This is very difficult to grasp. I honestly thought that South Africans had realised the crime of civilising Africa was not only to colonise, then exploit the mineral wealth of the continent, but to exploit the labour of it's inhabitants as well.
Africans work hard. There isn't a piece of land on this planet supporting so many people with so little resources. To extract a calorie of food requires water, labour and land. In South Africa, water is scarce, labour is plentiful and land has been systematically confiscated from the people who are now exploited for cheap labour!. Whoever told you that capital is the priority when producing food hasn't the first clue of natural reality. Close every bank, burn every dollar and animals, trees and plants will produce food. All that is needed is water, labour and land. Remove people from the land, deprive them of water, tell them that capital is required to produce food and you have committed the 'African Crime of the Aeon!'
'No industry that owes it's operational success to a policy that degrades and destroys it's workers as human beings has the right to continue.'
Have you not realised how quiet are the poor? Has it not occurred to you the majority of workers in the Rustenburg platinum belt live in a residential area with no asphalt roads, no sanitation, limited access to electricity and very few services? Have you ever wondered why? Or is it easier to believe these fellows live in such conditions because they are not educated? Perhaps they don't work hard enough? Maybe they simply gamble their money away or 'live beyond their means? There may be some of you who consider the failure to develop a cohesive town council, is the cause of the 'squalor?'
Let me add another dimension. Most of these workers are migrant – this makes them temporary. They hail from different areas in Southern Africa. They speak different languages, have different cultures. They each, as a group, do things a little differently. They are there because their land cannot produce sufficient food to feed them. They are there because western civilisation has replaced their cooperative wealth with western material poverty. They are there because, under the conditions you see, a significant portion of the money they earn is sent back to their families... And this is not a new phenomenon. It has been going on for over one hundred years!
'Nothing has changed!'
The cries of miners for wildcat strikes is not the radical fringe. It is an indicator of the lack of ethical management in South Africa. It is a principal deeply rooted in the past and built on the precept that the African is able to be duped so easily, to be shot with such impunity, indented as labour so readily, "bossed-up" so harshly and employed so cheaply! It is the belief that the African hasn't noticed this. Well he has. He has noticed! For a very long time! “Why has he done nothing about it then?” It is a feature of Ubuntu and the African spirit that ones' culture is respected – with silence. Don't forget, ours' is the proposal of western civilisation to Africa, not the other way around.
It is not the trappings of western gadgets the miner seeks with his wage demands. It is a request for a living wage! Their money is used in their far off homes (with no employment) and at the place where they work. Two working parents in a place of abundant employment is significantly easier by comparison. I haven't mentioned inflation or the lands' ability (with climate change and past social injustice) to supplement their survival.
Efficiency? Working harder will simply reduce the beneficiaries in the wage queue. But management salaries will continue to balloon – in line with market related rates! Why would a miner in Europe be prepared to accept the wage rate of an African miner? Shareholders will continue to enjoy substantial returns.
The demand for nationalisation is compelling because investment flees with the realisation of an iniquity long in the memory of a miner. It is an iniquity a miner can do nothing about, an investor is capable but reluctant and a nation very capable indeed. If nationalisaation creates poverty, it isn't much worse than the conditions currently in place.
While we have sat idle, pronouncing our indifference with past prejudice and fuelling iniquitous labour representation (Unions) with charges of corruption and the assumption 'this always happens in Africa,' our fellows are struggling! Their families are starving. We have done nothing but live off the fat of the land. We've justified our inactivity (as holders of the majority of capital in South Africa) with a prejudice borne from the reality of a cheap labour economy. We've incorrectly presumption 'that hard work and education enriches,' without factoring opportunity and privilege.
The solution lies in listening to the group that counts the most dead. The group that receives the pittance in wages and performs the lions share of the labour. The group with the smallest media mouthpiece and no official representation. The group to demand change is the union, officially mandated to represent them (NUM), the enterprise profiting from the enterprise (Lonmin, Anglo America et al.) and transparently manipulate the workers' union representatives and a government elected to represent all interests with leadership – and isn't (ANC).
Help these miners now, because they hold in their hands the morality of patience and right. The future of your wealth and prosperity. By comparison, they are not asking for much.
Or play the game of enterprise and take another chance. Call the workers' bluff and see if they can 'pull this one off.' If you're prepared to do this, then do two things. Firstly, consider 'the sooner one acts, the smaller the concession.' The second: Would you be prepared, if a miner, to live under the conditions I have described?
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