Banele Ginindza

The retention of Mildred Oliphant as labour minister has had analysts agog, especially amid the protracted strike in the platinum mining sector.

“She oversaw the biggest industrial crisis since 1922, there were so many options she could have utilised to end the strike but she was totally out of her depth,” Loane Sharp, an analyst at Adcorp, said.

Sharp said with all political intervention having failed to end the deadlock on the platinum belt, it was now the opportunity for legal activism where labour disputes are settled by the courts.

“We need the courts to intervene and we need businesses that will have the courage to take these matters to court.”

On Oliphant’s desk today will be a continuation of the strike into a fifth month after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) rejected the companies’ latest offer to bring minimum cash remuneration to R12 500 a month by July 2017.

The crossfire continued even as President Jacob Zuma announced the cabinet yesterday, with platinum employers contradicting reports of a settlement.

“Contrary to some media reports, no agreement has yet been reached,” Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin said on Friday.

The companies confirmed that the Labour Court continued to broker mediation between themselves and Amcu.

“The producers reaffirm their commitment to finding acommon commitment to endeavour to resolve this dispute. We are still in discussions and we are continuing over the weekend,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa told reporters at the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Saturday.

He declined to say whether the parties were closer to an agreement. – Additional reporting by Sapa