Zuma urges Marikana strikers to end dispute
South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has appealed to striking miners to return to the negotiating table with their UK-listed employer Lonmin which has warned 40,000 jobs could go if it cannot resume production soon.
Mr Zuma welcomed the signing of a “peace accord” this week between Lonmin and unions whose members work at its Marikana platinum mine, where 34 men were gunned down by police last month in the culmination of a violent strike over wages.
But he lamented the refusal by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) – which represents most of the strikers – to sign the accord because, they say, it fails to address their demands for better pay.
“We would like to see a resolution of the stalemate between the workers and their employer as soon as possible so that the situation can return to normalcy,” Mr Zuma told an audience in Kimberley, Northern Cape.
“We encourage all parties to conclude the Peace Accord in order to move forward with the negotiations.”
Mr Zuma also hit out at politicians with “ulterior motives” who sought to “hijack” the labour dispute at Marikana for their own ends.
Julius Malema, the expelled ANC youth leader, has laid the blame for the Marikana strikes at the door of Mr Zuma’s administration, claiming that as shareholders in the mines, it has little interest in upholding the rights of workers.
Mr Zuma said it was imperative that the mines adhered to government guidelines on how to treat workers. Lonmin has set a deadline of Monday for workers to return to work, ending the four-week strike.
Meanwhile, a survivor of last month’s killings has claimed police shot fleeing and surrendering men.
Malusi King Danga, 27, suggested at least three victims were shot either hiding or fleeing from police, or surrendering to them. He said: “People starting running and police fired a shot. I was running away in the opposite direction and police chased me and said ‘Go back to where you came from’.”
“I was so desperate. I didn’t know where to go. Police circled the boulders. We were trapped. I crouched and hid myself under one of the rocks,” he said.
A police spokesman said he could not comment, pending a government inquiry.
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