Kgabo Moabelo positioned to ride South Deep storm

Kgabo Moabelo seems to be positioned as the new point man in the storm engulfing Gold Fields which comes to feed a long held theory that corporate South Africa tends to see black executives as fire fighters.

Gold Fields announced earlier this week the promotion of Moabelo into managing executive of its South African operations. This comes shortly after the explosion around the South Deep black economic empowerment (BEE) deal.

Former Gold Fields chairperson Mamphela Ramphele set the cat among the pigeons in alleging that the list of beneficiaries in the 2010 South Deep BEE deal was dictated by the Department of Mineral Resources. The company seems to be challenging Ramphele’s claims but confirmed that it has ordered for an independent investigation of the deal.

The deal which delivered about 9% of Gold Fields’ South Deep mine to a grouping called Invictus Gold has faced credibility questions long before the current round. Mining journalist Barry Sergeant has led the assault on the deal which includes colourful characters like Kenny Kunene; the Sushi King.

In a statement released last week Gold Fields said “Statements attributed in press reports yesterday to Dr Ramphele represent her own personal views”.

And now Moabelo is walking into this storm. It could just be a coincidence given the possibility that Gold Fields may have planned Moabelo’s promotion sometime ago as companies normally do. The company did say that Moabelo’s appointment took effect on March 1, 2013.

Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said “Following the unbundling of Sibanye Gold from Gold Fields it had become necessary to review the managing structure for the South Africa Region and the South Deep mine”. Kgabo will have full responsibility for South Deep’s business and operational performance in addition to dealing with the many outside stakeholders that fall within the ambit of the company’s South African operations”.

The group said South Deep is a crucial pillar in the growth of Gold Fields accounting for a significant portion of the company’s Mineral Reserves and future production profile. The mine is expected to achieve its full production rate of 700,000 ounces a year by 2016.

Moabelo was previously the Executive Vice-President for People and Organisational Effectiveness for the Group, including its international operations. Moabelo joined Gold Fields in 2010 from Cisco Systems and has held leadership roles not only in mining but in energy, financial services and information technology.

His position as head of HR will be taken by Lee-Ann Samuel, who will become Gold Fields’ Senior Vice-President, Human Resources and previously headed the company’s Remuneration and Employee Benefits portfolio. Ms Samuel, who joined Gold Fields in 2009, has held a number of managerial positions at large private sector companies and has consulted widely to local and provincial government departments.

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