25 February 2013

South Africa: Govt, Mining Stakeholders Sign Peace, Stability Framework

Pretoria — Government and mining stakeholders on Thursday, 21 February 2013, signed a framework to help secure peace and stability in the sector.

"A task team, constituted by all role-players, agreed to work on the document, the framework for peace and stability," Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu said.

This signing of the document comes after violence flared up in the platinum sector, where 13 people were hurt in clashes at a mine near Rustenburg on Monday.

A group of about 1 000 workers demanded the closure of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) offices at Amplats' Siphumelele mine.

Shabangu -- flanked by stakeholders including representatives from the Chamber of Mines, NUM, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), UASA, Solidarity and Anglo Platinum -- briefed the media on the signing of this key framework.

"On Monday, we saw the tension [at] Amplats. We thought as government, we couldn't watch and wait.

"We need to come on board, call all the stakeholders and say 'how do we move forward?'" said Shabangu.

She said government -- represented by the Departments of Mineral Resources and Labour -- as well as stakeholders met to discuss a way forward and to prevent a repeat of the tumultuous events that unfolded in the sector last year.

"What happened need not happen again," she said in reference to the Marikana tragedy last year.

Shabangu stressed the importance of creating an environment where workers were able to do their work.

The signing of the agreement would lead to the start of a healing process among all parties, she added.

All parties involved, with the exception of the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), have agreed to the document. However, the union had been involved in the process that began on Tuesday.

Shabangu remained positive that Amcu would come to the party and sign the agreement.

"Sadly, Amcu is not here. We've never left them behind. We've been trying to get hold of them," she said.

The minister reiterated that parties were committed to bringing back stability to the industry.

According to the framework, violence, intimidation, lack of respect and intolerance for different views and freedom of association and disassociation should be eradicated. Instead, respect for life and property, rule of law and existing agreements and policies should prevail.

"We are committed to normalising the mining sector. We don't want to go back to last year. Past experiences are lessons of ensuring the future won't be the same," said Shabangu.

The Chamber of Mines committed itself to the framework to ensure stability, saying it appreciated the collaboration between role players.

Numsa also agreed to the document, saying no industry could prosper if there was instability.

"We can't have a sector in turmoil," said Shabangu.


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