Programme Director,

Members of the MQA Board,

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of the MQA,

The Management of the MQA,

Stakeholders representing different mining houses,

Stakeholders representing different labour organisations,

Beneficiaries of various MQA learning programmes,

MQA staff members,

My colleagues,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

All protocols observed!

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to you everyone for being with us today at the Mining Qualifications Authority’s Annual Consultative Conference Hybrid event. It is indeed a pleasure to be able to welcome our stakeholders who have been instrumental in the MQA’s achievements, as well as new stakeholders who are now part of our community.

A special welcome is extended to the Deputy Director-General for Skills development branch in the Department of Higher Education and Training Mr Zukile Mvalo who is representing the Minister, Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande who is not able to join us today. Mr Mvalo, please our gratitude to the honourable Minster for his guidance and leadership in ensuring that our education and training systems remain globally competitive.

Programme director, allow me to also welcome our stakeholders who are joining us through our streaming service, and we are pleased that you could find the time out of your schedules to be with us today. I trust that you are all comfortable and have settled in, as we look forward to engaging with you throughout today’s programme.

Today marks a superior milestone in the MQA’s performance, as we celebrate the achievement of a clean audit report from the Auditor General South Africa for the twenty-twenty-one (2021), twenty-twenty-two (2022) financial year.

Before we get started, I would like to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to the MQA Board and MQA staff. It is through a common passion for excellence that the MQA was able to accomplish this unparalleled achievement.

In today’s proceedings, we have a host of speakers who will be focusing on various topics as well as enlightening discussions.

We have the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the MQA, Dr Thabo Mashongoane, who will be taking us through the highlights of the MQA’s achievements during the past financial year. He will be assisted by the Chief Financial Officer, Ms Lebogang Matlala, who will be providing a detailed examination of the audited performance report.

Following on from this discussion, we will have the opportunity to listen to and to also engage with a panel discussion comprising knowledgeable speakers who are experts in their fields and so have a wealth of information to share with us today.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to have amongst us today, Kgosi Hamilton Lazarus Montsho, who will provide us with a first-hand account of the way the MQA’s Mine Community Support Project has been instrumental in assisting communities residing within mining communities, to gradually achieve sustainable economic upliftment. It is indeed an honour Kgosi Montsho, that you are able to join us today, and we do look forward to your invaluable talk.

In light of the ongoing global movement aimed at stimulating numerous technological advancements, we have Mr Harmut Brodner from the Innovation Hub, whose discussion will elaborate on the significance of technology as a driver that can confidently move the mining and minerals sector towards a technologically enhanced future.   

As the Mining Qualifications Authority, we always look forward to occasions that allow us the opportunity to profile beneficiaries of various MQA learning programmes, because it is these learners that serve as both ambassadors as well as the faces of our successful skills development efforts.

For this reason, I am proud that Ms Nkateko Matokane is with us today. Ms Matokane is a qualified diesel mechanic working at Palabora Mining Company in Phalaborwa, and she is also a successful participant of the Centres of Specialisations programme. It is not every day that we are rewarded with a chance to celebrate the achievements of our female beneficiaries, so please do feel welcome Ms Matokane, we are truly looking forward to hearing more about your experiences.

The CoS programme is a project spearheaded by the Department of Higher Education and Training in partnership with Technological Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and employers within the sector. The project is already making notable inroads towards producing an improved quality of artisans from TVET colleges.

Colleagues, let me cease this opportune moment and thank the members of the board who carried themselves in a professional manner in their focus of addressing the national and strategic issues in the course of fulfilling their fiduciary duties in terms of the applicable legislation. I acknowledge the efforts of the various committed industry stakeholders and employees in the mining and minerals sector.

Mr Mvalo, I am honoured and delighted to lead an organisation that consistently displays a good governance culture which has led to the achievement of a clean audit opinion from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) in the 2021-2022 financial year. I thank the former acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bethuel Nemagovhani, who led the organisation to this achievement in the financial year. I also extend a warm welcome to the new acting CEO and current MQA Chief Operations Officer, Dr Thabo Mashongoane, and wish him success during his tenure.

The MQA as a public entity is also guided by National Treasury in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (No 1 of 1999 as amended by Act 29 of 1999). The Board has exercised sufficient oversight of the core and support functions of the MQA for the period under review and is satisfied that control measures are suitably efficient and effective to mitigate potential risks to the MQA. Furthermore, the Board and supporting committees are fully functional under the new MQA Constitution under the National Skills Development Plan (NSDP) 2020-2030 of the DHET and supports the strategic mandate of the MQA in their respective operational and technical capacities.

The various skills development programmes implemented by the MQA are aligned to the MQA strategic objectives as identified in consultation with the MQA Board in order to address the scarce skills identified by the sector in line with MQA Sector Skills Plan.

The Board held its strategic planning sessions on 26 and 27 August 2021 during the financial year under review. The focus was to induct the new board members to ensure good corporate governance practices are upheld, as well as to ensure the Board understands their role of strategically positioning the MQA in line with the NSDP. Extensive deliberations pertaining to the MQA’s six (6) strategic objectives took place, ensuring they align to the priority areas of the NSDP.

The Board is satisfied that the MQA strategic objectives support the NSDP and will also address the objectives of ensuring increased youth development and fit for purpose skills that will enhance productivity in transformation in the mining and minerals sector.

During the year under review, the MQA supported by the sector, continued to ensure skills development interventions took place, notwithstanding the challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdowns imposed. Occupational health and safety became a focus ensuring the sector adopts practices that will see its valuable resources, namely its employees, remain healthy in order to support the sector. This was a time for mines to also relook at its mining practices for continuous improvement and to ensure technologies are incorporated that will ensure cleaner, environmentally friendly mining practices in a more technologically progressive sector.

A number of mining companies and private training institutions linked to the MQA participated in the National Skills Conference this year on 21 September 2021, hosted by the National Skills Authority (NSA). The MQA also hosted its Annual Consultative Conference on 5 November 2021 where stakeholder awards were presented. I applaud this initiative as it goes a long way towards motivating companies to participate in skills development in the sector. I also witnessed the International Literacy Day event held on 29 January 2022. This is yet another event that contributes to Adult Education and Training (AET) support and encouragement in the sector. I encourage board members to participate in these corporate activities that promote the programmes of the MQA.

The mining sector is slowly responding positively to transformation, and it remains the MQA’s responsibility to demonstrate to the sector that transformation is not just a regulatory requirement but a business imperative the sector is expected to fulfil. The MQA continues to endorse the priorities outlined in the Mining Charter, and in the year under review, more and more testimonials were received from a number of qualified historically disadvantaged individuals in the sector who came out of the MQA implemented learning and training programmes.

It is also heart-warming that the MQA is placing more emphasis on portable skills training programmes that are aimed at assisting retrenched mining employees, and unemployed individuals in mining communities to gain employment. This is one means in the development of initiatives to assist in the reintegration of ex-miners into the workplace.

The MQA continues to plead with and encourage employers to open their workspaces for training more learners for the work environment and attract discretionary grants. The successful disbursement of the discretionary grants allocated for the various learning programmes is greatly entrenched in the positive response by employers to take up learners.

The MQA prides itself in forging partnerships with various stakeholders that share the identical goal of facilitating accelerated skills development training in the sector. The important role of TVET colleges, in supporting the pursuit of improved artisan skills, is recognised by the MQA. Work exposure opportunities were offered to TVET college lecturers, and National Certificate Vocational (NCV) learners were placed with host employers to provide them with practical experience to advance their skills in their chosen artisan and non-artisan trades.

Safety in the workplace and amongst employees within the mining and minerals sector is of paramount importance, and the MQA remains committed to the Zero Harm policy supported in the sector.

With that said ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to take too much of your time as I need to return the baton to our able programme director to guide the proceedings for today’s programme.

So once again, a very warm welcome to each and every one of you. Please, do sit back, relax, and take the opportunity to engage with us throughout the programme.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and attention and enjoy the rest of the proceedings.