Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Former ANC Leader Embroiled With Mining Company At Heart Of Labor Killings
Aug. 20 (GIN) – Tension continues to seethe at a South African platinum mine where striking workers were shot point-blank last week in the worst case of government-sponsored violence since the apartheid era ended in 1994.
On Aug. 16, 34 people were killed when police opened fire on 3000 striking workers, some of them armed, after a week of violent protests. Another 10 people, including a shop steward from the National Union of Mineworkers, had by then been killed in violent protests at the mine.
The strike was started by rock-drill operators at the Marikana platinum-mining complex of UK-based Lonmin Plc, demanding pay raises from $648 to $1,500 a month (the minimum monthly wage for farmwork).
"You work so very hard for very little pay. It is almost like death," said a striking miner speaking to the press, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Thulani.
Ironically, among the company’s non-voting executive directors is the former secretary of the Africa National Congress, now billionaire, Cyril Ramaphosa. As strike talks broke down and violence loomed, ANC leader Zuma, Ramaphosa and others were out of town.
The shootings, which went viral on the internet, rocked the nation back on its heels. Pres. Zuma said the dead would be officially mourned for seven days. Nonetheless, the company ordered workers to return to their jobs by today, Aug. 20, or be terminated.
"Employees could be dismissed if they fail to heed the final ultimatum," warned Ian P. Farmer, Lonmin’s CEO.
But miners say they will press on with their demands, and called the order to return to work "an insult" to colleagues who were gunned down by police.
"Expecting us to go back is like an insult. Many of our friends and colleagues are dead, then they expect us to resume work. Never," said worker Zachariah Mbewu in a press interview.
Flags will be lowered to half mast and an official day for nationwide memorial services held on Thursday.
Meanwhile, former ANC youth leader Julius Malema attended a miners rally where he backed the call for higher pay and denounced Pres. Zuma for traveling to Mozambique as the crisis unfolded President Jacob Zuma has presided over the "massacre of the people of South Africa,” Malema said. “How can he call on people to mourn those he has killed? He must step down." w/pix of Cyril Ramaphosa