I feel obliged first to extend a note of gratitude towards Mr. Julius Malema, for his most vocal validation of the content of my previous post, titled “Three reasons South Africa will fail”.
On 30 August ’12, in his customary laboriously impeded vocal raconteuring, he told a chanting mob at the Aurora mine in Grootvlei, black South Africans were better off under Apartheid – thanks for the support Juju..!
One of the greatest enigmas of the ‘Marikana Matter’ is not the numinous appearance of a rabbit or the whereabouts of the ‘magic-muti-man’ (mostly to answer certain consumer related queries), but what the platinum Rock Drill Operators [RDO] actually earn.
While “R12,500 per month” has become a vocal chant, in the run-up to his (apparently immanent) arrest, the unemployed professional political trailblazer has provided little context (as usual – many would say). Fresh from a first-class trip to London, working from his “HQ” in one of the most opulent suburbs in South Africa – Sandton, Juju descended upon the impressionable- and likely well inebriated miners of Marikana, with his characteristic rhetoric of incitement and insidious racial hatred.
He did not share with the RDO’s the tales of his recent frolic in the “land of the evil imperialist” (notably the birthplace of “...you bloody agent...”), likely at a cost of around THREE times more than an ANNUAL salary of R12,500 per month; nor did he invite his new-found ‘Struggle-comrades’ for some serious sushi slurping, from the bellies of scantily clad blondes, at the said HQ; or such.
No, he did none of the above – rather, Mr Malema shimmied in, delivered to site in a top-end Range Rover, sporting tailor-cut attire and jewellery worth more than most of the drillers’ entire annual wages, telling them that they are being exploited by the rich “BOERS”... Not that I have even the faintest clue, how ‘farmers’ came upon wealth through Lonmin’s mining operations, or more precisely how farmers were instantly appointed to Lonmin’s senior executive – yet nonetheless, the mob that had gathered, found such verbal incongruities as satisfying as the muti that makes “bullets bounce off you”...
It is the same mob described above that certain members of the international press, 'employed' (no pun intended) as an absolute definite source of data, for international reporting purposes. Apparently in the days around 16 August 2012, one of the international journalists shouted a question at one of the (likely well-‘muti-ed’) drillers, asking him (one has to assume) what he earns – he ostensibly yelled back R4,000 (or perhaps R4,500 – it is not clear). After a quick reference to the exchange rate (one that has subsequently fallen even further as a stark consequence) and a salary figure of less than ‘U$500 per month’ (or similar figures) went viral.
A picture of economically disenfranchised workers, having to support entire families on (around) US$16 per day, was eloquently crafted to amuse their global audiences (who simply “ate” it up) – while ‘fat-cat’ capitalist bosses grin in gleeful vivacity over their huge piles of profits. The truth, naturally, could not be further from this blatant lie.
Some perspective on the figure of US$480 – US$500 per month:
The USA government's definition of poverty is based on total income received – the poverty level for 2012 was set at $23,050, total yearly income for a family of four. Some quick maths (sorry to have to lose you here Juju) = 500 x 12 = US$ 6,000. Understandably the average person in the USA (and alike) would have been absolutely shocked – these poor deprived soles have to live on- and support families, with (around) 1/4 of what is regarded as the poverty line (in the USA and alike). As said before – nothing could be further from the truth.
Even a rudimentary investigation, for those who want the full “picture” (as opposed to the attention-seeker like Greg Marinovich), would lead you to some rather inconvenient verities – to name only a few:
- The mining companies are reluctant to spend their dwindling profits on large-scale residential investments. Notably as such investments suffer under accelerated depreciation- and spiralling maintenance costs due to wholesale damage during occupancy.
- The rock-drillers (almost exclusively men – e.g. a conventional rock-drill weighs around 25kg) spend considerable portions of their incomes on alcohol, drugs and sex (often on the job – again, excuse the unintended pun). Their financial acumen is almost non-existent (the inconvenient fact is – they are all basically illiterate) and local ‘loan-sharks’ thrive.
- The migrant-worker is still very much a reality, in South Africa – today, as it was under Apartheid. Under Apartheid large numbers of people came from other African countries to South Africa – as S.A. basically had the only functioning economy (prior to 1994). Today many people are economic refugees fleeing from provinces where the ANC has destroyed the local economy – e.g. the Eastern Cape. Such workers are compelled to send large portions of their income “home” each month.
They are effectively single, with significantly reduced incomes and a lack of social cohesion – a recipe for a “massacre”...
The list goes on.
By now you must be asking – and what is the ‘lie’..? The lie is twofold:
1. THEY DO NOT EARN R4500 PER MONTH.
On 22 August 2012, Chamber of Mines of South Africa VP Mark Cutifani, flanked by CEO, Bheki Sibiya, confirmed that the South African mining industry was the payer of the highest wages in South Africa’s labour-intensive sector and RDO’s did not earn the widely publicized R4,000 a month, but rather between R10,000 and R12,000 per month. It has further transpired that some of the drillers earn up to R 16,500 per month.
2. THEY ARE NOT POOR.
Last week StatsSA published a report – “Labour Market Dynamics” [LMD] stating that the median worker in South Africa earns R3,000 a month.
The RDO’s therefore earn around FOUR times that of the median. In fact they are likely in the top 20% of earners in South Africa – so to be accurate, the RDO’s are among South Africa’s wealthy. Indeed, above R15,000 per month they would be in the top 10% of earners – up there with Juju and the chartered sushi surlpers...
Take into consideration that the drillers are almost exclusively illiterate and if not for the mining industry – notably the inconvenient reality that the much of the evolution- and advancements that afford them the abovementioned came from those they ‘love to hate’ – they would have had nothing, like so many others in Africa.
As such, in many developing countries (as South Africa is) teachers earn less than the Marikana drillers – i.o.w. people with a tertiary education. In a recent article in Business Day, economist Mike Schussler (commenting on the same topic as covered here) noted that Greek teachers now earn less than 800 Euros per month – i.e. < R 8,500 per month. He noted further that in Lesotho manufacturing wages are about $127 a month – i.e. < R1,100 per month and in India, hi-tech manufacturing workers earn about R6,000 a month, being among the highest paying jobs in that country.
It is therefore not surprising that one of the greatest South Africans alive – Patrice Motsepe (executive chairperson of African Rainbow Minerals) – stated on Monday, September 3, 2012 that employers had to “draw the line” and set a limit on unreasonable pay demands. He stated while typical minerals/mining companies had a broad obligation to all of its stakeholders, of which labour was a component, it also had an obligation to remain globally competitive.
His words: “...There are times when you’ve got to look your workforce in the eye and say, we cannot pay you what you want...”
The inconvenient truth is: as with Marikana much of the (supposed) “Struggle” was simply a lie.
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