Sibanye strike: How many more need to die, Mantashe?
Crisis needs a little more than this shabby, halfhearted, almost disinterested response from the government
The strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold mines is well into its fourth month. Nine people are dead in violence related to the action and more than 60 houses have been burnt.
And it’s only now that mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has visited the Carletonville area and asked for his cabinet colleague and police minister Bheki Cele to intervene. These are men who sit around a table at weekly cabinet meetings.
The strike started on November 21 in a burst of violence. Three people were killed during the intimidation and threats to enforce the strike called by Amcu.
Coincidentally or not, the strike was called by Amcu on the very day the Competition Tribunal gave conditional approval to Sibanye’s takeover of Lonmin where Amcu is the dominant union and opposes the transaction.
It’s not like the murders, arson, violence and intimidation are new. Business Day reported on January 21 of arson attacks on homes, one of which left an eight-year-old girl with severe burns.
In a three-sentence statement the department of mineral resources on Wednesday said there was “current instability” in Carletonville and the strike “has become violent”.
Mantashe has asked for Cele to intervene, the statement said, and that the police minister would “visit the area in the next few days”. There’s clearly a sense of urgency missing in the statement as well as a complete absence of what intervention or help Mantashe could offer to break the deadlock between Sibanye and Amcu. The union has threatened to spread the strike across the mining industry.
At Sibanye, 14,000 people are out of work on a protracted no-work no-pay strike that shows no signs of ending. Surely this needs a little more than this shabby, halfhearted, almost disinterested response from the government.