The ANC government is in trouble. After failing to resolve the five-month strike in the platinum belt, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe resorted to accusing foreign white nationals on Sunday for destabilising the economy.
Without mentioning names, Mantashe said foreigners who were advising the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) in the wage negotiations were fuelling the unrest in the platinum belt. Mantashe is a former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers that was unseated by Amcu in the platinum belt as the majority union at major platinum houses. His comments are worrying as they abdicate any responsibility by the ruling party.
After 20 years, the majority of people in Marikana still live in squalor.
Peter Attard Montalto, a researcher at Nomura, noted yesterday that Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi brought little to the talks to end the strike.
Ramatlhodi’s offer of housing in the talks would not solve the problem because the Marikana municipality had underspent its housing budget by about two-thirds. So the issue isn’t money.
Liv Shange, a Swedish national and deputy general secretary of the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp) – one of Mantashe’s targets – told the media yesterday that Mantashe’s comments about foreign nationals were both dehumanising and outrageous.
“It is outrageous that we are having a debate about a third force, or that white foreigners are destabilising the economy,” Shange said. “The accusations are worrying and reckless. What happens if people on the streets believe it is true?”
Shange insisted that Wasp had no formal relationship with Amcu, neither had it advised the union in the wage talks.
Mantashe’s comments exposed class discrimination by the ruling ANC, which had no problem with foreign-owned mining companies, Shange said. She is waiting for the outcome of her application for a permanent residency permit.
Transformation remains a critical factor in shaping the local economy in a positive direction. What is also critical, under the current economic environment, is to create opportunities where people can upskill and uplift themselves.
Sbu Gule, the newly appointed chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright, believes in expanding the cake. He is right, as a result of apartheid, opportunities were limited for black people to experience satisfactory levels of economic growth.
The proof is in the pudding with the platinum strike that has suffocated the country’s economic growth prospects. The platinum war, where workers are demanding a R12 500 basic salary for entry-level workers, is a case in point that the wrongs of the past need to be corrected. If they are not, then there will be dire consequences for the socio-economic landscape.
“The majority of the people continue to be relegated to poverty where they cannot escape,” Gule said.
That is the sad reality for the millions of indebted South Africans trying to make ends meet.
“If nothing is done to change the way we think, more people will continue to be disgruntled as the limited resources for economic prosperity continue to shrink. If nobody stands up to take charge and lead the country away from the brink of recession, then Marikana will look like a Sunday school picnic,” Gule added.
There needs to be a fundamental shift in the mindset of people in order to achieve satisfactory levels of economic transformation, and the main concern raised by Gule is that we have not moved that far to change the mindset of South Africans.
“Most perceptions among each other have not changed. We still view each other in the same way as we did prior to 1994,” he said. page 20
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Dineo Faku and Ayanda Mdluli.