We would like to present to you our reasons why there should be an industry-wide miners’ strike and why the mineworkers should take over the mines and run it themselves.
THE BIG MINING COMPANIES HAVE BEEN STEALING SINCE THE DAYS OF APARTHEID
This is what Ben Fine wrote in the Aug-Sept 2011 The Shopsteward, page 18,
‘This is the issue of capital flight. It is and has been on an unprecedented scale, much of it totally illegal (and managed by large-scale corporations through transfer pricing – declaring value of exports from South Africa at a lower price than charged to importing countries). Illegal capital flight was certainly extensive during the apartheid period but it has attained new and dramatic heights subsequently, exceeding 20% of GDP in its peak year, 2007.’
Thus, just in 2007, the mining corporations stole R600 billion from the country. This is besides the hundreds of billions they take out of the country through declared profits. Let us assume that the mines stole only R300 billion every year. Then over the past 18 years the mines have stolen over R5400 billion. If we consider the period of apartheid, then the mining companies have stolen far over R10 000 Billion from the country. [If we include the declared profits of the mines, then they have taken out much more than R20 000 billion in wealth, just from South Africa]. When we consider that many workers on the mines come from Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zambia, etc, then the theft by the mining corporations, has also been from Southern Africa. This excludes the figure that the mining corporations directly steal from the mineworkers in the whole of Southern and West Africa.
If all 327 000 mineworkers (formal and informal) received R12 500 minimum wage per month, this means an extra R2,5 billion per year, less than 0.5% of what the mining corporations directly steal through transfer pricing every year.
If we leave aside the profits that the mining corporations make; let us just focus on the stealing by them. Then the R300 billion stolen through transfer pricing every year would have been enough to build decent housing for all (not just an RDP brick shack), provide full employment for all at a living wage in all urban and rural areas, provide quality public health care, free, quality education for all up to university level, and there would have been an abundance of wealth left over from this for universal upliftment of the masses in the whole of Southern Africa.
THE ANC GOVERNMENT, THE SACP AND COSATU LEADERS IGNORE THIS LARGE-SCALE STEALING BY THE MINING CORPORATIONS
The evidence of the mass stealing is not only reported in The Shopsteward Journal of Cosatu, but also The Journal of Southern African Studies (and other reports). Yet the ANC government, the SACP and Cosatu leaders, the NUM leaders turn a blind eye to it. This is what Ben Fine reports in Cosatu journal, The Shopsteward:
‘Unfortunately, far from addressing this problem, the record of post-apartheid
governments has been at best to turn a blind eye, and at worst to facilitate it,’
How many people have died from starvation, from preventable disease, from unemployment, from freezing in the cold shacks, all because the ANC government and the alliance leadership turned a blind eye to the mass theft by the mining corporations? How many cannot even get through school because of poverty conditions from birth? How many are unemployed? How many are working poor? All because the ANC government not only turns a blind eye to this stealing, but accepts a few crumbs from the mining monopolies in exchange.
WHILE ALLOWING THE MINING MONOPOLIES TO STEAL AND KEEP THE MASSES IN POVERTY, THE ANC ALLIANCE LEADERS HAVE SHARES IN THE MINING COMPANIES, ALSO ACTING AS LABOUR BROKERS AND SECURITY COMPANIES ON THE MINES
The NUM (National Union of Mineworkers) leaders know that the mine bosses are stealing but each time accept low wages, acting against members who dare challenge the agreements with the bosses. The NUM leaders know that their members live in shacks, suffering and dying as a result of the large-scale stealing by the mine bosses, yet they act to discipline any member who rises up against these poverty conditions. Is this not the worst type of ‘warlordism’?
At the same time, the NUM leadership has a partnership with the Chamber of mines through U-bank to provide loans to workers. Instead of fighting for higher wages, the NUM leaders act as a loan shark for the mine bosses. The Zuma family (through Thuli Zuma) has a stake in Peu which is the BEE partner of Capital Alliance (and thus of Standard Bank) which has shares with the NUM leaders in U-bank. BHP and Anglo are some of the mining partners with the NUM leadership in the Mineworkers Development Agency- throwing a few crumbs to workers while the big capitalists walk off with most of the wealth.
Standard Bank, which has ANC NEC member, Cyril Ramaphosa, as a Director, has shares in mines in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Ghana and in Platinum mining in SA, such as WBJV Platinum project.
Ramaphosa operates JIC, one of the major labour brokers on the mines. Ramaphosa’s Shanduka, operates Protea Coin security company, also one of the main security companies on the mines. Shanduka regards itself as a leader in controlling ‘labour unrest’. Shanduka received loans from the international banks to buy its stake in Lonmin; so Ramaphosa, Shanduka, African Rainbow Minerals, like all BEE capitalists are frontmen and women for the same capitalists that exploited workers before 1994 and who still dominate us today- the Anglo American, BHP Billiton, etc.
The leadership of the ANC Women’s League and the Sisulu family have a stake in Aquarius Platinum which has 10 000 out of 11 000 workers subcontracted to labour brokers.
Sexwale and Valli Moosa have shares in Anglo Platinum
The Mandela and Zuma family have shares in Aurora mining- these bosses have stripped the assets of the company and owe workers millions of Rands.
The Motlanthe family has shares in mining, such as Sishen iron ore.
The SACP investments linked to Izingwe have shares in Anglo gold Ashanti and Harmony gold.
Kopano Ke Matla, Cosatu’s investment company, has formed a joint venture NMDC (India) and has shares in coal, iron ore and Manganese mining in South Africa. This joint venture is exploring mining in Mozambique, Tanzania and elsewhere.
Instead of fighting the massive stealing by the mining companies, the alliance leadership have shares in the mines and in human trafficking (labour broking) on the mines.
THE STRIKE AT LONMIN AND THE MARIKANA MASSACRE
Most of the NUM leaders and shopstewards have been bought off by the mine bosses to force workers to accept poverty wages and conditions. The strike at Lonmin, like the strike at Implats, was a revolt by workers against the partnership by the NUM leaders with the bosses. Union structures and the alliance structures are instruments to discipline workers to accept slave conditions. This is why NUM rank and file members rose up against the leadership and for a living wage. It is why workers have formed independent committees. AMCU had a minimal presence at Lonmin and even they admitted they are not leading the strike. In fact, quite often the AMCU leaders have asked workers to go back to work without their demands having been met. The workers rejected this.
Before the 16th August, the first 3 people killed were strikers. They were killed by people wearing red NUM T-shirts. 2 other strikers were killed by the police when marching strikers were ambushed by police.
The Lonmin management met police directly before the massacre. The hills where workers gathered are 3km away from the gates of Lonmin, on public land. How was it possible for a special unit of the police, gathering members from around the country, armed with semi-automatic weapons, without orders from the Commissioner of Police, the Minister of Police and indeed, the President himself? The ANC govt has a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Workers were chased from the back towards a 5m opening in razor wire. This was portrayed by the media as if the workers were attacking the police! If there was an attack by workers on police, how come not a single policeman was injured, not even a scratch? There is evidence that many were shot in the back, some were driven over by Nyalas, several leaders were targeted and killed.
Yet, on the 7th September the alliance secretariat, Mantashe, Nzimande and Vavi, issue a statement that the shooting of the workers resulted from the protest. (‘the protest action and resultant shooting’) In other words, the massacre of over 34 strikers by the police resulted from the strike of the mineworkers. Vavi, Nzimande and Mantashe blame the strikers for the death of the 34 strikers. This covers up the collusion of the ANC govt with the Lonmin bosses in the targeted killing of the leadership of the strike. Vavi has said that the police were poorly trained. But this special unit was trained by the FBI, which has a policy of targeted assassination of leadership of the working class resistance throughout the world- just ask the Palestinians about this. No, this had nothing to do with poor training. This was the real meaning of the ANC govt’s policy of ‘shoot to kill’. The police unit posed with their ‘kills’ before the ambulance was allowed in. Poor training? No. Many of the 259 survivors who were arrested immediately after the massacre, were tortured. Poor training of the police? No. Charging the survivors with murder of their own comrades who were shot by the police- poor training? No.
The police and prosecution colluded with the mine management to smash and behead the strike. Was the massacre and the subsequent state of emergency in Rustenberg, not an act of massive intimidation and warlordism by the mining bosses (Anglo and Lonmin) and the ANC govt, against the workers who are standing up against the mass stealing by the big capitalists? By being silent on the mass stealing by the mining bosses, by being silent on the ANC leaders who are human traffickers (labour brokers),how can Vavi, Nzimande and Mantashe claim to ‘protect the rights of all South Africans’? The Alliance leadership are the warlords, the police, of the big bosses. They want us to remain slaves.
THE WAY FORWARD
Firstly, there has to be a call for all mines to elect strike committees and to link up with the central miners ‘war committee’; each of these strike committees should have delegates from mineworkers and from the mineworker’s communities. Thus it follows that these committees should spearhead a general strike in the mining industry based on R12500 minimum for all mineworkers, an end to stealing by the mine bosses and for all the stolen wealth to be returned immediately.
Cosatu was founded on the principle of ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’, yet not a single Cosatu affiliate nor central leadership, have organised any protest against the Marikana massacre. Why? Because the structure of Cosatu, like the other unions, with its BEC’s REC’s, CEC’s, all lend themselves to control by a small clique which compromises with the bosses, to keep the working class in slavery.
Surely, the first challenge to the Cosatu National Congress should be to call a General strike, in support of the mineworkers strike, calling for an end to the mass stealing by the mine bosses, for all the wealth stolen over the years by the Anglo American and other monopolies, to be brought back, for all mineworkers to be paid R12500 as a minimum, for the families of the strikers killed to be paid a minimum of R12 500 per month (with full benefits and increasing as prices rise), as if those workers were still alive today.
But, crucially, due to the nature of the union structures, such a general strike should be based on strike committees, that unite workers’ delegates from all the factories, with delegates from the working class communities, as spearheaded by the mineworker committees. Such committees must be extended to all committees of the ‘service delivery’ protestors around the country. We need to add the call for the protest leaders in the North Cape to be immediately released. By supporting the demands of the strikers for an end to all stealing by the mine bosses, we are also saying that here is the money for all adequate service delivery, for housing, electricity, sanitation, roads, schooling, jobs, health care. This is one struggle against the capitalist system that keeps the masses in poverty in the midst of plenty.
The state is massacring the working class, the state is a partnership of the ANC elite with Anglo American and the big capitalists. We cannot support the call for nationalisation under this state. We have to make the call precise to be nationalization, without compensation, under workers control. The bosses threaten to close the mines. The workers say, we know how to operate the mines; if you do not want to stop stealing and if you do not bring back the stolen wealth, we as workers will take control of the mines. This is what the striking mineworkers are saying. This is how the breaking of the alliance with the ANC govt will take place. This is the basis of replacing all the NUM shopstewards and its entire leadership, all Cosatu leaders, with worker leaders who support nationalisation under workers’ control.
WE ARE ALL MARIKANA STRIKERS! IF THE MINEWORKERS WIN, THEN WE ALL WIN!
LET US CALL FOR SOLIDARITY FROM THE MINEWORKERS ACROSS THE REGION FOR THE SAME DEMANDS! THE TIME HAS COME FOR THE FORMATION OF AN INTERNATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY WORKING CLASS PARTY! FORWARD TO SOCIALISM!