11 June 2014

South Africa: Platinum Strike - Wages, Politics and the ANC's False Boogeymen

Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Striking mine workers (file photo).

As the platinum mining strike edges towards its sixth month, hope has now dwindled that a resolution will be found anytime soon. The brief intervention by the Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi ended without his being able to bridge the impasse between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and mining companies Lonmin, Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum.

While the country grapples with the question of "Now what?" there should be consideration given to what this strike represents and why the ANC believes there is something sinister behind it.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe set out to make a point and made it in no uncertain terms. Announcing the outcome of a two-day lekgotla of the ANC and its alliance partners, Mantashe said on Sunday that the strike on the platinum belt was a major contributing factor to the 0.6% negative growth for the first quarter of 2014.

"Of concern was whether this was a collective bargaining strike or a political strike," Mantashe said. He then went on to list "disturbing developments" which led the ANC to question the legitimacy of the strike. These included "the articulation of AMCU position by white foreign nationals, signalling...

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