RUSTENBURG - Newly appointed South African Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe is conflicted, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction (Amcu) said on Tuesday.
"Already during the Farlam Commission it was pointed out that minister Mantashe was involved in the events leading up to the Marikana massacre. Evidence showed a clear agenda to destabilise Amcu, with his open loyalty to his former trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM]," Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Tuesday.
"Even though Amcu welcomes the replacement of the Gupta-linked former Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister Mantashe comes with his own skeletons in the closet. It is clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa does not fully comprehend that Minister Mantashe is seriously conflicted when it comes to the mining sector."
He said Amcu, feared the close association between Ramaphosa and Mantashe would damage the integrity of the process.
"Both were ex-NUM members, both are leaders in the African National Congress (ANC), and both were intimately involved in the events surrounding the Marikana massacre on the platinum belt."
He said it was also commonly known that the Ramaphosa had vested interests in the mining sector, and now it appeared Mantashe would act as gatekeeper.
"This situation is unsustainable, and the president might face the stark reality of becoming guilty by association."
Mathunjwa added that right before the Marikana massacre, Ramaphosa had called Mantashe to a meeting and at the time it was said that he was being called due to his former role as secretary-general of the NUM. "However, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, the actual email showed him being called in his capacity as secretary-general of the ANC, and not as a former NUM leader. This made it crystal clear that President Ramaphosa wanted to hide the involvement of the ANC in the massacre."
Mathunjwa said Mantashe was a clear enemy of Amcu, and it was very likely that he would act against the union.
"It is clear that Minister Mantashe is completely conflicted. It looks like an effort to revive the NUM in the mining sector. Minister Mantashe is not a neutral person," he said.
Gwede Mantashe was the general secretary of the NUM when he expelled Mathunjwa from the NUM. Mathunjwa went on to form Amcu, and in 2012 dethroned the NUM as a dominant union in platinum mines around Rustenburg, after mineworkers at Lonmin in Marikana rejected NUM and elected to represent themselves to engage Lonmin in demanding a basic monthly salary of R12,500 during Agust 2012.
The strike turn violent and 44 people were killed, including 34 mineworkers who were killed on August 16, 2012, when the police opened fire on them. Ten people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed by the striking workers in the preceding week.
After the wild cat strike Amcu became the dominant union in the platinum belt.
African News Agency/ANA