Order! The last item on the Order Paper is a subject for discussion in the name of the hon J H van der Merwe on the current crisis in the mining sector and the detrimental effect it is having on South Africa. I am advised that Mr Mncwango will take charge of the motion.
As members are aware, there is currently a commission of inquiry into the Marikana matter. Members are requested to please be sensitive to this matter and not pre-empt the outcome of the commission. I now invite the hon Mncwango to the podium.
Hon Speaker, the IFP has actually asked this House, through its Chief Whip, to discuss this subject of national importance, that is: The current crisis in the mining sector and the detrimental effect it is having on South Africa. There are many causes and reasons for the widespread crisis within the mining sector. They reflect the causes and reasons of the much wider crisis within the rest of the country.
One of the causes relates to something that the IFP has been predicting for 15 years. We have created a monstrosity which is undermining the very fabric of the Republic. In a well-functioning democracy and open society, independent trade unions perform the function of an essential check and balance.
In the past weeks, there have been many calls for government intervention, or complaints about government's failure to intervene. These calls, in my view, are ill-conceived and misplaced. They arise out of the fact that the trade unions have been placed in a position of not performing their fundamental institutional function. Owing to the Labour Relations Act, which the IFP strenuously opposed, and the political arrangement between the ruling party and Cosatu, trade unions are now part of the government, part of management and part of the ownership of the mines.
How can we possibly think that they can represent the interests of the workers, and that the workers can legitimately feel protected by those who sit in the armchairs of government, in the shareholders' meetings of their industrial opponents and in the boardrooms of their employers against which they are advancing their claims? It is absurd indeed. It is unnatural, and it is bound to lead segments of workers into despair, extremism and radical action. Given enough time, the failure of trade unions to do their job has ushered in the present climate of lawlessness, violence and rebellion.
We need to redress the entire system by reforming the Labour Relations Act, and by empowering a government that is no longer caged and held to ransom by trade unions. We need to have new trade unions that do not own shares in any of the businesses in respect of which they are supposed to represent workers. Unless this is the case, it would be natural for workers to feel that trade unions are fornicating with them, in terms of the consent of the king, as far as they are concerned.
The present climate of tension and unreason within our mining industry will lead to the genesis of conditions out of which our own home-grown "perfect storm" will emerge, and its direct and indirect effects will have devastating consequences on our country.
Government must go back to the drawing board, and this mould of self- enrichment first and public benefit second must be stamped out at its point of origin. Our country can ill afford the merciless enrichment of the few at the expense of the many; a case in point being the few elites at the head of the ruling party's gravy train. Our people may be poor, our people may be ignorant for lack of access to education, our people may lack exposure to all that which is worldly and sophisticated, but our people are not stupid.
Our people have seen through the charade of black economic empowerment, la the ANC, and they are now angry about the squandering of vast state and private resources to enrich a few undeserving, incompetent and corrupt leaders. The mines are a case study of a much broader state of failure and corruption within black economic empowerment.
Huge amounts of private resources belonging to the mines have been set aside, and, to compensate for part of their value, public resources have also been set aside and both have been transferred to a small clique of undeserving black diamonds, with no benefit for the many communities who are bearing the daily brunt of the harsh conditions of one of the world's worst forms of employment.
By necessity or negligence or omission, mining pollutes the environment, threatens the health of vast communities and separates families across vast distances because of the migrant nature of its workers.
All this imposes untold human suffering on hundreds of thousands of people who not only need to carry their cross in silence, but must also bear the humiliation of seeing undeserving politicians, trade unionists and useless managers becoming richer and richer by the day because of so-called black economic empowerment. No wonder that they are as angry as hell. Who wouldn't be? I thank you.
Hon Speaker, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers present here, and hon members, firstly, let me convey our deepest condolences to the families of all those who passed away as a result of the recent tragedy at Lonmin in Marikana.
Sithi kwiintsapho zabo akuhlanga lungehlanga, lalani ngenxeba mawethu. [We send our condolences to the families of the deceased; may you be consoled.]
The ANC is entering this debate mindful of the fact that His Excellency President Jacob Zuma acted swiftly after this tragedy by immediately establishing a judicial commission of inquiry to probe all aspects of the Marikana tragedy. He further formed an interministerial committee to intervene in that situation. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, was also brought in to facilitate the resolution of the labour dispute. It helped the parties to end the violence through conclusion of the peace accord on 5 September 2012. We therefore call on all South Africans and interested parties to give this judicial commission of inquiry space and time to conduct its investigation without fear or favour.
The mineral resources in South Africa are common heritage and the endowment of all people of South Africa. The state has as its obligation to leverage the mineral resources to address the historical legacies of apartheid towards the full enjoyment of the benefits of the mineral resources for all South Africans, especially those whose labour was abused under the pretext that the fact that they were black and women automatically qualified them to be exploited.
If the goal of equitable access and the sharing of our mineral wealth is to be attained, then we require an honest and objective diagnosis of the crisis in the mining sector so that in our understandable expressions of horror and haste to address this problem, we do not, in fact, find that we are seized with mere manifestations of the problem. Perhaps we must begin our inquiry with the implementation of the Mining Charter by the mining industry.
The situation obtaining currently in the mining industry has to be viewed in the light of the abject poverty that is prevalent among communities surrounding the mines and in the light of income disparities in the industry. Critical interventions need to be made to transform the lives of miners, their labour-sending communities and the communities in the immediate surroundings of the mines. Many of the challenges in the mining industry would have been long resolved were it not for the reluctance of the mining bosses to execute the requirements of the charter, not the labour movement, hon Mncwango. The mining bosses need to rededicate themselves to implementing the charter, instead of investing their energies in undermining the established collective bargaining framework and protocols of the country. Let the mining bosses not offer and grant wage increases outside of the bargaining structures that are established through the collective bargaining system. Let us reflect briefly on what the Mining Charter seeks to achieve.
The Mining Charter is an important tool to effect transformation in the mining sector. Ten years ago, during this month, the charter was signed after consensus had been reached on its objectives. The objectives of the Mining Charter give expression to the equality aspirations which are enshrined in section 9(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996. They are enunciated in section 100(2) of the provisions of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act.
The objectives of the charter may be summarised as follows: firstly, to promote equitable access to the nation's mineral resources for all people of South Africa; secondly, to meaningfully extend opportunities to the historically disadvantaged individuals including women in order to benefit from the mineral endowment of the country; thirdly, to leverage the existing skills base for the empowerment of the historically disadvantaged individuals; fourthly, to expand the skills base for the benefit of the communities; fifthly, to promote employment and improve socioeconomic conditions of mining communities and their major sending areas; and, lastly, to promote beneficiation.
The charter sets crucial goals for transformation. For example, it targets 26% black ownership of mining assets by 2014. As with all other tools of the democratic state which are aimed at improving the lives of the historically disadvantaged individuals, it is to be expected that the implementation of the Mining Charter will continue to meet with resistance. The resistance will take different forms at different stages of the development of the transformation trajectory. It may even take the form of mining bosses exploiting the current mining instability to undermine the objectives of the charter.
Perhaps, this could take the form of rolling back the gains of the strategic stakeholder partners in the transformation path by sponsoring the emergence of new role-players. In all of this, we should not be distracted from addressing the seriously inadequate conditions which persist in the mines. Certainly, we should resist attempts by all and sundry to now find a new-found zeal and commitment to be voluntary shop stewards of the workers, often to the detriment of the collective gains of the established bargaining processes of the country.
It is common knowledge that the living conditions of the mineworkers are far from adequate. Even in instances in which the workers could use their meagre living-out allowance to choose relatively better accommodation, they tend to spend the allowance as part of their overall income and instead swell the ranks of shack-dweller communities with those that are eligible to join the housing lists of the promised state-funded housing, such as Reconstruction and Development Programme, RDP, housing.
Closely related to this is the phenomenon of the skyrocketing debt of the workers which is largely brought about by the high interest-bearing loans from unregulated "skoparis" and "mashonisas" [moneylenders] whose practices heap misery on those they purport to help by, amongst other things, withholding the identity documents of the borrower employees.
The recent strikes have not helped the situation as the workers have further sunk into debt as a result of their not earning an income over a considerable period of time. All of these are manifestations of a deeper underlying problem, namely that the salaries of the mineworkers - they who are the backbone of our economy - require serious attention. Of course, this too is not the essence of the problem. We all know the self-feeding orientation of the capitalist system. The following is an illustration of the minimum wages in the mining sector by commodity, as well as the average wage gap between the mining chief executive officers, CEOs, and the mineworkers as at 2012.
I hope that you will listen very carefully. When mineworkers talk of a poverty wage, they mean exactly what we are going to demonstrate to you. In the gold sector, the average salary earnings is R4 222 a month; in the coal sector, the average earnings of a general worker is R4 852; in the diamond sector, the average earnings is R6 540; and in the platinum sector, the average earning is R5 396 per month. Therefore, that gives you the average industry earning levels at R5 252. Meanwhile, the average earnings level of CEOs is R20,183 433. [Interjections.]
It doesn't matter whether net or gross; you can look at the disparities that we are pointing out here. As a further illustration of this point, the Lonmin rock drill operator, after the negotiations, earns a mere R11 078 a month. This translates to R132 936 per annum compared - listen very carefully - to a whopping R17 million received by the CEO in the year 2011 only. We can further demonstrate to you that the CEO of Anglo American Platinum earned R21,5 million in 2011 - one year. The CEO of AngloGold Ashanti in 2011 earned R27,8 million, and Goldfields' CEO earned R37,7 million. This is seriously obscene. That's why even the Gini coefficient has proclaimed us to be the most unequal society when it comes to earning levels.
We will continue to work towards greater alignment between the departments which experience job leakages in intersector flows. In this regard, we will realise better articulation and strategy co-ordination between the Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Trade and Industry. Equally, we will work towards coherent mineral governance between the various departments including the Departments of Mineral Resources, Trade and Industry, Public Enterprises, Science and Technology, and Economic Development. We will continue to explore existing best practices for effective, inclusive and accountable management of the procurement of mining rights. This will include consideration for professional granting, monitoring and evaluation of mineral concessions, which includes licensing. We will continue to conduct scientific research to assess the environmental impact of the prospecting operations.
In conclusion, we must commit to continually assessing the implementation of the charter, as we recently did. We must not hesitate to invoke the country's emerging policies, some of which I have cited above. We must insist on the full-scale implementation of the Mining Charter with consequences for noncompliance. We will invoke existing legislation to improve the conditions of miners, sending communities, as well as the South African community in general.
All these tools have the capacity to change course from the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment that we face in society in general and in the mining sector in particular. We will resist all attempts to be sidetracked by Johnny-come-lately, self-appointed spokespersons of the mineworkers of this country. We congratulate the labour unions, under the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers, NUM ... [Applause.] ... for having concluded a number of agreements with the Chamber of Mines that are aimed at adjusting the salaries of mineworkers and the reinstatement of the dismissed workers. We trust that these actions will bring about the necessary stability to the mining industry.
I think we must raise this in the House. Those who agree perhaps with what the hon Mncwango has raised here - that the unions are organisations that are self-centred that pursue their own narrow interests ... This is as a result of people who want to erase history; who have a short memory. If you understand where mineworkers come from ... during the dark days of apartheid even before the formation of the NUM, then you will know that they were treated more like dogs by the industry. They were not even paid starvation wages, but a slave's wages. Their conditions of employment were quite appalling, and the work of the unions, especially after the formation of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982, resulted in their dignity being restored as human beings in this country. [Applause.]
We must say that we must not have a short memory; even today, the mineworkers are earning much better than other workers in other sectors - comparatively speaking, I must emphasise - as a result of the toiling work that has been undertaken by the trade unions that are operative in the mining industry and their federation, Cosatu. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Speaker, I must place on record my disappointment in Minister Shabangu for not attending this debate. Our colleagues were speaking earlier about decorum in this House - how we need to preserve it.
I don't believe decorum in this House flows from whether we shout or not, or even whether we make frivolous motions or not. It stems from whether or not the government takes Parliament seriously enough by coming here when we are debating issues of national importance, to engage and to interact with Members of Parliament.
Nevertheless, the human cost of the Marikana tragedy and the continuing collapse of South Africa's mining industry are almost impossible to put into words. At Lonmin mine 44 people were killed and 78 wounded. This amounts to 128 families affected, 44 that no longer have fathers, uncles, brothers and sons. This means that 528 family members may permanently lose a source of income because of death, and a further 936 are vulnerable because of the ill health of the breadwinner. In the aftermath, 15 000 miners have been fired following wildcat strikes at a series of other mines. This has left 180 000 people vulnerable, again, without access to an income.
Marikana represented a failure of leadership on a massive scale - from the President all the way downwards. And we have to be honest with ourselves: this Parliament failed as well. The truth is that the tragedy at the Lonmin mine exposed far more than its proximate cause of union unrest. It also revealed the raw tissues of a broken society.
Ours is a President, after all, who craftily announces that his Cabinet's salaries will be temporarily frozen in response to the current crisis, and yet refuses to halt the R250-million upgrade of his private home. This is the time to speak the truth boldly and plainly, Mr Speaker. Our President's lack of moral urgency is a blot on the conscience of South Africa.
The Marikana tragedy was not, as some have suggested, just a random event. It forms part of a larger story of human loss. Adcorp has forecast that 200 000 jobs will be lost in the mining sector over the next decade. Two hundred thousand jobs! This will leave just under 2,5 million people vulnerable to life without access to an income. This doesn't even take into account the loss of dignity which accompanies being without work.
Since 1986, employment in the mining sector has declined by almost 38%, from just under 840 000 workers to just over half a million over a period when production has flat-lined. In a negative domino effect, the recent strike-related revenue losses have reached R3,3 billion. This equates to lost tax revenue of over R1,1 billion.
The DA acknowledges that there are no easy policy solutions. We will support this government if it sincerely seeks to address the deep human underlying issues and, at the same time, adopts measures to increase productivity.
In framing a new vision for the mining industry, the President and his government must recognise the need for a structural shift. We believe that the most urgent intervention must be to review all legislation that underpins the system of oscillating migration in the mining sector. Simply put: we need to introduce a more humane system of labour to help rebuild families and communities. We need to ensure that cash remittances get back to the many families in need in rural South Africa. And we must mitigate health risks amongst mine workers, especially HIV and Aids infections.
For too long public policy has been disjointed. Today we call for the immediate establishment of an ad hoc parliamentary committee to find solutions to address the problems which ail South Africa's mining industry. Unless we find solutions to these industry challenges, we can't raise work participation and reduce absenteeism, and we cannot make mining a more attractive industry in which people want to work and investors want to invest.
So, with the fierce urgency of now, we must fix the migrant labour system. We must establish a capable state with appropriate infrastructure, and we must build a shared national platform around social solidarity with fair work and fair pay for everyone. Thank you. [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, today's subject for debate does not require any philosophical interpretation. There is no argument about the impact of these wildcat strikes. What is disheartening is the loss of life which accompanied them. An environment in which everything is skewed towards what we can get rather than what we can give is at the core of the crisis. We are more concerned about wealth distribution than wealth creation. It is a given that the mining sector is going through a crisis, and pointing fingers will not, on its own, provide solutions. We are unable to talk about the crisis without untangling the context within which it is unfolding.
While the strikes have been spontaneous, violent and disruptive, the demands also seem to be ostensibly outrageous. This has created a collective bargaining regime in which it is becoming difficult to manage industrial relations within the existing legal prescripts. The loss of confidence by the workers in management and trade unions has created a space for cowboys within the workplace to try to display their short- sighted objectives in order to make themselves relevant.
We have seen religious leaders, traditional leaders and politicians, whose sell-by date has expired, converging all over the place where these unprotected strikes mushroomed. The impression that the government, the capital and the National Union of Mineworkers are colluding against the mineworkers is not far-fetched. These days it is difficult when one observes a meeting between employers and trade unions to discern whether it is a collective bargaining forum or a shareholders' meeting. Black economic empowerment has just been rendered nothing but an opiate for the people.
When ordinary South Africans, including mineworkers, watch television and see a well-connected lawyer and ex-convicts do what is called "a lot of political lobbying work" to acquire a mining licence for a big company, one wonders who was lobbied. Could it be the President, the Minister, the Deputy Minister, an influential member of the ANC's executive committee? Would the real lobbied person stand up?
When it is reported that these lobbying ex-convicts became directors of companies in contravention of section 218 of the Companies Act, which specifically disqualifies anyone who has been jailed for theft, fraud, forgery or perjury from being a company director - unless the High Court set aside the disqualification - and the government does not do anything to enforce the law, we have reason to believe that we are now an animal farm where some are more equal than others.
Mineworkers see Cynthia Carroll, the recently resigned CEO of Anglo American, get paid just more than R22 million for being the boss - an increase of 38%. As if that was not enough, she gets R850 000 for just being a nonexecutive director of British Petroleum, BP. To add insult to injury, she gets R770 000 from Amplats as a nonexecutive director. In the midst of this display of crass materialism, we are told that the workers' demands are outrageous.
Not to be left behind is the commander of "concomitant action", Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, who gets more than R600 000 from Lonmin. With this we now understand where the demand for concomitant action comes from. Whilst Cope does not support the violence which has accompanied these wildcat strikes, one is left to wonder why the call wasn't made when municipal strikers were destroying innocent people's property. Why was this call not made when patients were chased out of wards during the public sector strike? Why was this call not made when teachers were intimidating those who wanted to teach our children? I hope that the Minister of Mineral Resources and the Minister of Police will approach the Marikana commission to explain what the concomitant action entailed.
The only losers in this crisis are ordinary South Africans. Treasury states that these strikes have dented confidence in South Africa and have also lowered the growth prospects for the year. As a result, tax revenue had to be revised downwards. The wildcat strikes have cost the country more than an estimated R10 billion. On the other hand, foreign direct investment flows to South Africa are reported to have tumbled 43,6% in the first half of 2012. This is contrary to the trends on the continent. Whilst Africa is being viewed in a positive light, we are regressing. What are the reasons?
Ratings agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor say the reasons for downgrading South Africa are because of the government's diminished capacity to manage its political and economic challenges. I thank you. [Time expired.]
Hon Kganyago, as on previous occasions, I have doubled your speaking time. You now have two minutes. The floor is yours, sir.
Mr Speaker and hon members, the labour unrest in Marikana that has now spread throughout the mining sector is simply compounding concerns that South Africa is a lawless country.
Mining plays an important role in the South African economy. For instance, last year it accounted for approximately 10% of the gross domestic product, GDP. The platinum and gold-mining sectors alone employ more than 300 000 people. Apart from the job-creating labour-intensive nature of mining- sector operations, gold and other minerals are by far the largest single source of foreign exchange.
These factors place the mining sector at the centre of our economic heartbeat. If the mining sector fails to perform at optimum levels, South Africa fails with it. Therefore, the labour unrest in the mining sector and the resultant production stoppages cause untold damage to the South African economy.
Furthermore, the labour unrest in the mining sector laid bare the superficial nature of transformation in the industry. It is now clear that the black economic empowerment beneficiaries in the mining sector only serve as government liaison officers. In addition to the superficial BEE deals, the ripple effect of the Lonmin Mine wage settlement will go beyond the mining sector, as the Marikana crisis exposed frustrations over poverty and the danger of inequality in South Africa.
Whilst we have already seen the first-round effects of the mining unrest in the form of downgrades, it will take us years to quantify the untold damage this has caused to investor confidence in South Africa. I thank you.
Hon Groenewald, your speaking time has also been doubled. You have two minutes too, sir. The floor is yours.
Agb Speaker ... [Hon Speaker] ... I want to respond to the hon member of the ANC who complained about the huge salaries of CEOs in the mining industry, which is justifiable. But I want to say to the hon member of the ANC that there's at least one difference: in the mining sector the CEOs pay for their own houses. They don't use R250 million of taxpayers' money to build a house for the CEO of the ANC. That's a big difference.
Agb Speaker, ek wil ook s dat dit 'n onhoudbare situasie skep as 'n vakbond deel van 'n regering is. Dit is tog net logies dat daar bevoorregting en bevoordeling vir sodanige vakbond sal wees. Dit is presies wat gebeur, ook in die mynbounywerheid.
As daar bevoordeling is, dan begin daar ongelukkigheid ontstaan by ander werknemers juis as gevolg daarvan, en dan moet die regering van die dag instaan en pa staan vir daardie probleme. 'n Ander aspek wat ons moet oorweeg, is dat die mynbounywerheid 'n beperkte leeftyd in Suid-Afrika het. Ek woon in Stilfontein en ek weet wat die impak is as 'n goudmyn in 'n gemeenskap sluit.
Alles is gesentreer op die mynbounywerheid. Dit het tyd geword dat plaaslike regerings ander nywerhede moet vestig om weg te beweeg van die afhanklikheid op die mynbounywerheid, anders ... en ek weet dat die ANC- regering daaraan gewoond is om met sy broek om die knie gevang te word ... maar, hou op daarmee. Gee opdragte aan die stadsrade om ander nywerhede te ontwikkel sodat die mense nie die prys daarvoor moet betaal nie. Ek dank u. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Hon Speaker, I also want to say that an untenable situation is being created when a union is part of a government. Surely it is just logical that there will be favouring of and preferential treatment for such a union. That is precisely what is happening, and likewise in the mining industry.
If preferential treatment is given, then it leads to the start of unhappiness amongst other workers for that very reason and the government of the day has to intervene and accept responsibility for those problems. Another aspect that we have to consider is that the mining industry has a limited lifespan in South Africa. I live in Stilfontein and I know what the impact is when a goldmine in a community closes down.
Everything is centred on the mining industry. The time has come for local government to establish other industries in order to move away from dependence on the mining industry, otherwise ... and I know that the ANC is used to being caught with its pants down ... but that has to stop. Issue directives to the city councils to develop other industries so that the people do not have to pay the price for it. I thank you.]
Hon Speaker, I must say that I am disappointed with the previous speaker - who, according to me, is a very important leader in his party - who said that it's justifiable that other people should earn millions when African labourers are earning something that cannot be compared to what they earn. It's really ridiculous. I must say that I am really disappointed, particularly when it comes from a person who was a beneficiary of the old system ...
Agb Speaker, op 'n punt van orde. [Hon Speaker, on a point of order.]
There's a point of order.
Agb Speaker, ek wil weet of dit toelaatbaar en binne die Rels is dat 'n spreker presies die teenoorgestelde s van dit wat 'n ander spreker ges het? Ek het ges dit is "justifiable to complain about it". Dit lyk my die agb lid verstaan nie en ek wil weet of dit aanvaarbaar is? (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Mr P J GROENEWALD: Hon Speaker, I would like to know whether it is permissible and in accordance with the Rules that a speaker should say exactly the opposite of what another speaker has said? I said that it was justifiable to complain about it. It appears to me that the hon member does not understand and I would like to know whether this is acceptable?]
Thank you very much. That is a point of debate, but it is noted. Proceed, hon member.
I would like to invite the hon Groenewald to listen to a song called Stimela, composed by Hugh Masekela, which talks about the conditions that mineworkers in the past found themselves in. That song is relevant even today, because the compound system and the food that workers are eating are really out of this world, and actually unimaginable. This makes me think that the cold, dead hand of apartheid is still strangling our people. You see that very well in the mining sector.
Here I define apartheid as rule by monopoly capital with open-race terror, and those who had their eyes and ears open during the war for liberation in this country will know what I am talking about when I refer to open-race terror. [Interjections.]
The history of industrial relations in the mining sector is not a pleasant one by any stretch of the imagination. Whilst it can be argued that the mining sector in South Africa was the foundation on which this economy was founded and continues to be the backbone of the South African economy, the industry does not seem to have moved with the times. A number of commentators lament the fact that beneficiating our mineral exploits is nowhere near what it should be. The same could be said about the general industrial relations environment in the sector.
Despite attempts created by democracy to promote the democratisation of the workplace, the new political democracy in South Africa is not reflected in the workplace, particularly in the mining sector.
A survey, based on a sample of 23 000 South African employees, confirms that workplaces are still controlled by employers who are interested in profit and often couldn't care less about the wellbeing of employees. This was demonstrated well by the hon Gona, with the disparities in what workers earn and what the CEOs of these companies are earning. This shows that there are still poor working conditions, job insecurity and lack of employee involvement in decision-making processes.
The workplace is becoming exceedingly adversarial, with workers finding themselves in a perpetual fight for survival. This places an enormous amount of pressure on the trade unions. This pressure often leads to strikes, with or without the sanction of the trade union leadership. More and more workers consider a strike as their only weapon to counter the power of the employer. The tension between the interests of maintaining profitability and the demands of workers for a living wage has reached a critical point in the history of industrial relations in this country.
The South African mining industry is worth R357 billion, is the largest on the African continent, employs many people and contributes a sizeable portion to the gross domestic product, GDP. On the painful side, though, are the high levels of fatalities which continue to afflict South Africa. The commission of inquiry into safety and health in the mining industry, headed by Judge Ramon Leon, reported in 1995 that some 69 000 people were killed in South Africa's mining industry in the 20th century, with one million seriously injured, maimed and physically damaged workers.
Mr Godsell made the point that the mining costs to the country in blood and human life was so great that it deserved to be commemorated at the level of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. We should recognise each victim by name. This is not a story to be proud of, surely?
To answer the hon Mazibuko: the number of people who die in South African mines is very high, but we cannot forget those who died some years ago and only remember those who have died now. The loss of life is a very hurtful thing to us as the ANC, and we will never forget that there are people who died making the rich even richer in this country. [Interjections.]
Although the CEOs of South African mining companies have determined that 2013 will be the year in which South Africa's mine safety is brought on par with mine safety in industrialised countries like Canada, the US and Australia, the author of Falling Ground, a book on mining safety, Dr Philip Frankel, has expressed scepticism that the 2013 safety target will be attained, let alone sustained. We are still very far from this because there is no commitment from the mining magnates to make sure that peoples' working conditions are improved.
The lack of transformation and huge income inequalities as they exist in the mining industry make one cringe at the old doctrine in mining that says: Extract most at the least cost. You have shareholders who invest their money in mining operations, while workers risk their lives on the other hand. Some of these workers who work on the mines live in squalor and in shacks. If you go to Marikana, where I was a few weeks ago, you'll see that the people who work on the mines live in a shantytown. There is a squatter area just next to the mine and you can see, even when looking at the children who live in that area, that they are undernourished, health facilities ... I mean, people don't have access to anything that will make their lives better. This reflects on a line in Masekela's song which says: "Sixteen hours or more a day for almost no pay". [Time expired.] [Applause.]
I now wish to invite the hon Mfundisi. Your speaking time has also been doubled, sir. You have two minutes. The floor is yours.
Hon Speaker and hon members, the absolute squalor in which miners live is not only an indication of the salaries they earn, but also of government's failure to realise the constitutional rights of the citizens, such as the rights to housing, clean water, sanitation and health care.
It is unfortunate that the present democratic government, just like the previous one, promotes the notion of cheap unskilled labour. The latest BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index, released last week, shows that the ongoing strikes are pushing the South African economy closer to recession, much against what we were told last week by the Minster of Finance when he presented his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, in that the issue of recession would not take place here. But watch out!
The strikes are symptomatic of a larger, more systemic fault line within the South African political economy. However, the larger issue is that business is going to find itself increasingly dealing with frustration and often unrealistic demands, which may actually reflect something much larger that their immediate work circumstances.
South Africa's economic inequality shows up repeatedly as amongst the worst in the world, and it is getting worse instead of better. The situation will increasingly put pressure on government, labour and business to come up with a long-term social contract for South Africa. The mining crisis requires all stakeholders to put aside their narrow interests and to focus on a more sustainable socioeconomic model. Let us hope that at the end of the day, the threesome will come together and find one another. I thank you.
I now wish to invite the hon Mphahlele. Hon Mphahlele, your time has also been doubled. You have two minutes. Please proceed, sir.
Hon Speaker, Marikana was a timely wake-up call for the country. There will always be these outbursts of discontent if political power is not complemented with economic power. Who owns the means of production in this country? Who manages the wealth of Azania and in whose interest? Surely, the indigenous Africans are spectators in the game of the economy in general, and mining in particular.
Those with political connections are flaunting their wealth with obscenity as they bid for buffaloes and build palaces amid grinding poverty. This political connectedness has even poisoned the labour movement as some unions think they are more equal than others - the curse of a republic gone bananas.
The PAC believes now is the time to redistribute the wealth, mines included, in favour of the African majority, especially the African youth.
Kumaqabane am aphetheyo e-ANC, yekani ukukhala nokukhalaza. Nathi mhla nigaya iivoti nathi nifuna ukuphatha eli lizwe. Niliphethe njani xa nikhalaza kunye namaqela aphikisayo? Nikhala ngamaGosa aziNtloko zesiGqeba nemivuzo yawo, nikhala ngokuthi abantu bayahlupheka, kanti la mandla ezopolitiko nenza ntoni ngawo? Nenza imfeketho ngala mandla ezopolitiko? Nifana namacephe aphethe ukutya kanti aphethwe ngokuba amandla ezopolitiko asingomandla okuhombisa njengokuba nihombisa ngawo. Enkosi. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[To my fellow comrades from the governing party, the ANC, I say, stop moaning. When you campaigned for votes, you said you wanted to rule this country. How can you be in power and yet complain in the same vein as the opposition parties? You complain about the salaries of chief executive officers and the fact that people live in poverty: What are you doing with the political power you have been given? You are misusing it. You are like puppets on strings because the political power you wield is for window- dressing. Thank you.]
I now wish to invite the hon Dikobo. Your speaking time has also been doubled, hon member. You have two minutes.[Interjections.] Order, hon members! Order!
Hon Speaker, hon members, Azapo wants to be sure what crisis we are talking about. For us the crisis did not start in the past few months. The problem we have is that mineworkers continue to be exploited. They work under unbearable conditions. They live and stay in subhuman conditions. To top it all, they are still being paid starvation wages. Mineworkers have by and large been abandoned by their trade unions, as trade union leaders are involved in the kind of politics that have nothing to do with the wellbeing of workers.
We have read and heard about union leaders colluding with mine bosses in deciding how to deal with the workers. Collective bargaining has taken a knock, because workers have lost confidence in their own leaders and they have created parallel leadership structures. That is the crisis that we have in the mining sector. The strikes that we have now are a response to the problem that mineworkers have faced from time immemorial.
Azapo condemned and continues to condemn the violence that has accompanied some of the strikes, including the cold-blooded murder of workers at Marikana.
The Good Book tells us that we will eat from the sweat of our own brows. The bosses are eating from the sweat of the workers. The workers are singing now: Asiyifuni i-ajenda yama-capitalist. [We do not want the capitalist agenda.] The workers are singing now: Kudala sisebenzela amabhunu, basebenzi masihlanganeni [We have worked so long for the Boers, let us unite as workers.].
The bosses might have become darker, but some of them are equally ruthless. That is the crisis we have. The crisis we have is that communities that have mines around them are poor and they don't benefit from the wealth that is in their communities. That is the crisis. Now the strikes that we see are just a sign of what has been happening. That is not the crisis in our view. We thank you.
Mr Speaker, if we are to end the turmoil in our mining industry, we need a proper conversation as to why it came about. If we are to send our people home with pay packets rather than termination notices, we need to understand what went wrong and we need to fix it.
Instead of accepting that we need to change the way things work, some major role-players, as we heard from the government this afternoon, currently seem to be intent on doing what they did before, only more of it.
I have three points that I believe should be part of this conversation that we should be having. Firstly, the cosy relationship between a big government, big mining and big unions doesn't work. It ignores different circumstances at different mines, it stops pay increases for skilled workers because a pay increase then has to be given to everybody else, and it crushes minority unions and stirs rivalry because the system is one where the winner takes all.
Secondly, the culture of striker impunity must end. There must be consequences for violent lawbreaking. For too long striking Cosatu workers have had an effective licence to kill. People who have chosen not to go on strike have been murdered and nobody gets arrested.
The police appear reluctant to act against Cosatu, perhaps because to do so would be a career-limiting move. This was amply demonstrated when the DA marched on Cosatu House. Cosatu members threw rocks and the police shot teargas at the DA.
Significantly, the first time there was a major use of force by the police against strikers was at Marikana when those strikers were not acting under the instruction of Cosatu.
Thirdly, all three components of the tripartite alliance continually tell people that the mine owners are evil capitalists who do not pay mineworkers more money because they are greedy. If, like ANC members on the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources, you accuse mining companies of raping South Africa's resources and if, like the National Union of Mineworkers, NUM, you accuse mining companies of genocide and of not paying them fairly, then is it any surprise that the workers eventually say the agreements their union signed with management are illegitimate? They then go on strike and they are prepared to back that strike with force.
We are only just beginning to see the full, sad consequences of all this. New investment has stopped, jobs are being lost, and more will be lost. South Africa is not seen as a good place to put your money in mining.
Government spokespersons can wail all they want about what The Economist magazine said, but that is an international perception. And, I believe, The Economist was spot on when it said: "Marikana should be a wake-up call to the government, but South Africa's leaders, engrossed by factional infighting, are deaf." How can we have a conversation if government is not listening? [Applause.]
Speaker, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers, hon members, guests and friends and, most importantly, my fellow South Africans, this Fourth Parliament cannot talk on the tragedy that occurred at Marikana other than to offer our sincere condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives.
Three hundred and sixty years ago, my ancestors arrived in this beautiful country, and some of them got it into their heads that the minerals that lay beneath our soil were more important than the loved ones that lived above it. Some of you may think that the thing that divides us as South Africans is the colour of our skin. The truth is that there are only two types of people in this wonderful country: the haves and the have-nots.
Che Guevara said:
The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality. We must strive every day so that this love of the living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.
The fact that we, as South Africa, moved from an apartheid regime into a democratic country, without a civil war, illustrates fundamentally that all South Africans have a great love for one another. Love conquered hate, but love did not conquer the lust for wealth and power. It is the lust for wealth that has created material conditions in our beloved country, where millions of husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters believe that they have nothing to lose. It is the lust for power that has enabled individuals to try to gain political points through the suffering of others. These individuals are prepared to risk desperate people's lives for their own gain, and should not be trusted.
Many changes have occurred within South Africans since 1994. All of these changes relate to how we see each other as South Africans; how we relate to one another as human beings. Love conquers hate. The only change the people who lust for wealth have made is partial compliance with legislation. There has been no real effort made by them to build our glorious country. It is business as usual. People who lust for wealth have not contributed in any way to the South African moral authority which stems from the love we have for one another as human beings.
What are we, as South Africans, going to do about employers that risk their workers' lives by not adhering to safety legislation? Are we going to just sit around and do nothing when employers undermine communication mechanisms, like collective bargaining and collective agreements, in the hope that it will make them a few extra bucks? Are we going to continue pretending that all is well and, by doing so, leave the situation for our children to fix?
Section 10 of the Bill of Rights states, "Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected." We are at a crossroads not of our making. It is time to unite our love of humanity into a moving force that will change the real conditions on the ground so that everyone can live with dignity.
Annually, South Africa produces around 2,7 million ounces of platinum at a selling price of around R13 500 per ounce. That translates into a staggering value of platinum being at around R35 797 million in one year. One wonders why it is then that the communities around where this valuable resource is mined are underdeveloped. To focus only on the platinum producers, however, would be unfair. So, South Africa, ask yourselves why it is that throughout the country, where those who lust for wealth make their biggest profits, most of the workers that do the actual work live in adverse conditions.
Now, I know that some of you are thinking that the government must fix this; that you pay your taxes and that that contribution should be enough, because this situation is not really your problem. The truth is that this situation is everyone's problem. As South Africans, we are a collective. We are the ones who are the custodians of our children's future. If we blunder and abandon our responsibility to create a caring society, our children will suffer.
Those that put the lust for wealth above the love of humanity are letting us down, and they are threatening our future. It is time for them to realise that we have a stable democracy that allows their lustful pursuit of wealth to flourish, but it will not last unless everyone flourishes.
As one tribe, we South Africans must ask: Why is there such a big gap between the rich and the poor? Why are members of our South African tribe suffering with underdevelopment and inequality, while others are benefiting from human exploitation?
It was on our watch that the tragedy at Marikana occurred - not just government, not just business. We, as a society, must take responsibility. It is our collective South African fault that circumstances allowed a tragedy of this magnitude to happen.
South Africa, the time to act is upon us; the time to show through practical deeds that our love for one another can and will defeat the lust for wealth. To build a caring society, society must care. We, as South African society, must express our caring by acting in an exemplary way for the benefit of all. We, as one South African tribe, need to change the way some of our brothers and sisters are treated.
Tomorrow, let us all lead by example, and begin the transformation of our society into a caring one. Let us make it so that the tragedy in the mining sector will be seen by our children as the beginning of a better life for all, because working together we can do more. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr Speaker, hon members, I do want to thank each one of you who participated in this debate on this very important matter. Indeed, it is clear from your input that this country is actually in a crisis as far as the mining industry is concerned.
Mines are oases in which billions of rand in precious metals and other mineral resources are being produced. Yet, they are surrounded by oceans of poverty and squalor, as many of you have confirmed, which none of the black economic empowerment, BEE, programmes has yet addressed. The country is on fire, and we think we are able to extinguish these fires merely by talking about them in Parliament.
It would be normal for one to close a debate of this nature by patting Parliament on the back on how good we have been to spend an hour of our time speaking about the sufferings of others. However, if that is all we do, we will have but added insult to injury. Too often, this Parliament thinks it can satisfy its responsibility of addressing our country's worst problems merely by talking about them or passing a resolution. None of this is enough at all. If the closing of this debate is the end of this Parliament's commitment to addressing the issues debated today, Parliament will have failed all those who have placed their expectations on our collegial leadership.
We must expect the Portfolio Committees on Minerals and Energy, Labour, Police, and Trade and Industry to take heed and guidance from this debate and formulate legislative measures and administrative guidance capable of going to the root of the problems. This they can do by urgently reforming our Labour Relations Act, our black economic empowerment, our Police Service training and the procedure they apply for crowd control, the regulatory conditions which guarantee the health, safety and welfare of miners, and the entire system of migrant mineworkers.
The IFP reiterates and supports the call for a mining commission to be established to assess and review the working of all the mines in South Africa, focusing on the role of the investors, the economic contributions and the socioeconomic conditions of miners, and also to enhance the working charter on the issues of transformation. Ngiyabonga. [Thank you.]