Fresh unrest hits South Africa despite mine deal

September 19, 2012 4:19 pm
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Analyst Iraj Abedian, CEO of Pan African Investments, said the Marikana crisis and its resolution marked a watershed.

“There is no question that a precedent is set for workers to go on wildcat strikes and in a way try their best to negotiate a different term than what they had agreed to,” he told AFP.

As the strikes dragged on, the government last week announced a security clampdown and is now acting swiftly to stamp out illegal gatherings and confiscate machetes and other weapons.

The crackdown initially appeared to bring a semblance of stability, with Anglo American – known as Amplats – reopening their shuttered mines this week.

Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole could not immediately give attendance figures for Wednesday after worker representatives said a stayaway over wages had not ended.

“Nobody is going to be terrorised at work,” workers representative Zolani Bodlani told the crowd.

While the unrest broke out, thousands of Lonmin workers gathered at a local stadium where miners were urged to return to work, in a sharp turn-around after death threats were made on colleagues who went underground during the strike.

“Nobody is going to be terrorised at work,” workers representative Zolani Bodlani told the crowd.

The government has defended its crackdown, saying it was necessary to prevent a descent into lawlessness and damage to the economy, with the key mining industry forming the backbone of the continent’s powerhouse.

Mining directly employs around 500,000 people and, if related activities are factored in, accounts for nearly one-fifth of gross domestic product and twice as many jobs.

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