BRITS, August 10 – At a time the mining industry in South Africa is shedding jobs by the tens of thousands, five mining companies in Brits in the North West province have until August 14 to hire 5,000 people or risk face having their operations shut down by local communities.
According to Stats SA’s quarterly labour force survey, the number of people employed in the mining industry had dropped from 490,000 in 2005 to just 190,000 by the beginning of this year. The most recent shock was earlier this month when Impala Platinum, the world’s second-largest platinum miner‚ announced it was shutting five of its 11 mines and retrenching 13,000 employees.
South Africa’s unemployment rate stands at a 27,2 percent and shows little to no sign of easing.
Thabo Moemedi, 32, from Majakaneng, south of Brits, lost his job at the Crocodile Mine six years ago when the mine closed down. He has not worked since.
He was one of over 5,000 unemployed people bused in from different parts of Madibeng in North West to the Hernic and Crocodile mines outside Brits, as well as to Lonmin in Marikana, demanding each mining house must hire at least 1,000 people by August 14 or face having their mining operation completely shut down.
The marchers came armed with their CVs instead of placards, and handed these over, together with a two-page memorandum of demands.
They had planned to march to five mining companies, but only managed to make it to three, missing out on Eland and Bushveld Vametco mines. But the message was clear.
“I have not worked for the past six years, the mine closed down, the shaft is operating now but we are not been employed. I have the experience, I worked there before,” Moemedi said.
Villages, Townships and Small Dorpies (VTSD) Chamber of Commerce provincial chairman Robert Ngwenya, who led the march, said they wanted the mines to employ local people and also to implement the mining charter.
“We are saying, let’s start locally. We want people to be employed, number two, we want equal opportunities in the mines, we are not going to compromise on that, you give us the 30 percent and give us part of the shafts that we want in these mines because we are tired of being given small things and we are told they are empowering us. What we need is what is in the mining charter and they must implement that.”
He said they were demanding 1,000 jobs from each mining company and they expected the companies to tell them by Tuesday, how many people out of 1,000 they would be able to employ.
“We are demanding 1,000 jobs within 48 hours, we do not compromise. Where you get them we do not know, but we know we can assist you for these machinery to run quicker, production can flow when our brothers and sisters start working here.
“We are here to assist you with your production and employing these people, it means that you will be protected for the next coming years knowing that you have listened to us. And it means that you will continue employing them, and we will protect our minerals…”
The acting CEO at Hernic, Johan Swanepoel, received the memorandum and promised to respond to the demand within the stipulated 48 hours period.
“We take cognisance of your concerns, we also share your concerns with regard to the total unemployment, specifically in this part of South Africa. We acknowledge this memorandum, we are glad you give us up to Tuesday to respond to the memorandum, we will seriously consider the memorandum and as requested we will respond to the demand of the memorandum.”
Unemployed Forum leader Tshepo “Stepestepe” Molaole said they had done everything possible to secure jobs for locals in the mines but without success, and mass action was the last option to push the mines into employing locals.
– African News Agency (ANA)