As the strike in the platinum sector continues, the Minister of Energy Susan Shabangu calmed fears it would harm the industry and country by pointing out that South Africa had restored the rule of law, peace and stability in the industry.
Speaking at a media briefing following the official opening of the 19th Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CCTIC), Shabangu said engagements by a team led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe since last year had begun to show progress.
“Where we are now, we’ve seen that there’s more compliance by the unions in making sure that they strike and march peacefully,” she said.
She said there were police on the ground where people have been involved in acts of violence, while the department is working with the Department of Labour, with the assistance of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), to resolve wage disputes and to resolve the current strike in the platinum sector.
“We will continue to pursue all parties to find an amicable solution which will result in us being able to attract investment, but also in a way that recognises the rights of workers and of employers of South Africa as enshrined in the Constitution,” she said.
Shabangu reiterated that violence would not be tolerated.
“What is unacceptable to us is when strikes become violent, strikes become disruptive to other individuals… that becomes an illegal or criminal element,” she said.
In her opening speech at the indaba this morning, Shabangu pointed out that the gold industry had recently demonstrated that there are sufficient checks and balances for both workers and recourse for employers.
Turning to the Mining Charter, she said progress had been made through visits to companies, with a view to finalising the charter by November.
She stressed that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development (MPRDA) Bill would not create an uncertain regulatory regime, but would on the contrary optimise mining, minerals and upstream petroleum development in South Africa.
The bill would also, among various things, promote mineral value addition of South Africa’s minerals and address loopholes identified in various court judgments, such as outlining detailed consultation processes.
The bill also provides modalities for state participation in the development of the upstream petroleum industry.
Shabangu reiterated that under the bill, no mining company would be required to beneficiate or be forced to subsidise the manufacturing industry.
She said in Parliament, MPs were moving ahead in an attempt to finalise the amendments before the end of the current administration, at the end of April.
Shabungu’s department had published the technical regulations for the development of shale gas for public comment and the final regulations will be released shortly.