Thebe Maswabi, who recently emerged as the branch chairman of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Anglo American Platinum, is a kingmaker who has lost faith in his protégés and perhaps a useful barometer of the temperament of mine workers.
Operating as a pacifist by late 2012, even after the Marikana events, Maswabi was aligned to neither the Amcu nor the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) but to a workers’ committee, a group of workers who did not have faith in the formal unions.
Last February, Maswabi was prominent in a clash between the workers’ committee and NUM over the union’s legitimacy and use of company property.
Fast forward to October last year and Maswabi was an Amcu branch chairman at Angloplat and in the thick of a strike demanding a R12 500 minimum monthly salary.
Now he has become Amcu’s strongest critic and is hustling for a new union that will chart the true aspirations of workers.
“We left NUM because of dictatorship. We joined Amcu and hoped that things would be better, however Amcu’s leadership has done nothing for us. They clearly do not want anything to do with us… Amcu promised us so many things and yet they could not deliver and when some of us were dismissed by our employers, they did nothing.” – Staff Reporter