NGO plans to lobby Lonmin shareholders at AGM

he Bench Marks Foundation has said it wants to compel platinum miner Lonmin to meet its obligations by providing social needs to workers at its operations near Rustenburg in North West.

The Bench Marks Foundation has even set a deadline for Lonmin, saying the miner should complete its lagging corporate social responsibility by the fifth anniversary of the Marikana massacre on 16 August 2017.

Bishop Jo Seoka, chairman of the Bench Marks Foundation, said he would attend the annual general meeting of the London-listed company on Thursday to lobby institutional shareholders to commit to divesting from Lonmin should it fail to meet the 16 August deadline.

In a statement, Seoka said his attendance at Lonmin AGM would be to “expose the lie” that the world’s third-largest platinum miner had fulfilled its obligations of meeting workers’ housing needs, improving their living conditions, or implementing a living wage.

Despite converting single-sex hostels in to family units and donating land to the government to build houses for more than half of its workers, Lonmin still lags behind with plans to build accommodation for at least 11,500 employees.

Last month, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) threatened to suspend or even cancel Lonmin’s mining right at Marikana if the company fails to provide a “compliant housing plan” for mineworkers.

“We will not rest until justice is achieved for the massacred, arrested and the widows and orphans left behind,” Seoka said

“We call on investors at the Lonmin AGM to compel the company to address our demands and to set a time limit of 16 August 2017 to comply. Should this not happen, we will call for international solidarity to have Lonmin’s mining licence revoked, as per President Jacob Zuma’s statement in December 2016.”

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The Bench Marks Foundation, an NGO that monitors the practices of multi-national corporations, said the workers’ demands include that Lonmin implement a living wage of R12,500 per month.

They also demand the housing needs of workers, 33,000 of whom live in informal housing, to be addressed comprehensively, as well as compensation for the widows, orphans and injured survivors of the August 2012 violence.

Lonmin chief executive Ben Magara said last week that the miner was working towards a major housing investment though efforts had been curtailed by the platinum price.

On Tuesday, Lonmin spokesperson Wendy Tlou said the company would engage openly with the Bench Marks Foundation on various matters and concerns of its community.

“Lonmin met with Bishop Jo Seoka and the Bench Marks Foundation at our office in Melrose Arch last week and our CEO will be meeting with him again in London this week,” Tlou said.

“The Bench Marks Foundation represents some of our community members in the Greater Lonmin Community and we will seek ways to work in consultation with them on various matters, including housing, during 2017.”

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