Bishop Jo Seoka supports EFF in platinum strike

2014-06-09 11:39

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) got involved in the platinum belt strike to help miners arrested after the Marikana shooting, Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka has said.

“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 SAfm today.

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

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

“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.”

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 said.

“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 January 23 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.

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 today.

In May, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa said more than 5 000 people had been arrested in the platinum belt in the past year for violence in the Marikana area, near Rustenburg in North West.

Mpofu is involved in the Marikana 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 mine workers, on August 16 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 May 6, a day before the general elections, EFF leader Julius Malema told mine workers 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,” said Malema at the time.

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