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Cape Town - The Presidency is going to be more hands in the mining sector for the next five years, President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation address on Tuesday.
He said the framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry, which was headed by former deputy president Kgalema Molanthe, would now fall under the leadership of the Presidency.
“We will implement the undertaking to build housing and other services to revitalize mining towns, as part of the October 2012 agreement between business, government and labour,” he said.
Government has been under pressure to help end a strike in the mining industry which has lasted over five months. The industry, which is the biggest contributor to the country’s GDP and exports, has suffered from the longest strike in South Africa’s history.
Zuma’s announcement is aimed at allaying fears and building confidence that the government is in control of the situation.
Later this year, partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council will meet discuss the country’s labour laws and often violent strikes.
One of the options to be discussed is forcing parties to go into arbitration if a strike lasts for a certain amount of days.
Zuma told MPs and guests that there would be a focus on building mining areas to help boost the industry. They are Motlosana, Emalahleni, Sekhukhune, Lephalale, West Rand and Matjhabeng.
Also, to further promote improved living conditions for mineworkers, government was monitoring the compliance of mining companies with Mining Charter targets, relating to improving the living conditions of workers.
“Companies are expected to convert or upgrade hostels into family units, attain the occupancy rate of one person per room and also facilitate home ownership options for mine workers. We urge the companies to meet the 2014 deadline for these targets and extend this right to dignity to mine workers,” he said.