SA govt. ties itself in knots over Sishen iron ore debacle

08 September 2010 | 05:25 Code : 20166 Geoscience events
In a letter sent to Kumba in August, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu stated that "only....

In a letter sent to Kumba in August, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu stated that "only a competent court is able to review" her decision to uphold the decisions of the deputy director-general to grant the application for a prospecting right to Imperial Crown Trading (ICT). No-where in the letter does she exonerate ICT’s conduct, in its application for a prospecting right to the 21.4% stake in Sishen Iron Ore Company (SIOC), Kumba Iron Ore’s main operating subsidiary. The only concession she makes is that the right was "prima facie [as it seems at first sight] lawfully granted".Contrast the above statement to the one she made in Perth, Australia at the Africa Down Under Conference on September 1, saying she had "carefully examined" the allegations of maladministration or irregularity and found "no evidence" of such in the manner in which the prospecting right was "granted".How did Shabangu move from the statement she made in a letter addressed to Kumba saying that from a prima facie point of view, the rights appeared to have been lawfully granted, to a steadfast, definitive view that she had found no evidence of irregularity?Shabangu’s sincerity may need questioning; in the same letter to Kumba, Shabangu made a startling admission: "having therefore performed the authorised administrative act" of granting the prospecting right, she now considered herself, "functus officio". In essence what she is saying is that as a result of having granted the prospecting rights, she was precluded from again [sic] considering the matter even if new arguments or evidence were presented.What makes this particularly startling is that it seems Shabangu in her "careful" examination of the alleged maladministration in the awarding of ICT’s prospecting rights felt "precluded from again [sic] considering the matter" even if new evidence - presumably of the nature produced to the Pretoria High Court in Kumba’s latest submission (accusing ICT of having fraudulently manipulating the SIOC title deed) - emerged.

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