Johannesburg - The ANC wants security cluster ministers to stop “sitting idle” and act “decisively” to stop the spate of killings and intimidation of non-striking workers on the platinum mines.
The ANC also cautioned newly appointed Minerals and Energy Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi to tread carefully in his efforts to broker a deal to end the crippling strike.
“The security cluster can’t be sitting idle when people are killed every day. The security cluster was reminded they have a duty to provide security to the citizens when there are strikes or protests,” warned ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
He was addressing journalists in Joburg, following the ANC’s national executive committee meeting and its lekgotla in Pretoria.
“In the platinum sector, five workers were killed since the strike (started in January). The state can’t be sitting idle because what is today known as the Marikana (massacre) debacle started with 10 people being killed.”
Mantashe’s statements on Sunday painted a grim picture of a frustrated governing party at its wits’ end in dealing with the five months-long strike.
Ramatlhodi has hinted he could pull out of negotiations if no agreement was reached by Mondfy.
Mantashe stopped short of saying the ANC would back Ramatlhodi if he decided to withdraw. “We said don’t get involved in a workplace dispute.”
He explained that the ANC lekgotla had warned Ramatlhodi that the strike and the impasse in talks were a result of foreigners intent on destabilising the economy.
He said they were working with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
“We can’t have foreigners coming here to destabilise the economy.”
He also questioned the role of some political parties, notably the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Cope, in the negotiations.
He said this indicated it had now degenerated into a political strike, involving EFF member Dali Mpofu.
Asked later to elaborate, Mantashe said: “Dali Mpofu was in the negotiations yesterday (Saturday). Once you have politicians in the strike, then deal with it as a political strike.”
He said it was not customary for ministers to intervene in wage talks.
“When we had the Northam (Platinum) strike, no ministers were (involved) there. What if (negotiations) collapse? He might be blamed. It’s unprecedented…” said Mantashe.
He said the ANC was gravely concerned at the strike’s effect on the economy.
“There hasn’t been production for five months. You must know the impact will be serious. Gold is no longer the leading economy.”
Amcu strikers have demanded a basic monthly salary of R12 500.
Their employers have offered gradual increases spread over a period of three years. Amcu has rejected this.
Mantashe said the government remained committed in its efforts to end a strike in which “workers have been starving”.