Warning on effect continued exportation of chrome, raw materials will have on jobs
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Pretoria - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Friday the continued exportation of South Africa’s raw materials, particularly chrome ore, is leading into a crisis as the nation continues to lose jobs.
The union's president, Joseph Montisetse, said given the bleak jobs outlook at the present era of Covid-19, the government should implement urgent measures to protect the remaining jobs in mining, smelting and related industries.
“We thank you for choosing to research into this matter because if these issues can be followed up, maybe there will be a change of mind by business in the country.
’’The issue of the (exportation of) chrome ore from this country is quite a headache because in the Limpopo area where there is a lot of chrome, a lot of illegal mining is now happening in that area,” Montisetse said in an interview with the African News Agency in Pretoria.
He said from the illegal mining activities, multiple trucks are hauling chrome ore from Limpopo to the harbour in Durban for export overseas.
Montisetse said due to the massive exportation of raw materials, South Africa now relies on major importation of finished products – from the very same countries it exported goods to.
“Right now, I am from a hardware. I was having a problem with my geyser and they (handymen) wrote down some of the things I needed to go and buy.
’’Those things are made of chrome. I have the things here in my car. These things are not manufactured in South Africa,” said Montisetse.
“We cannot say we don’t have the technology to manufacture these things. So the issue of beneficiation, in terms of our manufacturing is what we are talking about.
’’We want to retain a certain percentage of our products – be it platinum, gold, diamonds. Our diamonds are being taken out of the country and they come back through what is called American Swiss. That American Swiss represents American imperialism.”
Montisetse said the NUM wonders why the government cannot act fast to save the millions of jobs at stake.
“The main problem with the government is that the economic policies are not designed in the country. They have to first get advice from Harvard University.
’’Our government is told that once you impose tax, we are pulling out and so on. Look at what the man called Paul Kagame is doing.
’’He has made a lot of progress because he is using the commodities from his own country. The Americans and the British do not like him, but he is making progress,” said Montisetse.
“We do not have progressive politicians in this country. We do not have people like Thomas Sankara, and Samora Machel. We do not have those people who can impose tax on big business. This tax is only being imposed on workers.”
With unemployment figures rising in South Africa amid rising coronavirus infections, lobby group SaveSA Smelters in June urged the government to speed up the implementation of the mooted tax on the export of raw ore, as it announced in October last year.
SaveSA Smelters convener Lindelani Nyathikazi said the proposed introduction of an export tax on chrome ore would help resuscitate the struggling industry that sources say employs about 68 000 people.
In October last year, the cabinet announced it was considering levying the export tax as part of a raft of measures to support domestic ferrochrome production and its chrome value-chain sector.
Nyathikazi said some people who were opposed to the tax on chrome ore were evidently supporting the “ransacking” of the country’s mineral resources without benefiting local communities.
He reiterated that his organisation would not allow the country’s minerals to leave the country without benefiting citizens, and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to make good on the cabinet’s promise to protect the sector by imposing the tax with immediate effect.
African News Agency (ANA)