Johannesburg - Susan Shabangu, the Mineral Resources
Minister, said the country's mining companies were "caught napping"
by the series of strikes in the platinum sector, and has promised to apply the
terms of the updated mining charter with greater force.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Shabangu
criticised mining companies for failing to anticipate a "complete
twist" in labour relations. She added the mining charter had been treated
like a "gentleman's agreement".
She also believed the industrial action, which resulted in
Anglo Platinum (Amplats) yesterday suspending production at five of its six
shafts in the Rustenburg region, was becoming a trend.
“We had already noticed that we need to be tough when we
decided to review the (mining) act but, with Marikana, it’s like justifying the
reason to be tougher,” Shabangu told the Financial Times.
“We are going to regulate it (the mining charter) now. We
were avoiding that because we thought we were dealing with adults, mature
people who understand. We will make it to be enforced, and if not, serious
penalties must happen,” she said.
Government's voice has largely been muted throughout the
strike action which has its roots in a six-week strike in March when the
Associated Mineworkers & Construction Union (Amcu) led a violent strike at
However, Shabangu told the newspaper that government was
taking action in association with the mining industry.
“We are engaging with them (the miners) through the
Department of Labour, but the biggest challenge is to be able to say what are
the other issues,” she said.
Shabangu added: "This is a country which has a history
of mining and it’s not a good history because it’s a history of mining which
“And that history has to be changed. Any individual who
wants to come into this space and invest has to come with a different mindset.”
Tensions in the industry have also been stoked further by
expelled ANC youth league leader Julius Malema who has vowed to make mines
But Shabangu dismissed Malema as a “rabble-rouser” and
reiterated the government’s stance on nationalisation, saying it was "no
longer a factor" for the ANC.
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