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Govt scrambles to calm investors

Sep 30 2012 15:30
Sabelo Ndlangisa and Mmanaledi Mataboge, City Press

Susan Shabangu (Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu will visit India in a month’ time as part of her crusade to assure international investors that South Africa is a safe destination for their money.

On Thursday Moody’s Investors Service downgraded South Africa’s credit rating by one notch, citing concerns about the government’s ability to tackle economic problems and a “decline in the government’s institutional strength.”

Shabangu, however, said the mining crisis was not a factor in Moody’s decision, because threat of a downgrade had been looming on the horizon for a while. 

As wildcat strikes continue to spread in the mining sector, questions are being asked by the international community about whether the government is still in control.

Shabangu said investors in India were keen to hear what the government was doing about the ongoing mining crisis.

Meanwhile, labour federation Cosatu announced on Saturday that it will, together with its affiliate the National Union of Mineworkers, lead the wildcat strikes. 

Cosatu is trying to restore its own credibility and that of the Num after miners in several companies decided to negotiate salary increases without the union.

General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Saturday told striking Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] KDC West miners the Num had agreed to join the workers in their fight for better wages.

Vavi said Cosatu and the Num would lead a march to Gold Fields management in Klerksdorp, and later plan another march to the Chamber of Mines in Johannesburg.

“If they fire you they must know that an injury to one is an injury to all,” Vavi said.

“Num will stand by you to ensure that if you’re fired, you’re reinstated.”

Cosatu will hold a special national executive committee meeting this week to discuss the implementation of last week’s congress resolution which called for an investigation into miners’ working conditions.

President Sdumo Dlamini said there was also a fear that the rejection of Num by mine workers accusing it of being ineffective may also affect another affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

“It’s about ultimately breaking Cosatu. If you want to break Cosatu, you start with the biggest affiliate in a sector that is vulnerable and with illiterate people who are desperate for a decent wage.”

Shabangu, an ANC national executive committee member, said the strikes had nothing to do with the governing party’s leadership race ahead of its December elective conference in Mangaung, Free State.

“What we are seeing are worker demands which are sporadic,” she said, adding that the unprotected strikes could not be sustained for longer periods.

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