Tags: SAfrica | mining | economy

S.Africa Admits Marikana Errors, Vows New Approach on Mines

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 03:09 PM

South Africa's new mining minister admitted on Wednesday that the government could have handled better the strike that led to the killing of 34 mineworkers in Marikana two years ago.

The massacre after violent clashes with the police at the Lonmin platinum mine, north of Johannesburg during a work stoppage, has widely been compared to apartheid-era atrocities.

Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said he hoped there would never be a repeat of the killings and vowed to take a different approach to the country's vital but troubled mining sector.

"We will do whatever we can in the long term to contribute towards the alleviation of the pain," he said on the sidelines of an annual mining conference just three days before the second anniversary of the bloodshed.

He acknowledged mistakes in the handling of the strike in 2012, saying "we could have managed that situation much much better".

The minister told the conference that the time had come for a different tack in addressing the crises facing the country's vital mining sector.

Protracted labour unrests and "rising tension" between mining companies and communities, pointed to an "urgent need to do things differently", Ramatlhodi said.

South Africa's platinum mines were crippled this year by a five-month strike which cost companies a reported 24 billion rand ($2.27 billion) in earnings.

As delegates met, around 2,000 protesters from mining communities staged a protest march outside the conference venue.

"We will not accept the scraps from the table of the masters," the group said in a list of demands handed to the Chamber of Mines, the conference organiser.

The protesters wearing white T-shirts with the slogan "power in people", raised a series of complaints including environmental pollution and a shortage of jobs.

A prominent Johannesburg Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn, who led the protesters, warned of the need to quickly address South Africa's woes.

"We stand on a very precarious precipice at the moment. If we do not address the disparities between the haves and the have-nots in this country, we must prepare ourselves for violence and for further disruptions to our society," the bishop told AFP.

Unions accuse employers failing to honour their responsibilities.

"The image of the mining industry has taken a knock especially after the Marikana massacre," National Union of Miners general secretary Frans Baleni told AFP.

South Africa, home to the world's leading platinum producers and some of the largest gold mines, has laws compelling mining firms to develop the areas where they operate, including providing decent accommodation for workers.

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© AFP 2017

   
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2014-09-13
Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 03:09 PM
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