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Withdrawal from mine talks ‘regrettable’

Johannesburg - The withdrawal of an inter-governmental task team from the platinum strike talks is regrettable, the SA Council of Churches said on Monday.

“In as much as we commend all the work that has been done to try and resolve this conflict, we the churches regret that no resolution has been reached so far,” acting secretary general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said in a statement.

Residents queue for food provided by Evelyn Mmekwa in Wonderkop informal settlement. Striking miners are struggling to put food on the table for their families as the strike enters its fourth month. Photo: Itumeleng English. Credit: INLSA

“We, however, commit our prayerful support to the ongoing process.”

On Monday, the platinum producers announced that an inter-governmental task team set up by Minerals and Energy Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi had been dissolved.

On Saturday, Ramatlhodi said he would pull out of the talks if no agreement was reached by Monday.

Anglo American Platinum Limited, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited, and Lonmin said they would look at other options to end the strike.

The religious organisation was offering “a physical presence” to the process in order to create a fresh, neutral space within which to try and build on the work done, Mpumlwana said.

“Since the minister's intervention has not yielded the envisioned results, we are offering our physical presence to the process for the sake of the starving families and the country's economy which is in distress.”

The Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI) said the five-month long strike could pose a threat to national security and the economy.

“If the strike in the platinum sector is not resolved soon, government has little option but to declare it as an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of South Africa,” the organisation said in a statement.

To resolve the impasse, local government should, with the assistance of Treasury, improve the living conditions of miners and provide decent housing, said AHI.

“Such an undertaking by government together with the latest mining companies’ wage offers provides a firm basis not only for miners to return to work, but for the raising of living standards so sorely needed.”

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union 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.

Sapa

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