A sting from Cope on mining crisis

It has become difficult to separate a collective bargaining session to a shareholders meeting argues Cope MP D. A. Kganare. This is an edited version of the presentation made in the National Assembly and dated 30 October 2012.

Honorable Speaker;

Today’s subject of debate does not require any philosophical interpretation. There is no debate about the impact of these wildcat strikes. What is disheartening is the loss of life which accompanied it. The environment where everything is skewed towards what we can get rather than what we can give is at the core of the crisis. When we are more concerned about wealth distribution rather than wealth creation.

CONTEXT

Honorable Speaker, whilst these strikes have been spontaneous, violent and disruptive; the demands also seems to be ostensibly outrageous.

A collective bargaining regime where it is becoming difficult to manage industrial relations within the existing legal prescripts has been created. The loss of confidence by the workers in management and trade unions has created a space for cow boys within the workplace to try and display their short sighted objectives in order to make themselves relevant.

We have seen religious leaders, traditional leaders, politicians whose sell by date have expired all converging all over the place where these unprotected strikes mushroomed. The impression that the government, capital and the National Union of Mineworkers are colluding against the mine workers is not far fetched. These days, Honourable Speaker, it is very difficult when one observes the meeting between employers and trade union to discern whether this is collective bargaining or a shareholders’ meeting. BEE has just been rendered nothing but opium to the people.

When ordinary South Africans including mine workers see on our television screens:

1. How well connected lawyers and ex-convicts lobby to acquire a mining license for a big mining company. One wonders; who was lobbied? The President? The Minister? The Deputy Minister? An influential member of the African National Congress? Will the real lobbied politician please stand up?

2. When it is reported that these lobbying ex convicts become 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 sets aside the disqualified. When these happen and the government does nothing to enforce the law, we have reason to believe that we are now in the animal farm where others are more equal than others.

3. When mine workers sees Cynthia Carroll the recently resigned CEO of Anglo American get paid just more than R22 million for being the boss, which is an increase of 38%. As if this is not enough, she gets R850 000 for just being a non executive director of BP. To add salt to injury, she then gets R770 000 from Amplats as a non executive director. In the midst of this display of crass materialism, we are told that the workers’ demand is outrageous.

4. Not to be left behind, the commander of “concomitant action,” Mr Cyril Ramaphosa get more than R600 000 from Lonmin. With this Honourable Speaker, we now understand where the demand for concomitant action comes from. Whilst COPE doesn’t support the violence which is accompanying these wildcat strikes, one is left to wonder why this call never came when the Municipal Strikers were destroying innocent people’s property. Why was this call not made when patients were chased out wards during public sector strikes? Why was this call made when teachers were intimidating those who wanted to teach our children? I hope Honourable Speaker that the Ministers of mining and police will approach the Marikana Commission to explain what the concomitant action entailed?

Amongst all these, the silence of the South African Communist Party and its kow towing with the rich and famous is disconcerting.

ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS

The only losers from this crisis are ordinary South Africans. Treasury states that these strikes have dented the confidence about South Africa and has also lowered the growth prospects for the year. As a result of all this, tax revenue had to be revised downward. These wildcat strikes has cost the country more than an estimated R10 billion.

On the other hand, foreign direct investment flow to South Africa is 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?

Moody’s and Standard & Poors’ say that the reasons for downgrading South Africa is because of the government ‘ s “diminished capacity to handle its political and economic challenges”.

SOLUTIONS

Honourable Speaker, we need to look for solutions which are long term. The government’s call for bonus and top wage earner wage freeze is little more than a gesture. It can aptly be reffered to as a trivial emotional tool. It is unfortunate, Honourable Speaker, that logic and scientific arguments are foreign concepts to the ANC government . What appeals to them is emotion and hysteria.

At this moment, Honourable Speaker, we must pause and ask ourselves, what went wrong? The answer was provided by Honourable Minister Manuel during the Biko memorial lecture in 2008 when he said,” perhaps this happened because those who went into government lost their bearings and replaced everything we understood about social solidarity with a notion of cash transfers, more pensions, and grants”.

Despite all of this, what we need is to learn from post war Germany and Japan. We need to develop an implementable credible labour accord which has less conflict ridden approach to real market informed by wealth creation and distribution at the workplace. This requires a government which is not arrogant, which is intolerant of corruption and is vehemently opposed to nepotism. This government, should partner with capital which is trustworthy and can build the confidence and skills of its labour force whilst sharing equitably the product of labour.

Thank you.

 

 

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