ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Adrian de Kock.

Johannesburg -

The ANC leadership has questioned whether the strike in the North West platinum belt is a political one, its secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.

“Of concern was whether this was a collective bargaining strike or a political strike,” he told reporters at Luthuli House following the party's national executive committee meeting this week.

“This question arose having noted... disturbing developments.”

Some of the developments included the Economic Freedom Fighters' alleged involvement in negotiations, and the articulation of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union's position, apparently by white foreign nationals.

“These two factors led the lekgotla into cautioning the ministry of mineral resources in handling the facilitation with care,” said Mantashe.

“There were questions about the role of the state in workplace disputes where there are clear rules guiding it.”

Amcu members at Lonmin, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum downed tools on January 23 demanding a basic monthly salary of R12 500.

They have so far rejected the companies' offer that would bring their cash remuneration to R12 500 by July 2017.

Last week, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi set up a task team to help resolve the wage dispute.

On Saturday, he said he would pull out of the negotiation process if no agreement was reached by Monday.

Mantashe explained that the government intervened because people were being killed and it did not want a repeat of the 2012 Marikana tragedy.

On August 16, 2012, 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead by police who were trying to disarm and disperse them. Another ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed during the preceding week.

Mantashe said in the past few weeks, five people were killed in the platinum belt.

“The State cannot be idle when workers are being killed...We should not allow that development as it would lead to another disaster,” he said.

“The government was nudged to deal with the situation more decisively if the economic decline is to be arrested.”

Mantashe said the strike needed to come to an end to address the 0.6 percent negative growth for the first quarter of 2014.

“All the other interventions will not be taken serious if the state cannot deal with a strike that is not only putting pressure on the employer but starving workers to death,” he said.

“The employers must be forced to do what they committed themselves to do. The provision of decent accommodation is a commitment in the mining charter. Decent not ideological but important ones (commitments).” - Sapa