Strike won’t put miners off voting

2014-05-04 06:00

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On Wednesday, striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in Marikana will get up early – not to work, but to vote.

City Press spoke to 15 miners in the Wonderkop informal settlement who have decided to stay in Marikana even though there’s no money to sustain their lives there.

They have been on strike for more than three months and some told City Press they would stay away from work “until 2017” if that’s what it takes to get a monthly basic salary of R12 500.

One miner, who wouldn’t give his name because he feared persecution by his striking colleagues, said he wanted to go back to work but was afraid to say so.

“I want to accept this new offer but I am worried because many other people would not support me. “My family is suffering, I am suffering. But I am also worried that Lonmin is lying again because they have made an offer in 2012 but after one month they stopped fulfilling their promise,” he said.

Others are digging in their heels – and most of those interviewed by City Press said they would be voting.

Lonmin rock drill operator Sibongiseni Mzamo from Flagstaff in Eastern Cape said the strike wouldn’t stop him from casting his ballot on Wednesday.

“I will wake up in the morning and go vote. It is regrettable that people are mixing these two things. “There is no connection between politics and our money. We want the money we have worked for. Voting is our right and the money we are striking for is connected to the mines.

“Many different parties have been promising us that they would help but we don’t know who will come through for us. But each person must vote for whichever party they feel will help them,” said Mzamo.

Machine belt operator Zola Mthembu, who earns R5 000 a month, is registered but isn’t sure whether he’ll vote.

“Why should I vote when I am facing problems now and no one cares that we haven’t worked for three months?” Mthembu asked.

“I will not be voting for the current government because I have heard nothing from them about this strike. They have left us here for three months to starve.”

Michael Gidi knows exactly where his vote is going. Gidi says he’s loved and supported the ANC since he can remember but those days are over.

“The ANC showed me that they don’t care about my vote after what happened in 2012. I was sitting on the koppie when the police gunned us down for begging for R12 500,” said Gidi, referring to the Marikana shooting.

He describes Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema as “a man with a backbone”. Malema, he said, was the only politician who came to listen to the miners after the massacre.

Gidi was also pleased that the advocate representing Lonmin’s miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, Dali Mpofu, had joined the EFF.

“For Mpofu to join the EFF was a good thing. He is our lawyer and now he is a member of our party.

“If I don’t vote at all, that would be beneficial to this party [the ANC] that doesn’t know us any more,” he said.

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