eMalahleni - United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa on Thursday reiterated his party's support for the ongoing strike in the platinum mining sector, led by trade union Amcu.

“UDM supports Amcu on its demands. We hope you will be united and not give in to the traitors,” Holomisa told a Workers' Day rally organised by the National Council of Trade Unions at the Pumas Rugby Stadium in eMalahleni.

He said the African National Congress was being opportunistic. Their leaders were nowhere to be seen when workers were killed in the strike at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, North West, in 2012.

“They were nowhere to be found when people were killed in Marikana, but now they are campaigning there. We don't have a leader here, but an opportunist,” he said.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead and 78 people were wounded when police fired on a group gathered at a hill near Lonmin's Marikana mine, allegedly while trying to disarm and disperse them. In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the strike-related violence.

Platinum miners affiliated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have been on strike for more than three months, demanding a basic salary of R12 500 per month.

According to economist Mike Schussler, about 70 000 people are on strike, the longest in the private sector in South African history since the 1987 miners' strike.

Last weekend, Holomisa told supporters at a meeting in Freedom Park, Pretoria, that strikers should not surrender.

“You should not raise the white flag,” he said at the time.

During Thursday's speech, Holomisa called on the state to do more to protect jobs.

“We need to invest in our economy. We need to fight for them (the jobless) to get employment,” he said. - Sapa