Balfour residents march over jobs

2011-05-13 14:21

Balfour residents took the streets today, calling for Canadian mining company Burnstone to stop hiring “outsiders” and investigate claims of corruption in its recruitment division.

The march was organised by the Socialist Civic Movement and attracted about 3 000 people, claimed local resident and the organisation’s chair Dumisani Zwane.

“We demand that the mine give preference to locals in employment irrespective of age, disability and gender.

We demand that the mine stop the influx of people from outside places like Burgersfort in Limpopo, who are taking jobs that should be occupied by Dipaleseng residents,” said Zwane, who is also part of a stakeholders’ forum pushing for the area’s incorporation into Gauteng.

The gold mine is situated east of Balfour, in Mpumalanga.

In a memorandum handed to mine management this morning, residents call on the company to investigate allegations by locals that some human resources personnel are giving jobs for sex.

They also want the recruitment manager sacked, claiming he is “the main architect” behind the hiring of people from Limpopo.

“Those locals who were already hired by the mine earned lower wages than those from outside areas,” Zwane alleged.

Management said it would look into the issues raised, and indicated that 43% of the mine’s total staff were locals.

“The memorandum raised a number of issues which the mine will respond to using established community structures,” general-manager Vusi Khumalo said in a statement.

“The Burnstone mine remains committed to deliver on its social and labour plan of which amongst other things include the recruiting, training and development of local people.”

Khumalo said people needed relevant skills to work for the company.

Meanwhile, acting cooperative governance minister Nathi Mthethwa was visiting Balfour today to get feedback on service delivery problems.

Zwane questioned the timing of the visit.

“The timing of his visit raises suspicion. I think he got a memo that we would march today . . . or perhaps it’s just part electioneering.”

Zwane said the stakeholders’ forum had not been informed about the purpose of his visit, but he hoped Mthethwa would answer some of their questions.

“We have encouraged residents to go and attend and demand answers.”

President Jacob Zuma visited Balfour in August 2009 after residents protested over the state of their town by burning down a library, satellite police station and municipal offices.

A delegation, led by current Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane was sent to the township in September the same year.

However, some residents felt nothing had changed much since then. Youth employment, water supply and provision of housing were some of the issues they wanted addressed. 

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