WORLDVIEW: History matters in business – witness Opium Wars, dead Ndebele warriors.

By Alec Hogg

A statement yesterday from Ivanhoe Mines’s Platreefs project caught my eye. Not just because of its hypocrisy, but for a deeper reflection of how our perspectives of history influence the way we see things – even in business.

The R20bn Platreefs development has been held up by a small group of activists led by Limpopo shopkeeper Aubrey Langa. He has numerous objections but mainly wants to stop the Canadian-based company “relocating” a graveyard of long-dead Ndebele warriors.

Langa won the first round when granted an interim interdict by the North Gauteng High Court. But yesterday, Platreefs trumpeted, that was overturned by Judge John Murphy in Pretoria’s Palace of Justice, site of 1963’s Rivonia Trial of Nelson Mandela and nine others.

An exuberant Ivanhoe referred to Langa’s “criminal record”. Which is like throwing stones in a glass house. Sure, Langa got into some trouble as a youth. But Ivanhoe’s founder Robert Friedland is, well, a lot more colourful. A m...

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