„Es muss so schnell wie möglich eine Lösung gefunden werden“
(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)
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.
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.
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.
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.