• Alan Fine
Public Affairs Manager, AngloGold Ashanti
+27 11 637 6383
• Khosi Shongwe
Media Liaison and Communications Officer,
+27 11 637 6259
These are great days to be a South Africa-based multinational company. If nothing else, the 2010 Fifa World Cup shone a light on our ability to host a successful world-class sporting event – and demonstrated the achievements made in 16 years of democracy.
I have lived and worked out of Johannesburg for the last three years, after 30 years’ business experience across 25 countries and five continents. This allows me to appreciate what those who haven’t had the opportunity to work in South Africa cannot, and what some local business leaders also find difficult to grasp.
Yes, South Africa has problems. With its history, how could it be otherwise?
Most citizens are concerned about crime, even though it seems to be on the decrease. But in my experience people are even more concerned about our future direction, particularly opportunities for their children. A system built during apartheid for the support of a 10% minority will invariably struggle as it gears to provide for the majority, without depriving the previously advantaged. This is both a herculean and sensitive pathway for us to navigate.
Undoing the apartheid legacy is still a subject of debate. The solution must be in repairing the damage in a way that supports relatively strong economic growth, so as to eradicate widespread race-based poverty, the ultimate consequence of apartheid. Growth strategies require complex trade-offs and value judgments.
The remarkable thing is how South Africans have gone about grappling with these difficult questions. No country debates its policy issues more passionately. So, for example, when the ruling African National Congress‘s youth league calls for the nationalisation of mines, the response from their seniors is cool, considered and rational, while also conscious that sensible solutions to deep, racially-based economic inequalities are needed.
Indeed, the mining industry itself is encouraged to participate in these debates, even though it is seen as having colluded in the apartheid system.
Much of 2010 has seen rigorous engagement between the government, the established mining sector, organised labour and emerging black mining businesses seeking better paths to transformation while recognising their common interest in the sector’s profitability and growth.
That process is not complete, but there are signs that a balance will be found, continuing the country’s happy culture of constructive internal engagement developed in the 20 years since political parties were unbanned and political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela released.
The political support for the mining industry is as good as anything I have seen anywhere. Contrast, for example, the South African government’s decision to delay a new mining royalty regime because of the global financial crisis, with the punitive tax laws passed by the Australian government. Similarly, political support for mining in the US is somewhat more fragmented than in South Africa.
Yes, the government is taking an increasingly tough line on safety and the environment. But that is their job, and these are areas where the industry has work to do. There have been one or two worrying regulatory decisions on mineral rights, but we are not unlike many jurisdictions where those with the best lawyer benefit from weaknesses in legislation. The key is that we recognise and correct our weaknesses – this has been our history.
The nature of conversations between business and trade unions is also refreshing. While unions sound uncompromising to the unfamiliar ear, the focus is invariably on finding solutions to issues in which we have common interests, such as occupational safety. Even wage negotiations, while tough, are aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions. These conversations are far more difficult in “developed” jurisdictions.
South Africa is remarkable in its ability to innovate from within. It is the only country to successfully stage three major global sporting events – the cricket, rugby and soccer world cups. To be so consistently successful points to more than luck.
Mark Cutifani is CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company.
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Powering towards a green economy
South Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.
The everyday beauty of Soweto
South African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.
Launchpad to a billion consumers
By offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.
A trek to the start of time
It will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.
Brewing up a global brand
Miller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.
Looking south and east for growth
As the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.
More than just a celluloid Mandela
There is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.
Africa in the new world order
Kgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.
Mining history for new solutions
Mark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.
Turning up the media volume
Since 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.
A joule of an energy-efficient car
South Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.
South Africa: Time to believe
The forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.
Finding sound real estate investment
South Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.
My normal, crazy, mixed-up country
South African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.
Bring on the braai
All South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.