Billionaire Patrice Motsepe has said that no one is beyond criticism, and business has to be uncompromising in their discussions with the government to help it improve.
Motsepe was speaking at the presentation of African Rainbow Mineral’s (ARM) financial results for the 2023 financial year.
The mining company experienced a sharp fall in profits due in part to logistics constraints from Transnet’s deteriorating performance.
ARM’s revenue decreased from R18.41 billion in 2022 to R16.10 billion in 2023, while profit for the year fell from R14.36 billion to R9.32 billion – an over 30% decrease compared to the prior year.
The company’s headline earnings decreased by 21% to R8.98 billion or R45.81 per share.
Motsepe said he and ARM’s management team are encouraged by their engagements with Transnet to collaborate with the private sector to improve the utility’s performance.
However, he also urged businesses to be forthright in their criticism of the government but should only do it behind closed doors as he thinks one is unlikely to influence the government’s policy by criticising it publicly.
He said no one is beyond criticism. “Not even me,” he declared. “That is in the nature of leadership.”
“When we talk to government behind closed doors, we have to be uncompromisingly forthright and frank and sometimes express extreme frustration so that business can help,” Motsepe said.
Motsepe said ARM’s investors expect the company to navigate these issues and to perform, regardless of the challenges faced.
ARM’s chairman also warned that the country is already out of time and cannot be experimenting with leadership at critical institutions.
“That is an excellent beginning,” Motsepe said in reference to private sector collaboration with Transnet. “But, we do not have time now. What we need is results, results, results. We need the partnership to deliver.”
“We can’t be experimenting, there’s no time to be playing around and fidgeting.”
Transnet’s rail and port woes are costing bulk commodity miners billions in lost revenue. The Minerals Council of South Africa estimated that poorly run ports and freight-rail lines may have cost the country R150 billion in exports last year.