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By Citizen Reporter


10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre: Minerals Council on backing mineworkers

The mining-industry employer organisation says the underlying issues that may have contributed to the tragedy ten years ago should be dealt with.

As the country marks a decade since the Marikana massacre, the Minerals Council South Africa has recommitted itself to improving the working conditions of mineworkers and communities to ensure that the tragic events of 16 August 2012, are never repeated in the mining industry.

Marikana massacre 10th anniversary

Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of the Marikana massacre where 34 mineworkers were brutally shot and killed by police.

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Mineworkers at the time had been on a strike demanding improved salaries, but the situation became volatile in the days leading up to 16 August, when 10 security officials were also killed.

The Minerals Council said the 10th anniversary of the massacre was an opportunity for the mining industry and other stakeholders to reflect on the underlying issues that may have contributed to the tragedy.

The spokesperson for Minerals Council South Africa (Minerals Council), Allan Seccombe, said youth unemployment and poverty were at crisis levels across the country, and the industry needed to play its role in confronting these challenges.

“There are some solutions that mining companies have within their control, but there are critical areas that are not, and which can only be addressed by the government such as delivery of municipal services, residential planning, local economic development and the provision of socio-economic infrastructure,” Seccombe said in a statement.

He said the mining sector had a role to play, but all stakeholders needed to contribute to creating an environment that encouraged investment, higher inclusive growth and development which could result in much lower levels of joblessness.

“Among the solutions mining companies implemented were improved wages and assisting employees with indebtedness by introducing financial counselling and stopping creditors’ garnishee orders against their salaries.

“Since 2012, wages for employees in the platinum sector have nearly doubled, rising by 91.4%. In the broader mining industry, wages have grown by 86.5%.”

Employment of locals

Seccombe said the industry had taken steps to ensure the employment of more South Africans in mines to gradually replace migrant workers from neighbouring countries.

He said they had increased the flow of financial benefits from mines into communities and the domestic economy.

About 35 000 of the 460 000 workers in the mining industry are migrant workers. Seccombe said the number of migrant employees from neighbouring countries was a quarter of the levels a decade ago.

“A further area that mining companies can largely control is the implementation of their social and labour plans (SLPs), which are the regulatory underpinning of their mining rights, and which are audited by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE).

“These plans are designed to ensure communities and labour realise a positive impact from mining operations. The SLPs are drawn up in consultation with communities and local municipalities and funded by the mines.

“The projects range from building schools, clinics, and houses to the provision of water or electricity to neighbouring communities and creation of economic opportunities through enterprise and supplier development programmes.”

‘Procurement mafias’

Minerals Council further lamented that party politics in local communities had overtaken the good intent of SLPs.

The organisation said there was a rise in what the industry called the “procurement mafia”, which are groups of politically connected or criminal elements demanding a fee of an SLP project’s value under the guise of empowerment.

It said these criminal elements were increasingly disrupting the implementation of these projects through violence and intimidation to extort concessions.

“The procurement mafia use their clout to whip up community agitation and disrupt mining operations to back their demands for contracts that will benefit them.

“These criminal elements disrupt the development of SLP projects and give rise to the perception mining companies are doing little or nothing about honouring their commitments.”

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

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