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Rustenburg – Can you recall when the Impala strike first started? …6 weeks ago! And now everyone has something to say about it and everyone has a suggestion in resolving it… sadly not one single unified conclusion could be reached within 6 weeks.
Maybe we need Oprah…
Alas, every action has a reaction… its how the world works. It all basically started with an illegal strike action of more than 17 000 unruly participants. Well noted by numerous sources of the media, the strike has been called off a couple of times; but kept flaming up, out of control…
Then non-miners decided to join in…

Strike spreads to Bafokeng
According to Anti-Bafokeng Repression Campaign coordinator Matlantla Mekgwe, the Impala riots spilled over to Bafokeng, Luka Village, where “hundreds joined the violent march against Impala Platinum” (1 March 2012).
As reported, an enormous contingent of Police was deployed around 5 in the morning, to dispel an angry crowd which blockaded the railway line and the entrance to Luka village with stones and burning tyres. He also claimed that, both the Executive Mayor of Rustenburg Local Municipality and the Bafokeng chief have recently refused permission for Bafokeng communities to stage march-demonstrations.
“We are tired of the Bafokeng Chief. One female resident from Luka village was stabbed by angry mine workers on her way to work. We tried talking to the Bafokeng chief on Monday about the impact of the Impala mine-strike on our community, but to no avail. The chief refused to talk to us and the Bafokeng security chased us away,” Mekgwe shouted as he was whisked away in the back of a police van.

13 Arrested
During the Luka protests, 13 individuals were arrested, Thursday March 1. The protest erupted 8 kilometres from Impala Platinum (Implats) mine.
“We arrested 13 people for public violence and also confiscated two vehicles with burning tyres,” Captain Tselane Nkala said.
Luka village residents demanded to be employed in unfilled positions at the mine. According to community leader Solly Huma, they would continue the protest until the locals were hired. “If Impala thinks their problems have ended, let them wait and see what we will do. We are going to protest until we are hired.”
Police used rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of around 500 people. Schools were also disrupted and people were prevented from going to work.
Nkala said the 13 people arrested would appear in the Bafokeng Magistrate's Court on Friday. Police spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane added that the situation was tense and was being monitored by the police.

Impala continues Rehiring Workers as Protesters Block Routes
Implats' head of personnel Johan Theron said in a statement that preference would be given to returning employees, who would receive their old benefits, in the filling of open positions. “If we receive more than 15 000 applications, we will keep a recall list and as soon as opportunities become available, those on the list will be prioritised.”
The company hopes that this also signals the end to the violence and intimidation. Implats would like to thank the Police for their strong presence on the ground and for their assistance during the past few weeks. Their continued vigilance is vital as employees return to work.

Violence leads to Violence, right?
Rustenburg Police have registered yet another mine related public violence arrest on Wednesday, 29 February 2012.
According to the information received, workers at Samancor mine barricaded the main entrance with stones and trees, not allowing the night shift workers to get out. Due to unruly workers and one of the SAPS members being hurt, the Police had to control the situation by using rubber bullets Brigadier Ngubane said.
Consequently, 6 suspects were arrested (three males and three females), whilst the investigation continues.

‘I also have something to say’
Expelled African National Congress (ANC) Youth League president Julius Malema, together with ANC deputy secretary General Thandi Modise on Tuesday urged workers to refrain from violence, return to work and engage with management through the formal structure of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
However, Malema told the crowd that the mine could afford the workers' R9000 wage demand or more.

 

"Workers cannot be wrong," he said to the applause of the crowd. "Once workers decide
on action, something must be wrong." Yes… I am SURE this will solve the 6-week strike.
Malema, at the forefront of mine nationalisation despite national and international resistance, also added, "You must benefit from the mine. If you are not benefiting, you must fight until you benefit."
Malema also stated that in every revolution there were sell-outs. "Do not worry about amagundwane (rats) – their time will come..," he said to the applause of the crowd… Many workers said they regarded Malema as a "true leader".

Money-Money-Money
No, not Abba’s song… The strike has cost Impala, the world’s second-largest producer of the metal, more than 2 billion rand ($267 million) of revenue. The lost output would tip world platinum demand-supply into a deficit in 2012.
South Africa produced 73% of the world's platinum production in 2011 according to Johnson Matthey. Citibank calculated that South Africa's PGM deposits comprise of 88% of world's total in 2010. Impala produced 23% of world's platinum while its Rustenburg mine (where the strike occurred) is the largest platinum mine, producing 15% of world supply.
South Africa should be extremely concerned about the strike at Implats, Northam Platinum CEO Glyn Lewis said at the weekend.
“The illegality of it, the intimidation associated with it, the loss of production, the potential closure of shafts, the loss of jobs, the loss of income and the loss of investment into this country all have very dire ramifications,” he said.

NUM struggling for Control
One thing is certain: events on the ground in Rustenburg have spun beyond the control of National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) or the police.
However, “The Rustenburg mine workers are busy going back to work,” said Sydwell Dokolwana, the regional secretary for NUM, representing the majority of employees at the mine.

New Kid on the Block…
The new kid on the block at Impala Platinum's
giant is the little-known Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). AMCU is headed by Joseph Mathunjwa, a FORMER NUM trade union supervisor.
Implats admits that the emergence of AMCU lies at the heart of the dispute. AMCU has been testing the waters against the dominant NUM, South Africa's largest union with 320 000 members.
“NUM is spending more time playing politics than fighting for workers' rights. We don't need NUM anymore because they don't help us. They don't talk to the people," a angry protester said.
Sadly, illegal strikes will likely become more common, especially if workers believe that the NUM fail to represent them adequately at Implats' Rustenburg mine while AMCU's presence – though covert – has brought them gains.

Deadline extended
Many of Impala’s workers are making their way back from the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Lesotho, and 13,500 people returned to work by the deadline to be reinstated with their previous benefits, Johan Theron said. Impala plans to fill 15,000 jobs.

Killings; NOT Fatalities
Platinum mines are among the most dangerous mines in the world, and from timeto- time, it makes the headlines. Though
the word “fatality” would be used; definition: a death resulting from an accident or a disaster.
It is sad, distressing to say the least, that during the past few weeks, four people were killed and at least 50 hurt in violent protests and attacks on employees who continued to go to work, according to police and the company.
Around 11,600 miners and 4,200 processing and services employees did not participate in the work stoppage.
Implats deplores this violence and intimidation and calls on the SAPS to continue their vigilance in dealing with this criminal activity.
Implats said on Friday that to date, 59 people had been treated in hospitals for injuries sustained in the violence and 24 remain hospitalised.

     
       
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