criticism of an ANC government that has brought South Africa to its knees and to the precipice of social unrest pales into insignificance when Gwede chases investors from the mining sector. Gwede’s actions and not Froneman’s criticism will soon see South Africa becoming the least attractive in the world for new mining investment!

  • William Kelly says:

    Meh. Taking a swipe at the guy who made himself R300m swipeable? Gwede is a joke. He has absolutely no clue what he is doing. He lives in a self made delusional world in which he thinks he’s taken seriously and that what he says carries weight. The trouble is that his position carries weight and that weight is to further make himself a laughing stock, and to drag the sector he is responsible for further down the drain. Too much power gone to too small a head and it shows. The emperor, ladies and germs, has no clothes.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Let’s put it this way Gwede; if you were not in government, you would not get through the first round of any job application anywhere in the world, for any job other than a menial, entry-level function. You and your team are so absolutely useless at anything that creates value. The biggest barrier to entry in SA inc is your incompetence and corruption. You forget… the public can tell you what they think!

  • Brian Cotter says:

    The best form of defence is attack. Deflect and deny. Tried and tested by you. 100% behind Neal Froneman once again. Even Andre de Ruyter, after months of treading on eggshells, has to eventually say we have loadshedding also because Gwede has not delivered delivered on his IPP promise. As per today’s article on the useless Fikile Mbalula we hope a similar article can also be written about Gwede and Bheki.

  • anton kleinschmidt says:

    @ Neal.

    If you are reading this, allow me to tip my hat to you.

    You are exactly whet South Africa needs. It would be great if more of the private sector CEOs could scrape up the courage to do the same. Instead we have craven obeisance.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    As the ultimate measure of Mantashe’s incompetence and just plain stupidity, dont forget his address, as minister of mining etc, at a mining conference in Australia in September 2019, when he punted a newly discovered mineral called hazenile. All great except that this mineral was fictitious and was first mentioned in an Aprils Fool article. Which makes mantashe the fool I suppose.
    Consider further that there were hundreds of mining professionals at that conference; as Mantashe spouted about hazenile, they must have been looking at each other, thinking and probably saying WTF. And then Mantashe has the gall to complain about mining executives insulting the state, his state!

  • Alan Watkins says:

    An exerpt from EyeWitnessNews page.
    “Trade union federation Saftu has warned that South Africa is on a fast march to becoming a failed state. Acting president of the federation Nomvume Ralarala told delegates at the organisation’s elective conference that the state was dysfunctional. “Today, you hear a minister announcing a R22 million flag and the next day you hear the president joking about the matter as if he was not part of the cabinet that approved the project. Tomorrow, you hear two ministers contradicting each other on the price of energy,” Ralarala said. The federation’s congress has now been wrapped up, with general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi voted back to the post”

    Now lets hear Mantashe complain about SAFTU insulting the state. Nevah!

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Mantasha, Mbalula & Co use their big mouths’ to cover their insufficiency and personal insecurities. They should be fired and replaced by persons who can do the job.

  • Penelope Meyer says:

    So, we the people who you nominally serve, who pay you to manage our country and at whose pleasure you remain in that position, are not permitted to criticise you? Hold on, I must remember this for the next time my boss has a problem with me (although he NEVER does). I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at this attitude though, seeing as no amount of malfeasANCe, corruption and arrongANCe seems to put off the voters. Has Jesus been sighted yet?

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Insult the State?
    In God’s name, how can one insult this sorry mess?

  • Dragan KostaKostic says:

    All these mining companies do is to exploit workers pollute the enviroment ans corrupt the politicians
    Look at the history of South Africa. Capitalism was introduced to South Africa by the British especially Rhodes. This involved wars of conquest, land dispossession (1913 Land Act) and the introduction of wage slavery. Rhodes was not a racist he despised working people but supported the British policy of creating a native elite who would support British imperialism. The native elite generally welcomed such a policy at first for example Ghandi. The Afrikaners refused to work for slave wages (As reactionaries demand of the working class in every country today) also they feared economic competition from British Monopoly Capital. This is why Apartheid was invented.

    This involved massive state intervention in the economy and high taxes to support a welfare state for the whites. Big business was happy with this as the government oppressed the black working class and banned trade unions. However by the 1980s things were going badly the black working class was revolting and had forced the government to legalise trade unions. Big business then set about befriending the native elite who had become antagonistic to capitalism as result of the apartheid policy. Globalisation has destroyed the countries industrial base and the only way for the elite to make money today is by fraud and corruption .

  • Anesh Govender says:

    Where’s the insults? All everybody is doing is pointing out the obvious. We are a failed state where a small % of the population are taxed to poverty to make the ANC govt moola to fritter away and steal and enrich the bourgeoise class… then you get Kieswetter blowing his horn how SARs collected a a trillion rands of the backs of those taht actually work, put energy to turn the wheels of the economy that this govt has a history of botching… can’t wait for a new dispensation with govt working for the people.. 😬😬

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