It is with great sadness that I write to you this letter in the wake of the Marikana Saga.
As a fellow South African, I would like to state that for me it is not about black or white and I certainly do not condone any loss of life as I believe it is a precious gift.
However, I must ask you to forgive me as I am going to very frank.
In my opinion the biggest issue we have in South Africa is that we find it easy to blame our circumstances on everything and everyone EXCEPT ourselves and that we fail to take responsibility for our own actions.
I understand and agree with you that your work is hard and that what you do, carries a certain level of risk. I also understand that you feel “exploited”. If it is true that you really only earn R4k per month, then I would agree that I bit of a pay rise is in order, but not R12 500.
Now I need to ask the question Mr. Miner, when you applied for a position at the mine and they presented you with a remuneration package, did you not accept that offer knowing what your financial situation and needs were? You were not forced to work for Lonmin, were you?
If so, why would you only now cry foul? Furthermore, why did you not approach your beloved union to resolve the matter, isn’t that what you pay them for? Also, why R12500 and why now?
I am truly trying to understand your situation, but please see it from my perspective. Did all the protesting miners just wake up one morning and collectively think “Wait a minute”? It just seems as if someone, perhaps a public figure(s) or organization is driving your behavior.
The term of the month seems to be “Economic Freedom” but Mr. Miner, I am not sure you understand what an economy is and how it works but there is no need to worry, because you are not alone, many political figures and parties do not know how it works.
You see Mr. Miner, if you know you are earning R4k per month, why would you have 4 or 5 children? Surely you should be able to decide not to have any children if you are supporting all of them?
Please, I beg of you not to rely on the “but my boss, he earns millions” argument. As an Investment Manager with two degrees, I have a set of skills that you might not have and therefore I would expect to receive a more valuable remuneration package than let’s say a cashier who does not have Matric.
The fact is that the CEO of Lonmin and its shareholders have taken the risk of losing a large amount of money in order to open a mine which has in turn offered you work and pay, which without you might be in even deeper water. The rest of the executives also have particular sets of skills which are vital in creating a sustainable and lucrative business and they should be rewarded for their knowledge.
We can then also go into the price of platinum and the amount of platinum currently available, but then I tend to get too technical… However, I will try my best to keep it simple. Lonmin is running at a loss, there is more platinum in the world than is currently needed and that has caused the price of platinum to fall. Simply, there is no money anyways.
Now of course, you can say that you work really hard and I would agree to a certain extend. I say that because compared to how mining was done 20, 30 or 40 years ago, you actually have it easy. Most mining nowadays is done with high-tech machinery. The simple reason for this is because in a capitalist environment it eliminates a few human flaws, such as laziness, inconsistency and the big one, incompetence. So Mr. Miner, if machines are doing most of the work… Is it fair to say that maybe they too should get some of your pay? This might seem like a stupid thing to say, but then again, some of you want some of the CEO’s bonus?
The fact of the matter is that if you want the big bucks Mr. Miner, you need to be creative and start your own business.
Socialism has never worked and simply transferring wealth will simply not solve anything.
Let us dwell a little on the socialist side of some of the arguments I have heard. If you would allow me to create a scenario: We are both students in a class of two, you always do well and I always fail. You put in long hours and hard work, I only sit in class and sleep and I never study. I then complain that you are earning better marks than me and I then demand to receive the same marks. It is then decided that we will both receive the average mark gained and not individual marks. You see Mr. Miner, now I can sit back and pass because you are doing all the hard work and I am being rewarded. Your marks have fallen drastically and my marks have drastically improved, even though I continue to do none of the work. Regardless of how hard you work or how little I do, we receive the same marks. Doesn’t seem fair does it?
I have noticed that most people, who cannot manage R4k, also cannot manage R12.5. Mr. Miner, have you ever played poker? Let’s assume you have…
Every time you are dealt a hand, do you play the hand you were dealt or do you throw your cards on the table and demand to receive the same hand as the strongest hand of the round?
Also, do you demand to split the winnings equally after you have lost? Let us turn it around. Would you be fine with the idea of splitting the money equally between all players after you have won the pot fair and square?
You see, with good decision making and a little bit of luck, a losing hand can become a winning hand. Demanding to split the winnings because you made bad decisions that cost you the game just isn’t cricket.
Maybe you should stop demanding and start being quiet and I mean that in the sense of putting your head down and doing the job you agreed to do for the remuneration you agreed to do it for.
Let’s not stop there Mr. Miner and once again I would like to apologize for being so blunt.
Now you have gone and attacked the very people that are paid to protect you. My question is why did you use the muti? Were you perhaps planning on attacking the obviously armored police? If you did then it is your fault that 34 of your fellow miners were killed.
Yet now you cry foul! Did your friends not kill 10 innocent people prior to YOUR attack? You call yourself innocent and peaceful, but was it not you who first brought the pangas, was it not you who killed those 10 people, was it not you who fired the first shot, was it not you who ignored the warnings, was it not you got up on stage and threatened the lives of the mine’s management?
You say you are going to burn down the mine, do you really believe that this will help you?
Mr. Miner, you say you have children. My question is what are you teaching them?
That demanding, killing and threatening gives you everything? Would you be fine with it if your kids burnt down their school because they had to take an extra class? Or if they threatened to kill teachers who made them work hard?
Maybe you should take a good hard look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you would want your kids to grow up to be you.
By you I mean a person who has threatened and killed. A person who fails to accept responsibility for his/her own actions.
If your answer is yes than God help us all.
Mr. Miner, I hope that your lives can eventually return to normal and that you will make the best of what you have.
PS. My prayers go out to the friends and families of those who were killed. It was unfortunate.
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