The ANC leadership has questioned whether the strike in the North West platinum belt is a political one, its secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.
“Of concern was whether this was a collective bargaining strike or a political strike,” he told reporters at Luthuli House following the party’s national executive committee meeting this week. “This question arose having noted … disturbing developments.”
Some of the developments included the Economic Freedom Fighters’s (EFF’s) alleged involvement in negotiations, or, according to the party’s statement: “The direct participation of EFF in the negotiations, and thus collaboration with the foreign forces.” The other development included the articulation of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (Amcu’s) position, apparently by white foreign nationals. “The articulation of Amcu position by white foreign nationals, signalling interest of the foreign forces in the distabilisation of our economy,” read the statement.
“These two factors led the lekgotla into cautioning the ministry of mineral resources in handling the facilitation with care,” said Mantashe. “There were questions about the role of the state in workplace disputes where there are clear rules guiding it.”
Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500. They have so far rejected the companies’ offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017.
New Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up an inter-governmental technical team to help resolve the wage dispute.
Eastern Cape affected the worst
Meanwhile, the South African Communist Party [SACP] said on Sunday that the strike in the North West platinum belt would affect the Eastern Cape the worst.
“Our province will be the [biggest] bearer of the scars of any negative consequences of the protracted strike as many of the people from the Eastern Cape are working in the mining sector, owing to the colonisation of a special type, which used our province as a reservoir of labour,” SACP Eastern Cape provincial spokesperson Siyabonga Mdodi said.
Minister Ramatlhodi on Saturday said he could pull out of the negotiation process if no agreement was reached by Monday. Mantashe, who was speaking at Luthuli House, said on Sunday that the government intervened because people were being killed and it did not want a repeat of the 2012 Marikana tragedy.
On August 16 2012, 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead by police who were trying to disarm and disperse them. Another 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.
The platinum strike and other issues were discussed at the SACP’s provincial executive committee meeting held in East London over the weekend. Mdodi said the party condemned “the conduct and the attitude” of mine bosses and said the strike should be resolved as soon as possible.
“The current impasse in the platinum belt must be resolved as soon as possible with jobs defended and the transformation of the mining sector as a whole not being side-lined with the only focus on remuneration,” he said.– Sapa, additional reporting by Staff Reporter