Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has appealed to a very disparate audience to solve one of the country’s thorniest problems.He moved closer to averting a potential crisis in the mining sector as he implored industry players to do everything they can in the push for stability in South Africa’s mining sector. Opening a meeting attended by mining bosses, unions, business as well as government ministers, in his brief remarks Motlanthe offered a fervent, hard case for why a stable mining sector was crucial for South Africa’s economic well-being. In May, President Jacob Zuma asked Motlanthe to lead discussions in the mining industry with a view to stabilising the environment ahead of annual wage talks and calming investor fears over labour unrest. South Africa’s mining industry is the backbone of the continent’s biggest economy and government is aware that any crisis in the sector can lead to devastating consequences for the economy. “We commit to work together to create work streams so that we can tackle our problems; we hope we can move with one spirit to solve these problems that we face.”
Friday’s meeting comes amid tensions between rival unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) over bargaining rights at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, in the North West.The government has committed to increasing police visibility in the area after two fatal shootings involving mineworkers were reported. After the Marikana tragedy which left 44 people dead, authorities are leaving nothing to chance and have pledged the two work together for the good of the country’s mining industry. “We are going to leave no stone unturned and will ensure that every problem is tackled and resolved,” said Motlanthe. Among those who attended the meeting at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, were Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele. Koos Bezedenhoud from Solidairty and AMCU led by Joseph Matunjwa with NUM led by General Secretary Frans Baleni also attended. Motlanthe is expected to brief the media on the outcomes of the meeting later in the afternoon when a declaration is also expected to be read out.