As the platinum strike rages on, plunging families deeper into poverty and the economy to the brink of recession, NGOs, political parties, churches and economists have thrown their weight behind the mineworkers.
Mineworkers who are members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) are demanding a R12 500 a month basic salary for entry-level workers.
An organisation that has made mileage out of what has been dubbed the mining revolution by Amcu is the Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC), which argues the mining companies can afford the workers’ demands.
The organisation has made headlines, saying Amcu’s R12 500 wage demand could have already been met if producers had not sold metals at below market price.
According to information in the NGO’s brochure, the AIDC was formed in 1996 and works closely with popular movements “for fundamental transformation” of South African society based on “principles of economic, environmental and social justice”.
The Farlam Commission of Inquiry has asked the AIDC to investigate the financial position of Lonmin before the 2012 Marikana massacre, in which 34 striking mineworkers were killed by police gunshots. The wildcat strike claimed 10 other lives in the previous week.
The AIDC’s position highlights the “neoliberal” model as a deep-rooted cause of the crisis of “over-productivist, endless growth financial speculative model, which puts humanity and the planet at great risk”.
Other players include Liv Shange from the Workers and Socialist Party, which has been vocal in condemning what it calls the “strike-breaking offensive launched by Lonmin” when the platinum producers engaged workers directly through an SMS campaign in an attempt to get them back to work.
Shange was flung into the spotlight after being denied entry into South Africa last year due to an administrative problem with her visa application.
Others, including Bishop Jo Seoka and the Bench Marks Foundation, were early supporters of the strikers. The church plays a major role, bringing a socio-religious aspect to the platinum war.
The churches have appealed for empathy for the families of the striking workers, who are unfortunate casualties in Amcu’s attempted mining revolution. Human beings are suffering – many of whom are totally innocent, says the Apostolic Faith Mission, which says it has 1.4 million members in South Africa.
As the strike continues, things will get worse before they get better, with the church saying the situation is a tragedy and innocent people are losing their homes and vehicles for reasons beyond their control.
The church says: “One realises that banks and other financial institutions are profit-driven and that sentiments and consideration of human suffering are mostly not part of their policies.”