Bishop defends EFF's strike involvement

2014-06-09 11:19
Striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana (File, AFP)

Striking Lonmin mineworkers in Marikana (File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - The EFF got involved in the North West platinum belt strike to help miners arrested after the Marikana shooting, Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka told SAfm on Monday.

"Advocate [Dali] Mpofu is not sitting there [at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry] as the EFF, he is sitting there... as a professional person representing the workers who were arrested and has been asked by the workers to participate in this process," Seoka told the broadcaster.

He was reacting to comments by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe that the strike was becoming political because of the Economic Freedom Fighters' alleged involvement in negotiations, and its alleged collusion with foreigners.

On Sunday, Mantashe said the ANC was concerned by the articulation of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's (Amcu) position by white foreigners.

"The articulation of Amcu's position by white foreign nationals is signalling interest of the foreign forces in the destabilisation of our economy," he said at the time.

"Also of concern is the direct participation of the EFF in the negotiations, and thus collaboration with the foreign forces... These two factors led the [ANC] lekgotla into cautioning the ministry of mineral resources in handling the facilitation with care."

Reaching a solution

Seoka, who has called for high-level intervention in the Rustenburg mining crisis, said Mantashe's comments were "very unfortunate".

"...Hopefully it would be corrected some time during the day," he told the broadcaster.

"I think the issue is really very critical because we are almost reaching a solution... The minister [of mineral resources] has done his best... The parties are talking to each other... There is light at the end of the tunnel."

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum, and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on 23 January demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

They have so far rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017.

Negotiation process may fail

Last week, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up a task team to help resolve the wage dispute.

On Saturday, he said he could pull out of the negotiation process if no agreement was reached by Monday.

In May, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa said more than 5000 people had been arrested in the platinum belt in the past year for violence in the Marikana area, near Rustenburg in the North West.

Mpofu is involved in the Farlam Commission of Inquiry and represents the families of miners killed in a clash with police in Marikana in 2012. At the inquiry, Mpofu is also representing miners who were arrested and wounded.

Seoka has also testified before the commission about how a delegation of miners had asked him to ask Lonmin management to address them shortly before the shooting happened.

Police shot dead 34 people, almost all of them striking mineworkers, on 16 August 2012, while trying to disperse and disarm them.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

On 6 May, a day before the general elections, EFF leader Julius Malema told mineworkers in the platinum belt to intensify their strike.

"The strike must continue. We support Amcu in the fight for a better wage. It is the only union crippling the capitalists," Malema said at the time.
- SAPA

Read more on:    lonmin  |  amcu  |  anc  |  eff  |  dali mpofu  |  gwede mantashe  |  mahikeng  |  strikes  |  mining unrest
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