The Economic Freedom Fighters party is unapologetic about its support of the mineworkers' demand for a R12 500 minimum wage, spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Sunday.
“This support is a political support and that is why the EFF has pronounced on it in its elections manifesto that R12 500 must be a minimum wage in the entire mining sector,” he said in a statement.
Ndlozi was reacting to African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe questioning whether the strike in the North West platinum belt was a political one.
“Of concern was whether this was a collective bargaining strike or a political strike,” Mantashe told reporters at Luthuli House following the party's national executive committee meeting this week.
“This question arose having noted... disturbing developments.”
Some of the developments included the Economic Freedom Fighters' alleged involvement in negotiations, and the articulation of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's (Amcu) position, apparently by white foreign nationals.
“These two factors led the lekgotla into cautioning the ministry of mineral resources in handling the facilitation with care,” said Mantashe.
“There were questions about the role of the state in workplace disputes where there are clear rules guiding it.”
However, Ndlozi said the ANC was shifting the blame for their failure to resolve the ongoing platinum strike to the EFF.
“The ANC's insinuation that this is not a political strike, but a collective bargaining strike is a desperate attempt to delegitimise and downplay workers' legitimate demands and their efforts to secure their livelihood,” he said.
“The demand for a minimum wage is political and that is evidenced by the slaughter of 34 mineworkers in defence of capitalist interests by the ANC government two years ago.”
Ndlozi said workers must remain resolute knowing that EFF was behind them.
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.
Mantashe explained that the government intervened because people were being killed and it did not want a repeat of the 2012 Marikana tragedy.
On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead by police who were trying to disarm and disperse them. Another 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.
“The state cannot be idle when workers are being killed... We should not allow that development as it would lead to another disaster,” he said.
Mantashe said the strike needed to come to an end to address the 0.6 percent negative growth for the first quarter of 2014. - Sapa