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Bakubung Factions Bury Their Seven-Year Hatchet

Breakthrough bodes well for government intervention in Rustenburg platinum belt

ONLY the champagne was missing when the Bakubung royal family, the directors of the tribe’s commercial entities and financial adviser Musa Capital publicly signed a deal to bury the hatchet in the long-standing row over Bakubung shares in junior platinum miner, Wesizwe.

The differences between two Bakubung leadership factions go back to 2007, when it emerged that a substantial portion of the community’s stake in JSE-listed Wesizwe, which is building a platinum mine on Bakubung land, had been put into a complex web of companies by Musa Capital.

It had been used as collateral to raise funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Deutsche Bank for other ventures.

The attempts to make peace went at a slow pace at first, but North West standing committee on public accounts chairman Hlomani Chauke pressed the parties to look beyond their differences.

But last week, piles of documents, empty water jugs and spent cooldrink cans strewn across the boardroom table at the auditor-general’s premises in Pretoria, attested to the success of the latest effort.

The marathon open stakeholder meeting lasted close to eight hours.

The breakthrough is significant beyond local and regional affairs. It is a rare success for government-led intervention in the troubled Rustenburg platinum belt, where communities believe they are not benefiting from the mining activities carried out on their land.

“This is a proud example of government doing its job and helping to repair the fissures in a community that I know will be one to stand for success,” said Musa Capital founder William Jimerson.

Bakubung acting queen Margaret Monnakgotla said the seven-year battle was ended because of the Bakubung’s willingness to stand together. They are an impoverished 30,000-strong community at Ledig near Sun City. The agreement would soon be announced at a community meeting.

The royal family had raised concern about the “disappearance” of their 33% stake in Wesizwe, which is expected to start production by 2018. The shares were sold in 2007 for more than R700m, amid fears they were getting diluted because the tribe did not have funds to buy more shares as Wesizwe continued to raise capital.

The transaction involved deals with the Deutsche Bank and the IDC — which still holds a close to R100m balance until disputes over financial and governance affairs are settled.

According to records, most of the money was invested in nine portfolio companies in the retail, finance and construction sector, through the Musa Kubu Fund, a partnership between the tribe’s investment arm, Bakubung Development Corporation (BCDC) and Musa Capital.

Under the new deal, the Bakubung royal family and the directors of two commercial entities linked to the community, the BCDC and Bakubung Economic Development Unit (Bedu), a developmental arm, undertake to “reconcile their differences”.

They also recognise the royal family and acting queen’s authority and role in the governance structures of the community.

Bedu chairman Disele Phologane said: “We hope this will herald a new life, a new way and a new thinking, which will be good for the development of the community.”

Mr Chauke, also general secretary of the Association of Public Accounts Committees in SA, said the intervention demonstrated the government’s commitment to accountability. “Our role from government point of view is to make sure that our people are guided properly. And that as we administer minerals on behalf of our communities we do it properly so that there is a benefit for our people.”

An article published in the Business Day on Tuesday, 27 May 2014


27-May-2014 | Setumo Stone

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