NUM willing to sign pledge

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iol news pic Senzeni Zokwana INLSA The NUM president Senzeni Zokwana arrived in Rustenburg to deliver a political lecture on problems facing the mining industry in the North West. File photo: Dumisani Sibeko

Rustenburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Friday said it is willing to sign a pledge with parties affected by the Marikana violence to prevent its reoccurrence.

“I would not have qualms about that, because as a union we believe that the right to life is that which our Constitution promises everybody...,” union president Senzeni Zokwana told the Farlam commission of inquiry.

“...As a union we would accept any recommendation that the commission would come up with and if that includes us having to sign some pledge 1/8we will 3/8.”

Zokwana was asked under cross-examination if the union would sign a pledge to work with all parties in future to prevent such violence from reoccurring.

He said the NUM would be willing to sign anything proposed by the commission to prevent more violence.

Zokwana agreed this pledge and recommendations should encompass the behaviour and language used by union leaders.

“I would agree with that. Leadership is about being responsible. It can lead to war depending on the language (s/)he uses. A culture must exist in this country where it forges unity.”

Zokwana was testifying in the commission which is probing the deaths of 44 people during a strike at the North West mine.

Thirty-four strikers were shot dead and 78 wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group of protesters gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana on August 16 last year.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.

Zokwana also testified that the NUM did not block Marikana miners' wages.

“NUM would never be averse to where workers are given an offer. It may object to the forum used, but (would) not... (oppose) this offer,” he said.

Dali Mpofu, for those arrested and injured during the violent strike, said striking mineworkers believed NUM told Lonmin mine not to negotiate with them.

He said this was the reason why strikers went to NUM officers on August 11, and not, as Zokwana believed, to burn it down.

NUM shop stewards allegedly fired at a large group of strikers who marched towards the union's offices at the mine. Two strikers were injured and had to be hospitalised.

Mpofu admitted the group of strikers included NUM, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), and non-unionised members.

He put it to Zokwana that it was normal for members to go to the nearest union office to inquire, if they believed the NUM was standing in the way of wage increases.

“When you march it is when you don't reach satisfactory answers,” Zokwana said.

He said if this was the case, NUM members would have sent a smaller, unarmed delegation to get information.

“(It would have been reasonable) provided it was NUM members marching to the NUM office, minus the weapons.” - Sapa


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