Johannesburg, South Africa — 05 September 2012 – South Africa’s powerful National Mineworkers Union (NUM) is trying to rein in the unrest in the country’s mining sector which has turned into a battleground for rival political and labour factions.
The NUM, a key ally of the ruling African National Congress, has denounced calls to exploit the turmoil that stemmed from the killings at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine last month, reports Fin24.
“In a normal environment it would be regarded as economic sabotage,” said NUM general secretary Frans Baleni.
The ANC’s fiery former youth leader Julius Malema has been travelling to troubled mines, firing up workers and attacking his enemies in the party that expelled him, including President Jacob Zuma.
Last week, he told workers to make mines “ungovernable” and on Monday he told striking gold miners at Gold Fields, where 12 000 miners have downed tools, to by-pass the NUM if they felt the labour giant had failed them.
The stoppages have shut down Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, which has been in the spotlight since 44 people died last month in a deadly strike for a wage hike. Union rivalry has been blamed for the escalation.
Yesterday, a group of 200 miners marched on the mine, where police shot dead 34 protesters last month, demanding that their colleagues do not return to work at the world’s number three platinum producer.
Talks are set to restart today, after government mediators failed to reach a breakthrough with mine management, unions and worker representatives.
Observers point to political jockeying as the ANC gears up for a crucial year-end elective conference, and they don’t foresee a quick let-up until after the conference is held in Bloemfontein in December.
The NUM “’ the country’s largest union with 300,000 members “’ has come under fire for its close ties with the ANC and is also facing challenges to its dominance on mineworkers membership.
Source: Fin24. For more information, click here.