NEC ‘paying attention to the Marikana situation’ says Mantashe

The socio-economic conditions of mine workers at Lonmin's Marikana mine, in North West, were part of what led to their violent protest, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.

"Mining remains the bedrock of the South African economy, and yet the abject poverty and squalor surrounding mining areas remains a matter of deep concern," he said.

Mantashe was speaking after a national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Pretoria on Friday and Saturday.

"We have dedicated a lot of time to discussing the Marikana tragedy," he said.

Mantashe said the ANC had, in the past decade, sought to address the situation in mining through the Mining Charter.

"Tragically, in the platinum sector in particular and mining in general, employees and companies have paid lip service to the undertaking in the charter to ensure that living and working conditions of workers in the mining sector are improved."

Mantashe called on the platinum sector to join the centralised bargaining system, because this would go a long way towards finding lasting solutions in the sector and would contribute towards more peaceful resolution of wage and other disputes.

"The NEC declared its support for the work done by government to date," Mantashe said.

"There was agreement in the NEC on giving space and support to the judicial commission of inquiry appointed by President [Jacob] Zuma."

Dealing with incitement
On Friday, before the NEC meeting started, Mantashe warned of anarchy if incitement to violence was tolerated.

"We cannot allow lawlessness to roll over the country and think it should be rewarded and therefore begin a norm in society," he told reporters in Pretoria.

"Our appeal we are making to the state: people must exercise their rights, but violence should not be an option when exercising those rights."

Mantashe said the NEC would focus on a number of issues including the situation at platinum mines.

"We are paying attention to the Marikana situation and its ramifications," he said.

"We are not trying to cover what would be covered by the commission of inquiry. We are looking into the political economy of the development and the long-term impacts on society in general."

Mantashe said it was not the business of the NEC to deal with incitement, but that of the state.

Incitement is a criminal offence and it is written as such in the Constitution, he said.

"Tolerance to incitement and agitation is something that can lead to anarchy," he said.

"Once anarchy rules society, that society degenerates, and that society collapses in the long run."

Mantashe said there would be at least two special NEC meetings in the run-up to the Mangaung elective conference, to ensure a "smooth national conference".  – Sapa.

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