President Zuma sends Army to Marikana
The SA National Defence Force has been deployed domestically from September 14 until next year in Marikana “and other areas of the country where needed”, the Presidency has announced
The Presidency said in a short statement that the soldiers would be deployed to support the police “in the prevention and combating of crime as well as the maintenance of law and order in the Marikana area, North West province, and other areas around the country where needed”.
The statement did not detail where the other areas may be.
The deployment will last from September 14 until January 31, 2013.
“The extended period will see the SANDF soldiers supporting the police during the festive season period around the country, as they did last year, 2011,” the statement read.
Earlier today, Lonmin miners returned to work in a jubilant mood - but Amplats issued an ultimatum to illegal strikers and Amplats protesters burned tyres, attacked shops and barricaded a road.
Workers at mines near Lonmin are demanding similar increases to that achieved by the nearly six-week-old strike at Marikana.
Striking workers from Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats) Rustenburg mine barricaded a street with burning tyres and broke into local shops and stalls, settling them alight. A police helicopter hovered overhead and armed officers backed by armoured vehicles and water cannons were on stand-by close by.
Amplats, the world’s biggest platinum producer, is threatening legal action if the wildcat strikers do not return to work.
“We’ll buy 20 litres of petrol and if police get violent, we’ll make petrol bombs and throw them at them,” said Lawrence Mudise, an Amplats rock driller, holding up a sign demanding 16,700 rand in monthly pay.
"We’ll not go to work until we get what we want," another miner said.
Amplats said disruptions at its mine posed a threat to the site’s future.
“Operations are already under considerable economic pressure”, it said in a statement. “Any further delays in returning to work will only increase the risk to the long-term viability of these mines.”
Some 15,000 miners at the KDC West operation of Gold Fields, the world’s fourth largest bullion producer, are also holding an illegal strike.
The rank and file are discontent with the local leadership of the dominant National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) but their stance has been given fresh impetus by the Lonmin settlement.
Gold Fields said this week it would not entertain demands for a minimum wage of 12,500 rand despite losing 1,400 ounces a day — close to 15% of group production.
NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni said the union, a key political ally of the ruling African National Congress, was trying to help.
The stand-off threatens the NUM-dominated collective wage-bargaining that has typified South African industrial relations since apartheid.
“We are trying to narrow the demands and get them to go back while we negotiate,” Baleni told reporters.
Economists say the precedent set by Lonmin could spread through an economy already saddled with globally uncompetitive labour costs, stoking inflation and curbing the central bank’s ability to cut interest rates to boost sputtering growth.
Meanwhile, as the return to work began in earnest at Lonmin’s Marikana on Thursday morning, workers shouted “We are reporting for work”. The miners were in jubilant mood after securing wage rises of up to 22%.
“I feel very happy that I can go back to work now,” said Nqukwe Sabulelo, a rock-driller at the mine. “I’m going to live well now.”