SA miner threats pressure ANC

2012-09-13 17:47

Rustenburg - Striking platinum miners delivered much higher pay demands on Thursday and threatened to spread industrial action further, deepening a crisis that is becoming the biggest threat to the ruling ANC since the end of apartheid.

In the face of the spiralling labour unrest in Africa's biggest economy, President Jacob Zuma said the government would crack down on anybody stirring up trouble.

"It is not just the miners striking. It also some people of some description who are going there to instigate miners," said Zuma, who faces an ANC leadership election in December. "We are going to be acting very soon," he told Parliament in Cape Town.

What began as an industrial dispute has evolved into a grass-roots rebellion by blacks who have seen little improvement in their lives since white minority rule ended 18 years ago.

At a soccer stadium in the heart of the platinum belt, thousands of workers heard a call from one protest leader for a national strike to "bring the mining companies to their knees".

"On Sunday, we are starting with a general strike here in Rustenburg," Mametlwe Sebei, from a fringe Marxist political party, told the workers near the town which lies 100km northwest of Johannesburg.

He drew mild applause from the crowd, armed with sticks and pangas, and it was unclear if the strike call would be heeded.

Despite the weapons, the strikers insisted their push for a sharp hike in wages was peaceful - even after the 16 August police shooting of 34 protesters at Lonmin's nearby Marikana platinum mine.

"There should be no blood," one placard read.

As investors started to fret about the impact on wider economic growth, the rand fell more than one percent against the dollar - compounding a 3 percent slide on Wednesday.

Mining accounts for 6% of South Africa's output.

Most men at the soccer stadium said they worked for top producer Anglo American Platinum, commonly known as Amplats, which suspended operations at its four Rustenburg mines on Wednesday after they were blockaded by marchers.

Spreading challenge

A group of more than 100 chanting strikers, many waving sticks and "knobkerry" clubs, accompanied protest leaders as they delivered a written memorandum laying out their demands to Amplats management offices near the Bleskop stadium.

Police armoured vehicles kept the larger crowd of miners inside the stadium, within sight of a white clubhouse painted with Amplats corporate slogans such as "We value and care about each other" and "We are one team".

The demands were for an increase of basic pay and allowances to R16 000 a month - nearly three times their current salary and more than double per capita GDP in the continent's richest country.

As the stick-waving miners accompanied their leaders back to the stadium, they chanted: "We won't give up!"

They said they would not return to work until top management - including Cynthia Carroll, chief executive of Amplats parent company Anglo American - came to hear them out.

"She must come to the workers," a 32-year-old called Kasigo told Reuters. "If they don't come, we won't work."

Amplats confirmed it had received the demands and was monitoring the situation closely.

Malema "danger"

The labour unrest began with a violent six-week strike at Impala Platinum in January. It intensified in mid-August, sending platinum prices up 20 percent since then.

It stems from a challenge by the small but militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to the dominance of the ANC-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers(NUM) and is also spreading into the gold sector.

World number four producer Gold Fields said NUM officials came under attack when they tried to address wildcat strikers at its KDC West mine near Johannesburg, where 15,000 men downed tools last week.

ANC renegade Julius Malema - the de facto face of an unofficial "Anyone but Zuma" rebellion in the ANC - has entered the fray, accusing the polygamous Zuma of being more interested in arranging weddings than trying to clean up the mess.

Ministers and NUM leaders have dismissed Malema as an irresponsible opportunist but the expelled Youth League leader is becoming a star for the legions of South Africa's impoverished black majority.

"People who believe that Malema does not present a danger to South Africa have missed the point," said Richard Faber, a fixed income trader at Johannesburg brokerage Worldwide Capital. "It is his ideology that presents the danger and that is gathering momentum."

The platinum price held steady on Thursday near the 5-month high it hit following the Amplats shut-downs.

Amplats shares fell as much 1.8% in early trade before bouncing to be up 1.3% by 14:00 GMT.

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  • markus.hegewisch - 2012-09-13 17:55

    Are they being ridiculous? To want EVEN more....

      henryian73 - 2012-09-13 18:08

      But we will 'Kill for Zuma' when Helen Zille tried her very best to STOP him. And now? Both Zuma and Malema corrupt to the core. Pity is is the fact that he a very talented young man that could have become another great leadr in our nation but he lacked the proper mentorship and training. His end is near pity for the dark days laying ahead to rid ourselves from self serving politicians only interested in their own back pockets. Malema apparently have Millions and Millions of Rands. Obviously money that was meant for the poor and service delivery. Not nice!!!

      Zahir - 2012-09-13 19:52

      Yes the miners will be line up for govt grants when the mine shuts operations

  • sebenza.vanrooy - 2012-09-13 17:57

    The black child must risk dying and burn tyres before his requests are heard in this day and era. This is nonsense, why do you let this happen ANC, in our soil?

      desertratbkf - 2012-09-13 18:23

      You know? We still have unity! A great comment!

  • christelle.james.7 - 2012-09-13 18:01

    I personally like the idea of it being such a threat to the ANC - hmmm, die blinde sambok piets hulle nou lekker:-)

  • larry.piggott1 - 2012-09-13 18:03

    Whoever is orchestrating this, is aware that they are dealing with a Government with no spine. A Government with a history of backing down and caving in to any organization, such as the Taxi industry. There is also the "Skeleton in the Closet", that certain senior people dont want exposed. So! I believe that the Carpet is going to have another bump under it and the Miners will be thrown a bone or two.

      eugene.meyer1980 - 2012-09-13 19:23

      You know Larry, speaking of a government with no spine...what did they expect. Its all this corruption in the government that is causing it to be spineless. I bet Zuma wished that he could step in and put a end to all of this, but I bet even more that somewhere in the dark there is a reason why he has not step up and act like a president should. Theres a couple of dirty favors that has taken him to be where he is, and now it is keeping him stale in this issue we have.This government will not come clean, and it will never have a spine. The only thing that can save the government is to pull the carpet from under their feet. Let the whole lot fall back on their behinds where dirty little favors cant help you

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-09-13 18:09

    Anc lost control long ago!

      colin.dovey - 2012-09-13 18:47

      They have never had control

  • desertratbkf - 2012-09-13 18:12

    The people are speaking!!!!! Do something! Its called LISTEN!!!!! Call me on 0800 SHOWERHEADS!!!!!

  • beki.khumalo - 2012-09-13 18:20

    There's absolutely no doubt that Malema is an opportunist with questionable motives, however he is only taking advantage of a situation that exists. He's not the creator of this mayhem, the current ANC leadership created this mess. And instead of Zuma addressing the real issues, he's going after the man! Will it solve anything? NO! He's approach so short sighted, it only goes as far as Mangaung. For as long as the poorest of the poor remain neglected, the likes of Malema will find a platform to strive. It's about damn time that the ANC has a decisive and strong leader not prone to corruption. A leader that will put the interest of the nation first: crime, unemployment, education to name but a few! We are ranked 140 out of 146 nations in the education sector, and Zuma, today in Parliament, says we doing well and the fault is with apartheid! How long will apartheid be blamed for the failure of our leaders to deliver? Zuma must GO!

      henk.vanrensburg.31 - 2012-09-13 18:42

      Apartheid will be blamed for as long as the people vote for the ANC...

      beki.khumalo - 2012-09-13 19:06

      Apartheid will be blamed for as long as there are incompetent 'leaders' in the ANC, those who refuse to take responsibilty. As an ANC member I can tell you that the ANC is more than capable of effective gorvenance. That's a fact! Proper leadership is needed urgently! If people don't for the ANC who are they gonna vote for? The DA? Have black South Africans healed enough to vote for a white led political party? I'm not too sure, and I'm not saying that the DA doesn't have the ability to lead this country. I'm merely saying it's still too early considering that majority of the voters are black. For now some of us will continue to fight from inside for what is right for ALL South Africans.

      martin.melzer.988 - 2012-09-13 19:38

      The top end of the ANC are far from stupid but they are hamstrung by wrong policies used to consolidate power but now having fatal side-effects; namely Cadre deployment rather than advancement on merit. This is the main reason for the ANC's inability to deliver services and consequently the main reason for the unrest which clouds the future of all South Africans

      maune.moima - 2012-09-13 19:42

      dats ur opinion smart guy

      christelle.james.7 - 2012-09-13 20:36

      Beki - so much sense from you! Awesome - I agree that any party can lead our country - really does not matter whether they are black or white - as long as they put the country above themselves and their own agendas. I think (hope) that white South Africans would feel comfortable with a black leader - one who does not embarrass our country - one who has proper leadership abilities - one who does not believe the you can only enable the poor by disabling the rich. I also agree with you that the healing for the majority of black people is not close to trusting a white leader yet.

      francois.leroux.779 - 2012-09-14 09:34

      I subscribe to your comments Beki. And I am sure there is leadership potential amongst the intelligentia in the ANC. However, the idea has to hit home that a leader has to have some measure of selflessness; he is governing firstly in the interest of others, so that others can benefit - own interests should be curbed in toto. But that selflessness, that absence of greed, has only been seen in Nelson Mandela; until the ANC gets that type of leadership, it will remain a struggle in itself. And it will lose support to the DA. Frankly, I do not care which party governs the country - as long as they make a success of it, because we are wasting a whole generation!

  • jaco.dutoit.796 - 2012-09-13 18:23

    Our land is going to fail due to uncompetent people trying to lead and then less clever ones trying to take them down the time has come to decide what we going to do malema and zume is corrupted and they trying to nail all cultures we are looking bad in other countries they laugh at us

  • facts.peter - 2012-09-13 18:27

    The end in this lovely country of ours is near. Everything is a mess and I always predicted that this country will go down much harder and quicker than Zim. So many people laughed at me and told me I was mad. Bye-bye SA. Nothing can stop this rot anymore.

  • desertratbkf - 2012-09-13 18:27

    NEWS24!!!! Look at your HEADLINES???????? WTF are you talking about? ILLITERATES taking over media???

      desertratbkf - 2012-09-13 18:30

      Your punctuation etc. is disgusting! One of the - or _ would suffice!

  • andre.ackermann.14 - 2012-09-13 18:30

    Where is clever minister Davies who flew to Europe a week ago as representative of his ignorent buddies in Parlement to convince investors that money are safe in a stable SA. Or, do we have a "bolt that was maliciously thrown in the nuclear reactor by Mr Ewen at Koeberg a few years ago? They are so stupid to think that the rest of the world is equaly stupid. They have no answer to the problems they have allowed to happen. Oh, before i forget...there are street names to change and a Zumaville on the horizon and BEE crab and...those are priorities my friends!

  • madoda.monamudi - 2012-09-13 18:31

    Is time for President Zuma to lead the country into a right direction. Government must intervene in mining Sector and stop busy trying to formulate charges for JuJu. Now they are after Julius Malima instead of solving the current situation we have in Mine's.

      henk.vanrensburg.31 - 2012-09-13 18:54

      Time the people stop voting ANC. How is that for a solution!

  • Kalari - 2012-09-13 19:00

    I wonder what happened to NUM's ragged teeth Irwin Jim with the big mouth. Quietly hiding in the bushes I suppose.

      mchieken1 - 2012-09-13 23:19

      Irvin Jim is the Secretary General of NUMSA not NUM and Frans Baleni is the secretary of NUM

  • punungwe - 2012-09-13 19:05

    People should realize Malema is not the problem. Malema is only a maggot in the wound, otherwise the wound is already there. The first step is strict enforcement of the law upon the miners themselves. Prevent intimidation. Arrest people for murder, not negotiating with them. Prevent the carrying of weapons. Use curfews and body searches if necessary. Diligent service delivery. Leaders should not get distracted by their own comfort. Their own comfort and importance matters little in the face of a hungry mob. Do not take short-sighted steps aimed getting accolades the next day. These will only buy you short term reprieve. Take the tough steps that have long term benefits NOW. This also includes the mining sector. A white colleague who does transport to Zimbabwe, buys comfortable air-conditioned trucks. He complains that he keeps getting told by other whites that he shouldn't buy such comfortable trucks for black drivers. He should just buy TATA because blacks don't need comfort. These attitudes among whites need to change. Responsible management of the workers welfare needs to take place. Companies in the mining sector can afford to improve the welfare of their workers. Without the safety buffer of a racist government, they will not be able to withstand a disgruntled workforce's complaints. Co-opting black politicians is not enough. They still have to go back to the masses for votes. Populism then trounces reason. Believe me I know the cycle. I come from Zimbabwe.

      george.pito - 2012-09-13 19:46

      Hi pununqwe It is very ineteresting what you say. The Lonmin mine is basically Rhamaposa which comes from a history of creating unrest in mines. The story about the airconditioning taxis is fine but I can assure yoy that if you are providing a better service in transport in this country somebody is gonna kill you. See putting an aircon on a vehicle comes at a price energy is required so if they are willing to pay the price why not. Then what are the people from Zim doing here are they on holiday or taking jobs from people that dont want to work. I also like comfort like getting some sleep at night not worrying about safety, work etc. Peoples welfare my friend I am in a proffesional career and guess what everyday to me is hell to make a living as everyting is corrupt in this country. I have probably more than 30 years experience and I am to old to leave this country. To date there is no democracy in this country as one party controls everything. The president for example is highly qualified ? Sorry I agree so much with you but also disagree and if this country can get a system where we can argue about it and understand the problem Bwala

  • Zahir - 2012-09-13 19:24

    SA is sinking fast this situtation is reaching a major end game the center can't hold we are in serious crap Anc

  • Johnson - 2012-09-13 21:54

    We are all being fed big lies - whilst this and that is fighting for power, it seems there is always something going on behind closed doors and we are all falling for it - black and white { seems like these guys are playing with South African of all race groups} it just depends what you want out of what you are busy with. Why is Malema fighting Lonmin (Ramaposa) - Zuma did not protect him whilst he protected Zuma - miners are being used and they dont even know it. In fact they are already being paid R12 500 pm but Cyril puts more than 1/2 in his pocket. You all thought that Malema was stupid - he know more and know how to use people to get what he wants "power""

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2012-09-14 13:02

    "We are going to be acting very soon" Same old story, like we are going to act against corruption very soon. Zuma, all this is to get rid of you in December, may it work.

  • Kalimowakene - 2012-09-14 13:08

    I see nothing wrong with JUJU, he is just saying the truth that we dont want to hear. Can a qualified miner earn 4000 in this country please. 22 years down the line? JUJU stands for the suffering and its us miners.

  • quartus.vanzyl - 2012-09-14 18:45

    it is time for declaration of emergency. there completely out of control in no time with mahem, blood shed etc.

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