Pretoria: The platinum mining belt in the North West is much calmer since government decided to intervene mid-last year, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
The Deputy President said a range of measures have been put in place to deal with safety and socio-economic challenges that mineworkers faced following a spike in violent protests, brought about by tensions between rival mining unions and wage negotiations disputes.
Responding to questions in the National Assembly in Cape Town on Wednesday, Deputy President Motlanthe said after a wave of strikes in the mining sector that affected production and threatened growth, the industry has since stabilised after President Jacob Zuma delegated him to mitigate the situation last year.
“I am sure that members will agree that in spite of the occasional flare-ups, the situation in Marikana in particular and the platinum belt in general is much calmer and less characterised by violent crime and murder.
“However, we cannot be complacent and the situation is therefore continuously being monitored through engagements with all stakeholders,” he said.
After the Deputy President mediated talks between labour, the mining industry and government, a mining forum was established. On 3 July 2013, all parties signed a framework agreement for sustainable mining and identified both short-term and medium: to long-term measures required to stabilise the mining sector.
“Ensuring the rule of law, peace and stability and the provision of proper and sustainable human settlements infrastructure in the Rustenburg platinum belt, we have identified some of the short-term intervention measures that require immediate attention,” the Deputy President said.
He said some of the measures included, amongst others, the formation of the Mines Crime Combating Forum: launched in August 2013: to ensure that trade unions and mining companies cooperated with the SA Police Service to maintain peace and stability in the mines and surrounding communities.
“Government has also taken steps to improve the processing of all cases emanating from the mining sector.
“The Minister of Justice has annexed the magisterial district of Brits, Mankweng and Rustenburg to the Bafokeng district in order to create capacity and accelerate the hearing of cases emanating from the mines in those affected areas,” Deputy President Motlanthe said.
Taking care of socio-economic matters
To address housing issues, a technical team, comprising the industry and the local municipality, is currently looking into the provision of human settlements infrastructure in the mining community. Other mining companies are already rolling out the construction of houses in affected areas, in line with the Mining Charter commitments.
The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which mediated wage talks after the Marikana unrest, is also providing a series of training programmes in the mines to educate mineworkers on best labour relations practice and workplace relations.
“The Chamber of Mines has established a task team on employee indebtedness, or debt trap, for mineworkers.
“Amongst other things, they are offering financial literacy classes and they have also taken steps to shut down illegal micro-lenders. We will ultimately address this challenge in the medium term,” Deputy President Motlanthe said.
Mineworkers are also being trained and re-skilled by mining companies in partnership with Further Education Training (FET) institutions.
The Deputy President also said the migrant labour system was being reviewed to ensure that mineworkers spend more time with their families.
SOURCE: South African Official News