Union turns on Ramphele

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Copy of ramphele INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Activist turned businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele File photo: Sharon Seretlo

Cape Town - Mamphela Ramphele, who is rumoured to be launching a new political party next week, is already coming under attack from unions, being called “dishonest” and the “self-appointed adviser of capital”.

Ramphele is expected to launch her political party on Tuesday, two days before President Jacob Zuma opens Parliament and delivers his State of the Nation address.

Last month, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe labelled Ramphele a biased academic, accusing her of opposition politicking.

Following Ramphele’s address this week at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, where she spoke of the restructuring process in the mining industry, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was “appalled” by the contradictions in her presentation.

She said workers and their representatives needed to take a longer-term view, beyond annual wage increases.

“Defending existing jobs may ultimately be to the detriment of sustaining the industry with new types of jobs yet to be experimented with,” Ramphele told the indaba.

NUM said Gold Fields, of which she is chairwoman, had refused to enter into any agreement to avert possible job losses as a result of its unbundling, and at the same time did not want to commit to retaining current conditions of service.

“Workers are marching to Gold Fields tomorrow to demand what is rightfully theirs,” said NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka. He said when Anglo Platinum announced its decision to retrench 14 000 workers, “it spoke of the creation of (an) equivalent but unsustainable number of jobs building houses”.

Ramphele’s suggestion that defending existing jobs might be an obstacle to “new types of jobs” was an attempt to justify the Anglo Platinum proposal.

NUM was acutely aware that she was referring to short-term contractual jobs in building, and workers would be worse off.

Meanwhile, some opposition parties have welcomed reports that she will be launching her own political party.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa said Ramphele would bring “credibility to the country’s body politic”.

DA leader Helen Zille, who tried to get Ramphele to join her party last year, would not be drawn into commenting, saying she would rather talk to Ramphele herself.

“Let’s first see what happens. Then I will comment. Up to now everything is speculative.

“I would like to hear what Dr Ramphele herself says. I’ll be patient and wait,” said Zille.

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