, CARLETONVILLE, South Africa, Sep 11 – South Africa’s maverick politician Julius Malema on Tuesday fired up mine workers to strike for five days every month as stoppages in the vital sector spread to the gold industry.
Malema urged workers at Gold Fields where 15,000 miners downed tools on Sunday to hold the monthly strikes until mining giants bow to an across-the-board 12,500 rand ($1,526) basic salary demand, a threefold increase.
“If they don’t meet your demand, we are going to strike every month for five days until we reach 12,500 rand,” Malema told a cheering crowd of around 3,000 at a stadium in Carletonville, west of Johannesburg.
“This is a serious revolution, don’t give up!” he said. “You must render the mines ungovernable.”
Expelled earlier this year from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for ill-discipline, Malema has capitalised on the mining unrest to push his radical views and to take political shots at his enemy President Jacob Zuma.
Known by the nickname “Juju”, he has no formal union or political affiliation, but has all the same gained popularity among the striking workers in recent weeks.
Once a staunch supporter of Zuma before a fallout, Malema has stated he wants to see the head of state removed from the ANC leadership at the forthcoming party elections in December.
The winner of the vote will automatically become the ANC candidate for the 2014 presidential elections and likely to be South Africa’s next president.
Malema has not stated any presidential ambitions, but some of the Gold Fields strikers held placards written “President Juju” and “100pc Juju.”
Demanding the removal of their local union leadership and asking for tax-free bonuses, the Gold Fields workers downed tools at its KDC mine, 70 kilometres west of Johannesburg.