Johannesburg - Efforts to broker peace in in the country’s troubled platinum belt took a knock yesterday when newly appointed Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi attacked mining union Amcu, accusing it of being part of a plot to “destroy the revolution”.
Ramatlhodi was speaking to delegates at the rival NUM’s central committee meeting outside Joburg.
Amcu was founded as a breakaway from the ANC-aligned National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
It is now the majority union in the platinum mining sector.
Last week, it ended a five-month strike .
Amcu has often complained that the state’s interventions in the mining sector are calculated to undermine it and shore up NUM.
NUM lost 20 000 members in the past year alone, since Amcu’s emergence, according to figures released at the meeting.
If Amcu had thought the new minister would try to extend an olive branch after the protracted strike, it would have been disappointed with yesterday’s speech.
Ramatlhodi told delegates the so-called onslaught against NUM should be expected as part of bigger efforts to derail change in South Africa.
“You should not be surprised when the knife is struck deep in the heart of NUM,” he said.
Less than a week ago, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe accused the union of being a tool of “white foreigners” bent on destabilising the country and destroying the ruling party.
His deputy Jessie Duarte repeated the same sentiments on Wednesday, and added Julius Malema’s EFF party into the accusation.
Completing the “counter-revolution” trifecta is rebel Cosatu union Numsa, which also took a battering at the NUM gathering.
While Ramatlhodi was careful not to mention Numsa by name, he and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande made many veiled references.
“The offensive against NUM is part of a bigger agenda to drive a wedge between Cosatu and the ANC. This offensive is now being waged together with sections within Cosatu,” Nzimande told delegates.
Ramatlhodi echoed this, telling the meeting that the alliance could “only be destroyed (from) within and not from outside”.
Numsa, which is South Africa’s largest union, is facing expulsion from Cosatu for not supporting the ANC in the May elections and for “poaching” members from the federation’s other affiliates, including NUM.
It has accused the ruling party of supporting anti-worker policies such as the youth wage subsidy, e-tolls, and refusing to ban labour broking.
The union has seen an increase in its numbers over recent months, while NUM membership declines.
Delegates at the meeting, which ends today, have been clear that they want to push for action to be taken against Numsa. - The Star