Northam – Protracted strikes destroy the country’s economy, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Friday.
“Protracted strikes destroy the economy; when there is a strike the economy gets hurt, workers get hurt. Let us all be responsible… If we can reach an agreement in two weeks, let it be so. Strikes should not drag on for five months,” he said at the handing over of community projects sponsored by the Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) at Sefikile near Northam in North West.
On January 23, 2014, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) launched a five-month strike in Rustenburg platinum mines. The strike affected Lonmin, Amplats, and Impala Platinum.
The union demanded that the minimum wage be increased from R5000 to R12,500 a month. The strike ended when workers agreed to an increase of R1000 in June 2014.
On Friday, Zwane called for greater co-ordination between mining companies and government at national and local level.
“It is extremely important for industry to serve the needs of communities where it operates, as well as those from which it sources labour,” he said.
“With greater collaboration we will be able to achieve even greater things for our communities so that we can indeed realise the objectives of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) – that the people derive sustainable benefit from the minerals beneath the soil.”
Anglo American Platinum officially handed over several social and labour plan (SLP) projects completed by the company’s Union Mine, a joint venture with the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela traditional authority.
The projects included the construction of a community centre, a primary healthcare clinic, renovation of school facilities, and multiple agricultural and infrastructure initiatives.
Anglo American Platinum CEO Chris Griffith said the company spent R160 million over the past four years on community project as part of its social and labour plan.
“Even in these difficult times in the platinum industry we continued to work with government, traditional leaders, communities, and all other stakeholders to bring projects,” he said.
The Sefikile community centre, built at a cost of R24.4 million, consists of sport recreation facilities, a paypoint for pensioners, business facilities, a computer centre, and facilities for youth cultural activities.
The centre can also used to bring government departments, such as home affairs, closer to the people.
Amplats spent R13.8 million on building the Sefikile Clinic. The clinic, which will operate on a 24-hour basis, will provide primary healthcare to about 15 000 people from Sefikile and surrounding villages, including Atemelang, Diphale, Mononono, Mantserre, Moopyane, and Kraalhoek.
The company also renovated the Mochudi secondary, Kgabutle secondary, Phadi primary, and Mokgalwana primary schools.
These schools were in a dilapidated state and have been renovated to improve the quality of learning.
A newly constructed school – Sebele Primary School – was also handed over to the North West education department, as well as science laboratories for two local schools.
Moses Kotane local municipality mayor Fetsang Mokati called on residents not to burn the newly-built facilities during service delivery protests.
“I do not want to be called that people in Sefikile have burnt a hall and clinic because there is no water. If there are problems, let us talk and resolve the problem. I am available 24/7,” she said.