Schlagwort-Archive: industry

Ubuntu in Germany Column

Whites only as South Africa exhibits at Anuga in Cologne

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

It was like a throwback to Apartheid days. Visitors to the South African pavilion of the Anuga trade show, held in Cologne recently saw a sea of white faces. What has happened in South Africa since ’94 and with black empowerment? One single black person among the 40 exhibitors – that is shameful.

© Alex Smit-Stachowski with Doris Lily Mallaun of Great Heart of Africa behind her, at the Anuga Trade Show in Cologne.

© Alex Smit-Stachowski with Doris Lily Mallaun of Great Heart of Africa behind her, at the Anuga Trade Show in Cologne.

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Exklusiv-Story: Ein Minenarbeiter packt aus

„Es muss so schnell wie möglich eine Lösung gefunden werden“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Akanyang Merementsi ist Minenarbeiter und Blogger aus der südafrikanischen Provinz North West. Er lebt in Rustenburg. Dem Ort, an welchem das “Massaker” gegen 34 Minenarbeiter begangen wurde. Er war bei den tragischen Ereignissen nicht dabei, kennt aber viele der Leute persönlich. Akanyang untermauert, dass die Arbeiter mehr Geld wollen. Hingegen fühlen sich viele Minenarbeiter nicht mehr durch die Minengewerkschaft NUM angemessen repräsentiert. Es wird vor Ort befürchtet, dass andere Minenarbeiter sich den Protesten in Marikana & Rustenburg anschließen könnten. Diese Solidaritätsbewegung befürwortete Julius Malema, der einstige ANC-Jugendliga-Präsident. Die unangenehme Situation der gegenwärtigen südafrikanischen Bergwerkindustrie erinnere an die 70/80er-Jahre. Einige Minenarbeiter sehen gar einen direkten Vergleich zwischem dem Marikana-Massaker 2012 und dem Sharpeville-Massaker von 1960. Akanyang beklagt, dass niemand die Verantwortung für die Geschehnisse tragen möchte. NUM und AMCU schieben sich gegenseitg die Schuld zu. Auch die Rolle der Polizei könne nicht abschließend bewertet werden. Offiziell hat die Polizeibehörde SAPS das Verhalten der Beamten als Selbstverteidigung deklariert. Die gegenwärtigen Untersuchungen – ausgehend von einer durch Präsident Zuma eingesetzten Kommission und die der polizeilichen Innenrevision „Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)“ – werden den tragischen Vorfällen auf den Grund gehen. Mittlerweile streiken nicht nur die Minenarbeiter, sondern auch deren Ehefrauen und die Lokalgemeinschaften. Auf die Frage hin, ob er Vergeltungsangriffe der Minenarbeiter auf die Polizei befürchte, konnte Akanyang keine Einschätzung dessen abgeben. Der Interviewte betont, dass eine Lösung so schnell wie möglich her muss. Grundsätzliche Entlassungen des Bergbaukonzerns Lonmin würden die bestehende Situation nur verschlimmern. Der gegenwärtige Ruf des Managements lässt sich auf die reine Profitgier reduzieren; die hart arbeitenden Minenarbeiter finden umso weniger Beachtung. Minenarbeiter verdienen mit 4.000 Rand zu wenig, damit es zum Leben ausreicht. Dieser Verdienst soll jedoch nach dem Willen der Belegschaft auf 5.000 bis 12.000 Rand angehoben werden – also eine Verdreifachung. Dabei handelt sich um die Minenarbeiter in vielen Fällen um sogenannte „Rock Drill Operators“, also unter Tage hart ackernde Bohrer. Die Arbeit der in Rivalität zueinander stehenden Minengewerkschaften NUM und AMCU bezeichnet der Minenarbeiter als „chaotisch“. Mittlerweile verliert NUM zunehmend mehr Mitglieder an AMCU.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – the Rustenburg miner Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, as a miner you are following the current developments in your home province North West very closely. How could this escalation happen?

Answer: Workers want money and they might go to whatever extent at their exposal to go and get it. At least there were not any destruction to (public) properties by strikers.

The fact that they felt leaderless – after apparently abandoning NUM because it no longer cared about their needs – may have contributed to what we have since the strike started on Aug 10.

From media reports coming live that area as I am far from it – it is likely that this will take longer. There are fears that other mine workers around the area will join in in „solidarity“ as they were advised by expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema on 18 Aug.

But it is doubtful if they would given the many dead bodies they had witnessed themselves as a result. Some are also suggesting that what happened at Lonmin’s Marikana operations is like to be witnessed at other mining operations not only around the Rustenburg but country wide. But that remains to be seen.

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some media are talking about a state of “civil war”. Are you sharing this view?

Answer: Some have called it a „massacre“ while others have, as you suggest, seen it as a „civil war“ not only between mine workers and their employers.

It is an unpleasant situation that was apparently last seen in the 70s and 80s – one situation many have since likened to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Who bears the blame for the situation?

Answer: There are finger pointing at the moment and no one seems to take responsibility for what happened especially among the unions as to what led to the strike in the first place.

Majority union at Lonmin, NUM, blames its rival, AMCU and the later denies its involvement in having made the strikers even angrier.

As for the shooting on Thursday, the police are yet to admit their actions were wrong. This as National Police Commission has repeatedly defended the police services‘ shooting at the strikers, saying their (police) lives were in danger and therefore they had acted in self-defence.

On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry which will try and get to bottom of what actually had transpired during the shooting. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is also said to have announced its own investigation that „will seek to establish if the police action was proportional to the threat posed by the miners“.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is the mood among the miners?

Answer: Media reports quote many miners saying they will continue to strike until their demands are met. Even their wives and local community women had joined in in solidarity, accusing the mine of not treating strikers like human beings. According to a Mail & Guardian Online report, the miners said they will regroup and have a meeting again on Aug 20.

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are you expecting revenge on the cops?

Answer: That is difficult to say. They may want to revenge because, say, their colleagues were killed for nothing except that they only wanted their wage demands met. So I can’t say with certainty as couldn’t the police whether the remaining miner workers would revenge their colleagues deaths or not.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do the miners of Lonmin fearing now a wave of mass layoffs?

Answer: There haven’t been any reports that there will be lay-off yet. I think what is important now is that a solution must be found as soon as possible, and if there are lay-off plans, those will be discussed at a later stage but now when over 50 people have just been shot at, with over 75 being wounded.

Any suggestions of lay-off now will not only be miscalculated but that it might escalate the situation to more than what had been seen in the mining industry. That would also reinforce the perception that the Lonmin management does not want to give salary increases because they are only looking at their profits and own pockets and not the hard working miners‘.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is a mine worker earning on average per month in South Africa?

Answer: It will be difficult to give an average of generally what mine workers earn. Remember just early this year the same category of workers had embarked on a strike at Impala demanding a take home of about R9000.00 because they claimed their take home of about R4000.00 was not enough. Now Lonmin’s Rock Drill Operators also reportedly want their take home to be increased from R4000 or R5000 to R12000.

Besides, you cannot get an average of how much miners earn because their categories of work are not the same.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are wage demands by 200 percent really justified?

Answer: Only they (Lonmin strikers) can say whether that is justified or not.

Importantly, no Lonmin/Impala or any other platinum mining company would operate without Rock Drill Operators – especially when we talk of production.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How do you evaluate the work of trade unions NUM and AMCU?

Answer: Their status are in shambles.

NUM is gradually losing membership to AMCU and the latter seems to be dominating – but without the bargaining power at Lonmin – and gradually taking over the mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Thank you very much for this interview. Hope the mining sector in South Africa will get ASAP a sufficient solution on this crisis.

Sarah Britten in interview

„The poor who rely on service delivery by the government will suffer most.“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Sarah Britten ist in Deutschland weitgehend unbekannt. In Südafrika zählt sie zu den Who’s Who der nationalen Blogger- und Journalistenszene. Eigentlich kommt sie aus der Werbebranche und analysierte für ihre Doktorarbeit die nationale Identität Südafrikas aus der ökonomischen Perspektive heraus. Dementsprechend hält Sarah Britten fest, dass das Multikulti-Konzept in Südafrika besser funktioniere als in den USA oder Australien, wenn es beispielsweise um die muslimische Gemeinde geht. Zwar steht dem Land noch viel Arbeit bevor, doch verbinden eine gemeinsame Nationalflagge, Verfassung und Braai das Volk. Die infolge der Kriminalität ausgelöste Abwanderungswelle von mehrheitlich gut ausgebildeten Südafrikanern weißer Hautfarbe, welche als „brain drain“ bezeichnet wird, begegnet die Journalistin mit einer zu beobachtenden Gegentendenz. Denn zunehmend mehr Bürger kehren in ihre Heimat zurück. Die Regierung ist nun in der Pflicht, die Arbeitsbedingungen – vor allem für medizinisches Personal – zu verbessern und die Ursachen der Kriminalität anzugehen. Presse- und Meinungsfreiheit in Südafrika sieht Sarah Britten durch die geplanten Regulierungsvorhaben seitens der Regierung als nicht ausrangiert an, sondern eher als eingezwängt. Sie betont, dass die größten Leidtragenden der Secrecy Bill die Armen selbst sein werden. Deutschland besuchte Sarah Britten im Oktober 2011, wobei ihr Berlin sehr gefallen hat und sie diesen Ort auf Basis ihrer Erfahrung als beste Stadt für Touristen bezeichnet. Gegenwärtig bloggt sie für das renommierte südafrikanische Online-Medium Mail & Guardian.

© Sarah Britten, blogger, journalist and book author. She is also a blogging member of Thought Leader from Mail & Guardian.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“, the German Gateway to South Africa, Ms. Dr. Sarah Britten – blogger, journalist and book author.

You completed your PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand with focus on new national identity in South African advertising industry. Is South Africa counting to the successful multicultural societies?

Answer: We have our problems but for the most part we muddle through. In one respect, we manage multiculturalism far better than most: unlike other nations, Muslims are one of our many communities and are not seen as a threat as they are in the US or Australia.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How would you describe South African identity? Does it exists?

Answer: South Africa is very diverse and we have a long history of division between groups. So we have had to work hard to find something we have in common. We have our flag, which is a very important symbol of the nation. There is the braai – our version of the barbecue – which is now celebrated as National Braai Day on September 24. And there are other aspects of life that only people who are South African or who live in South Africa will understand: minibus taxis, biltong, robots (traffic lights) and so on.

We also have our constitution, which celebrates its 15th birthday this February. This document is the bedrock of our democracy and I have worked closely with Media Monitoring Africa on the strategy for a campaign we are launching soon. We will be asking ordinary South Africans to publicly declare their support for our constitution, as a nation-building exercise.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South African media are reporting constantly about the brain drain phenomena, which means, that well-trained South African citizens – especially whites – are emigrating to UK, Australia oder New Zealand. How should government counteracting to this challenge?

Answer: The brain drain dominated public discourse in the earlier part of the 2000s, but in the wake of the recession, some South Africans returned. In general, government needs to improve working conditions, especially for medical staff. The underlying factors that drive emigration – mainly crime – have been there for a long time. To address crime is no simple matter, because it means tackling the root causes,  poverty and a culture of lawlessness, as well as improving policing and the criminal justice system. Affirmative action policies have also been cited as reasons driving skills from the country.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are blogging on Thought Leader, an editorial group blog of quality commentary and analysis from Mail & Guardian. Thought Leader is known as a thought-provoking forum. Do you think, that the freedom of speech & press freedom could be scrapped by the South African government (e.g. by Secrecy Bill)?

Answer: Freedom of speech and press freedom won’t be scrapped, but they will be constrained. The Secrecy Bill will have implications far beyond the media. Because it will make it more difficult for civil society to have oversight of state activities, especially corruption, it will impact all aspects of life. The poor who rely on service delivery by the government will suffer most.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How would you characterize your profession as journalist and blogger? Which aims are you following with your editorial writings?

Answer: Blogging is quite different from journalism. Because it isn’t paid, I write about whatever I feel like – anything from politics to lifestyle – and I don’t spend as much time crafting it because I can’t justify it. Journalism, because I get paid for it, requires getting quotes from sources, checking facts, and crafting.

Both blogging and journalism are sidelines for me, as my main source of income is communication strategy and social media.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What kind of perception do you have from Germany and German literature?

Answer: I visited Germany in October last year – Bonn and Berlin – and enjoyed my time there. There is so much culture and history, and Berlin is the best city for tourists I have ever visited. I would recommend it to anyone. Interestingly enough, my first book was translated into German! I don’t think we see enough German literature here in South Africa. I know German literature through my university comparative literature studies, and German philosophy has had an immense impact on Western thinking.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which further dreams would you like to realize, especially in editorial and literary context?

Answer: I have many projects in the pipeline – too many in fact. I would like to publish more serious fiction, as well as non-fiction and commercial crime fiction. I will be kept busy for a long time to come!

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Sarah Britten – blogger, journalist and book author – thank you very much for this interview.