Strikes catch miners off guard

2012-09-13 10:33

Johannesburg - Susan Shabangu, the Mineral Resources Minister, said the country's mining companies were "caught napping" by the series of strikes in the platinum sector, and has promised to apply the terms of the updated mining charter with greater force.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Shabangu criticised mining companies for failing to anticipate a "complete twist" in labour relations. She added the mining charter had been treated like a "gentleman's agreement".

She also believed the industrial action, which resulted in Anglo Platinum (Amplats) yesterday suspending production at five of its six shafts in the Rustenburg region, was becoming a trend.

“We had already noticed that we need to be tough when we decided to review the (mining) act but, with Marikana, it’s like justifying the reason to be tougher,” Shabangu told the Financial Times.

“We are going to regulate it (the mining charter) now. We were avoiding that because we thought we were dealing with adults, mature people who understand. We will make it to be enforced, and if not, serious penalties must happen,” she said.

Government's voice has largely been muted throughout the strike action which has its roots in a six-week strike in March when the Associated Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) led a violent strike at Impala Platinum.

However, Shabangu told the newspaper that government was taking action in association with the mining industry.

“We are engaging with them (the miners) through the Department of Labour, but the biggest challenge is to be able to say what are the other issues,” she said.

Shabangu added: "This is a country which has a history of mining and it’s not a good history because it’s a history of mining which never cared.

“And that history has to be changed. Any individual who wants to come into this space and invest has to come with a different mindset.”

Tensions in the industry have also been stoked further by expelled ANC youth league leader Julius Malema who has vowed to make mines "ungovernable".

But Shabangu dismissed Malema as a “rabble-rouser” and reiterated the government’s stance on nationalisation, saying it was "no longer a factor" for the ANC.

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  • dinky.westbrook.3 - 2012-09-13 10:49

    Do capitalist investors need our nonsense (euphemism) ? Zimbabwe has more untapped minerals than RSA. Our barrel is becoming too deep and expensive. The other "nonsense" is just a side effect and can be bribed out of the way. Our people nod off to sleep as new investment and growth moves north. Slim het sy baas gevang. I love our idioms - so expressive.

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-09-13 11:14

      It's time for the mining companies to increase mechanisation. That way they can reduce their dependance on labour. Machines don't strike and are more reliable. And with a smaller labour force it reduces their risks with labour issues. They can rather put more resources into developing a more highly skilled and better paid worker.

      rodney.overes - 2012-09-13 11:26

      The international group that we do business with has already given instructions to get rid of all there South African assets and turn there investments to other African countries where there is a more stable environment for investors, this will amount to about 3000 job losses in our industry alone.

  • clive.kihn - 2012-09-13 10:52

    Perhaps Shabangu should repeat the "shoot the bastards" remark she used while she was deputy police minister.

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-09-13 10:58

    The blame gain again...........the whole ANC was caught napping and now they running around and dont know what to do. One little guy has them covering up their secrets incase pandora's box gets opened.

  • crracker.crackerr - 2012-09-13 10:59

    Too scared to deal with the miners and their allies? So pick on the weakest link - those who do not march around with and display deadly weapons.

  • Ze Don - 2012-09-13 11:03

    It's time for the mines to fire ALL the illegal strikers. Otherwise this nonsense will never end!

  • sekwati.robinson - 2012-09-13 11:12

    shut the hell up shabangu,we need people who get ministerial position out of merit not because they are who and who's girlfriends..

  • ro.jhb.1 - 2012-09-13 11:16

    Shabangu you are clearly so out of your depth its frightening. The laws should be upheld so if they werent you should be fired. In reality mines do more for this country than the hole parliament and ANC together.

  • brendan.vogt.1 - 2012-09-13 11:28

    No Susan, you got it wrong. Government was caught fast asleep and with their pants down. Now they too scared to even go close the the mines or miners.

  • peter.fraser.92754 - 2012-09-13 11:34

    Can someone tell me what Mr Motsepe and Sexwale's mines pay ? Are they at the R12500pm mark ?

  • denis.dendrinos - 2012-09-13 11:42

    Brilliant - they were no where the whole time, nowhere when the first police got murdered or the first security guards. They were too scared to go address their own people and have let this spiral completely out of control. So what do we do now - blame the mines....... Accountable much?

      hein.huyser - 2012-09-14 07:24

      They were not nowhere! they were overseas on your expenses.

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