EFF leader Julius Malema has told striking mineworkers to stand firm on their demand, calling for an inquiry into claims that R12 500 is unaffordable.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has called for a commission of inquiry to be established to investigate whether mining companies cannot afford to pay employees R12 500 per month or are simply unwilling to do so.
Malema addressed a crowd of supporters in Wonderkop, outside Rustenburg on Sunday, at a rally organised to thank those who voted for the EFF, making it an official opposition in the North West.
“We believe very strongly that mines can afford R12 500,” Malema told the crowd, most of them mineworkers and their families. Malema said this against the backdrop of discussions between miners and companies whether to accept the latest offer from mining companies that was tabled last week.
Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala and Anglo American Platinum have been on strike since January, demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.
On Thursday, they urged the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to accept a proposed wage settlement that would increase their salary by R1 000 over two years and R950 in the third year.
Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa told the media his union had accepted a new wage offer “in principle”, adding some issues were outstanding.
Malema urged mineworkers to continue fighting for the R12 500, an amount that was popularised by the deadly 2012 Marikana strike that saw police shooting dead 34 mineworkers.
Obey the guidance of Amcu
“We are going to fight until the rights of workers are recognised,” Malema said.
“We are in Parliament. For the first time Parliament will discuss R12 500,” he added.
He urged mineworkers to respect and obey the guidance of Amcu. “In every negotiation there are compromises. We are not going to compromise on the demand of R12 500.
“We can only compromise on the tactics of attaining R12 500,” he said.
“Amcu leadership will give direction on the next move. Trust them. The leadership know when to attack and when to retreat.”
He said workers had the power to negotiate more money. “Never compromise. We are not ashamed of you.”
Malema also took a swipe at President Jacob Zuma, saying he must suffer.
“Zuma is not sick, he is a troubled man. We do not wish him well, we wish him long suffering,” Malema said.
Zuma was given time off to rest last week with ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe citing the after effects of a gruelling election campaign that had taken its toll on all party officials.
Zuma is expected to resume work on Tuesday.
“He must suffer until he takes responsibility for the killing of mineworkers. He killed your husbands, brothers and sons. How does he expect to be at peace when he had killed so many people? The spirits are troubling him now.”
Malema was referring to the death of mineworkers at Marikana in August 2012. – Additional reporting by Sapa