Pretoria - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has urged the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) Gwede Mantashe to act now against Sibanye-Stillwater, by revoking its mining rights in the gold sector.
NUM general secretary William Mabapa said it had always been their standing view that Sibanye-Stillwater under the leadership of Neal Froneman was the major destroyer of jobs in the mining industry in South Africa.
“This man is already threatening to issue Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to retrench workers because of the current gold sector strike. We are not shocked or surprised, that is what he does best.
“With poor black mineworkers on strike for almost three months demanding a mere R1 000 and 6% in living wages, Sibanye-Stillwater continues to show workers a middle finger. The company is even boasting it has enough money to fight a strike and stop production for years, which on its own gives the DMRE minister power to suspend or cancel rights, permits or permissions to mine,” Mabapa said.
He said Froneman had recently been awarded an astounding R300 million while employees were out in the cold, saying this was atrocious, disgusting, and sickening.
“Benefits to mineworkers, who are supposed to be the first beneficiaries of these natural resources remain minimal or nothing. Mineworkers continue to risk their lives deep below the surface of the earth to produce gold, but at the end of the month, they earn poverty wages. This is an insult.
“We are agreeing with minister Gwede Mantashe that Sibanye-Stillwater is no longer interested in mining in this country. The company is acting like a government that is in charge and Froneman is the president, owning all the minerals.
“As the NUM we did raise our concerns about the government’s quietness when Neal Froneman was undermining the very core of the Freedom Charter, which proclaims that the minerals belong to all the people of South Africa,’ he said.
Mabapa said NUM would be fully supporting the minister when he starts the process of revoking Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining licence.
“We are calling for minister Gwede Mantashe not to capitulate when threatened with legal action by this evil company.
“It is quite clear that there is a basis for that. Sibanye-Stillwater currently does not want to mine any longer. It is arrogantly sitting on top of the properties of minerals, preventing other potential companies from mining.
“Section 47 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act gives the minister power to suspend or cancel rights, permits or permissions in certain circumstances,” he said.
Mabapa said mineworkers were deeply trapped in poverty, saying “Why can't Froneman take full responsibility? Sibanye-Stillwater has over the past years earned the title of worst employer amongst workers.”
He said NUM was also perturbed by the deafening silence coming from the Sibanye-Stillwater board and its chairperson Dr Vincent Maphai and from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), a key investor in Sibanye-Stillwater.
“The PIC manages the pensions of government employees and they must come out and condemn the behaviour of the Sibanye-Stillwater management.
“The PIC is owned by workers in the public sector. By being silent are they telling us they do not care about the plight of mineworkers? Or are they just enjoying the dividends made from the sweat of workers who are now on strike?
“Where is the Sibanye Stillwater board and its chairperson Dr Vincent Maphai when exploited black mineworkers need their intervention? They are nowhere to be found and their silence is extremely loud. The NUM is extremely disappointed by their silence and lack of intervention. These are sell-outs and lapdogs,’ he said.
He also said that NUM was extremely disappointed by a lack of coverage from major television networks like the SABC, eNCA and Newzroom Africa, saying it was obvious that they have taken a deliberate decision not to cover the current Sibanye-Stillwater gold strike.
“They have deliberately decided to support arrogant and pompous rich multi-millionaires who are exploiting black mineworkers. We know that they are not covering the current strike because they do not want to lose their advertising revenues. Workers in this country are on their own.
“The media is a tool owned and controlled by the rich and mineworkers have to beg for coverage. Why must the working class in this country pay for a TV licence when their issues are not covered by the SABC? Mabapa asked.