The government, co-ordinated by Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, made the first concerted effort yesterday to intervene in the now 18-week platinum sector strike.

Ramatlhodi, who has hit the ground running, having met with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Tuesday and with employers yesterday, held several media interviews and capped his day with the announcement of an inter-ministerial task team to spearhead a new intervention.

He got a team together with members from the Departments of Mineral Resources and Labour, and the National Treasury, to meet representatives of Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum Holdings and Lonmin, as well as Amcu today.

According to the companies in a joint statement, “this team has been set up… in an effort to resolve the wage dispute and the 18-week strike on the platinum belt. This intervention will support the mediation process that is being facilitated by the Labour Court.”

To date, the producers have forfeited production revenue of almost R20 billion, while employees have lost earnings of almost R9bn.

Talks between employers and the union mediated by a Labour Court judge failed to result in an agreement, imperiling the second-largest economy on the continent.

“All parties are hurting,” Ramatlhodi said in a statement.

“We have no option but to find an amicable solution.”

The parties would “explore all possibilities for a resolution” and “report back by the end of the day on what is possible”, Ramatlhodi said.

If there ever was a time to be optimistic, perhaps it is now.

Mr Price

Mr Price Group sold 216.7 million units in the past financial period – mainly clothing items, followed by homeware and furniture.

But how many of these items are procured locally? Mr Price’s chief financial officer, Mark Blair, said about 35 percent of the retailer’s input was sourced from the Southern African Development Community region.

“We call it near sourcing… people have a perception that we import everything from the East, but that is not true,” he said.

Through the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry, Mr Price is a leading retailer in the local textile and leatherware clusters in South Africa.

The question of sourcing locally has been high on the list of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union, which has been hard at work making sure that this sector gets recognition from retailers.

Surely, Mr Price’s success in increasing its retail sales should trickle down to the clothing and textile sector, which has been trying to pick itself up for a long time now.

With the continued depreciation of the rand, one would think that local textile and clothing companies would benefit by getting more orders from retailers.

But they are not, because most of the textile companies do not have the fabrics required by retailers. This makes it difficult for local clothing manufacturers to get orders from retailers.

If they do get procurement from the retailers, they not only pay for the expensive fabric but they also have to pay an import tariff.

Last year, the country’s biggest retailer, Edcon, worked on consolidating suppliers and focusing on regional and local sources.

The retailer even hosted a clothing, footwear and home textile suppliers’ conference. It previously said it had four times the number of regional and local sources than it had before.

Foschini has also played a big role in making sure it sources locally, by buying Prestige Clothing in Cape Town.

Edited by Banele Ginindza. With contributions by Ayanda Mdluli and Nompumelelo Magwaza.