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The National Union of Mineworkers appealed to its members on Tuesday to reject Julius Malema’s “hogwash” and return to work.
“Thousands of miners stand to lose their jobs due to irresponsible comments by Malema and his ilk,” said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka.
Speaking to striking workers at Gold Fields’ Driefontein mine outside Carletonville on Tuesday, Malema, the expelled former leader of the ANC Youth League, called on all workers to strike.
“There must be a national strike at all the mines until Frans Baleni and the NUM leadership step down with immediate effect,” Malema told the workers. Baleni is the union’s secretary-general.
The union said Malema’s statement was “irresponsible”.
“His call on workers to embark on illegal strikes is totally irresponsible and childish,” it said. “We condemn his attack on NUM leadership and the behaviour of taking advantage of vulnerable people to score cheap political points.”
Seshoka said it was “fallacious” for Malema to claim that Baleni owned shares in the mining sector, or that he received money from mining houses.
“The claim that Baleni sits on boards of mining houses is untrue. We will investigate all these claims and take appropriate legal action.”
He said that the Driefontein mine employed about 15 000 people, and 80 percent of them belonged to the NUM. A group of 1 500 workers, all NUM members, took their grievances directly to the management on Monday. Among their demands was that the NUM leadership at their branch be replaced.
At the same time, the NUM’s regional leaders were at the mine trying to resolve the situation. They held meetings on Monday and Tuesday. – Sapa