Phaahla aims to form the first black-owned and managed mining and resource company worldwide

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Few people can claim to travel as much as the president and the foreign affairs minister, but Tjate Platinum chairman Vincent Phaahla is one of those men.

"I am always on the road, going to mining conferences and meetings around the world in hopes of developing the local industry," he says. "I'm always looking for new opportunities and potential sources of finance."

Phaahla was born in Polokwane in the early 1950s. His father was a businessman, which allowed for as comfortable a life as was possible under the circumstances. He went to Pax High School until standard eight and moved to Hans Kekakana High School in Hammanskraal where he was expelled for political activity.

"I completed my matric at Bopedi Bapedi High where I was the only student to study history," he notes. "There was no teacher so I became the teacher and the student. All the school had to do was facilitate the exam at the end of the year. I don't even think that you can do that nowadays."

In 1974 Phaahla went to the University of the North where he continued his political activism until he was expelled in 1975. "I was there to study law. Half the time we were on strike and very little schooling was taking place. The university was in turmoil."

When his clandestine activities became known to the apartheid government, Phaahla went into exile in 1979 via Lusaka to the United States. "In the US I was directly involved in the anti-apartheid movement. We went across North America lobbying companies to divest from South Africa and the biggest companies left South Africa through our efforts."

Phaahla received various degrees from acclaimed American universities and was awarded the United Nations Fellowship. Today he sits on the boards of 13 companies involved in the resources sector and acti-vely participates in the structuring of mining legislation and the mining charter.

"People think the struggle is over, but it's just begun. Mining is the most critical industry in Africa, but mining does not benefit this country's people in any way," he asserts, "I intend to start the first real black-owned and managed mining and resources company in the world."