Members proposed that an Ad Hoc Committee be established by Parliament to investigate the violence during the strike at Marikana. The proposal was rejected on the grounds that a judicial commission had already been established and any such parliamentary committee would be duplicating its work. Bench Marks Foundation emphasised that the briefing was not specifically on the recent events at Marikana.
The Bench Marks Foundation briefed the Committee on living conditions for platinum miners. They had conducted research in six of the twenty mining areas in the Rustenburg region. Several problems had been identified. Unemployment was rife, particularly amongst young people. The mines tended to employ migrant male workers and local females. This led to various social problems including various forms of sexual abuse. The rock drillers were seen as elite workers and were generally not unionised.
Other problems in the area were illiteracy. Mushrooming informal settlements were overtaxing the sewage systems. The water supply was insufficient. Miners were resorting to informal housing in a bid to save costs. Social and labour plans were not made public. Extensive damage was being caused to the environment. There was a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
The Foundation reported on a lack of recreational facilities. There was much abuse of alcohol, affecting productivity. Fatalities showed a spike approaching holiday periods, suggesting a disregard for safety procedures in a bid to boost productivity. There was still a huge gap between salaries, with Chief Executive Officers being paid more than 300 times than underground workers. Many mine workers were sub-contracted. Mines were contributing to social responsibility programmes, but a lack of oversight and co-ordination with the community often saw money being spent in the wrong areas.
Members asked how the South African industry compared to their counterparts overseas. There was a question over the implications should the migrant labour system be scrapped. Already many miners were no longer healthy enough to work on the mines and became a burden on medical services in their home communities. Ownerships schemes and community trusts were discussed. The sale of shares to the community often only resulted in more debt. There was a lack of broad-based empowerment. Some Members felt that the mining companies had misled Parliament on a previous occasion. Communities had to benefit from mining operations. Fortunately the schools in the Marikana region had not yet been affected by the unrest in the area. Remuneration did not match skills levels. Most illegal mining operations took place on abandoned mines. It was a major but illegal industry, and it was suggested that these illegal enterprises be legalised with proper standards in place. Mining companies targeted officials in the Department of Mineral Resources for recruitment. There had been several cases of corruption. Communication between the different parties was lacking. The Foundation reported that the communities were feeling alienated, and a power vacuum might occur if threats to boycott future elections were enacted.
Meeting reportThe Chairperson said this would be the last meeting of the current term of Parliament. The Committee was scheduled to meet with the Financial Fiscal Commission early in the following term. There would be a lot of budget related work to follow.
Mr E Lucas (IFP) said there had been a milestone development on shale gas prospecting the previous day. Members needed to be properly informed in making their decisions. The Committee should have been able to visit areas to be investigated for shale gas prospecting but finances were not available. Members needed to conduct proper research.
The Chairperson said that the Minister had indicated that there would be a process of consultation. Once the Committee had been briefed by the Ministry, it would have to find a way to make a visit possible. Shell had approached the Committee.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) supported the comments on shale gas. On the Marikana matter, Members had expected to be inspecting the hills around the platinum mines. While the information that would be imparted at the meeting would be useful, it was a piecemeal approach. Other Committees also needed first hand information on the situation in the area. He proposed that Parliament establish an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate the situation.
Ms F Bikani (ANC) said that there was an ongoing need to meet with the platinum mining groups irrespective of the situation at Marikana.
The Chairperson said that on the issues relating to the platinum sector, there would be no way to avoid dealing with the Marikana issue. A judicial commission had been established and Parliament should not duplicate the work that this commission would do. The Committee could then invite stakeholders to meet with it once the commission had reported.
Mr C Huang (COPE) seconded the proposal to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate conditions in the platinum mining industry.
The Chairperson said he had already ruled on this matter.
Mr C Gololo (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson's ruling.
Mr Lorimer asked what the purpose of the briefing was, as the investigation into living conditions would be part of the work of the judicial committee.
The Chairperson said that the research had been a long-standing requirement. It was not specifically related to the uprising at Marikana.
Briefing by Bench Marks Foundation
Mr John Capel, Executive Director, Bench Marks Foundation (BMF), said that the Foundation had being undertaking research into the mining industry for some time. Their work was funded by organisations including the South African Council of Churches, and stemmed from the introduction of the Sullivan Code. They looked into the living conditions of miners and the social impact of the industry. There was a broader impact, such as that on subsistence farmers. They wished to help to improve on the way that these stakeholders co-operated. The Foundation would present on its latest study. Six communities had been covered in this study.
Mr David van Wyk, Lead Researcher, BMF, said that the context of the study was summarised by Sol Plaatje in 1914. Miners still experienced the same hazardous working conditions, both in terms of physical danger and long-term health risks. The work of the Foundation covered six villages in the Rustenburg area. Community members had been trained as monitors, and looked at environmental and social issues. The University offered courses in this regard. Many members of provincial and local government had enrolled for the Masters course.
Mr van Wyk said that more than half the number of people in the Bojanala region were unemployed. Mining companies shifted their workers from mine to mine. In terms of the Mining Charter, 10% of employees had to be women. There were no migrant female workers, and the result was that local women were employed but not the local men. This led to social tension. Many of the women engaged in transactional sex in the hostels, while they also faced abuse in the crowded conditions underground. The rock drillers were the best paid, and women often resorted to selling sexual favours to supplement their income. The mine shafts were littered with used condoms. This was an untenable situation. Chiefs and councillors were often tasked by mining houses to recruit workers. One women reported that she had been to five interviews, and on each occasion had refused to have sex in return for a job.
Mr van Wyk said that there were disturbing feature. Of the community members aged between 20 and 29, 43% were unemployed. Expectations were created as mining companies promised jobs, but then brought in a migrant labour force. The Marikana crisis actually dated to August 2011, when the community had stopped Lonmin operations to demand jobs.
Mr van Wyk's father had been a mining engineer. He had undergone an apprenticeship and had qualified as an engineer without having to attend university. The apprenticeship scheme had been discontinued. He could not understand why there was not a mining college in Rustenburg.
Mr van Wyk said that all the mining companies contributed to education. However, there was competition between the mines rather than co-ordinating their approach. For example, a mine might contribute to a science laboratory at a school but as there was no science teacher, the facility remained locked. This also contributed to community anger. He showed an example of a building sign for a school financed by Lonmin. The problem was that all the labour came from outside the area. This was in contrast to the situation in Zimbabwe where local labour was used in all social projects. This was not happening in Marikana.
Mr van Wyk said that the majority of the 1.2 million residents in the area were between 20 and 39. These figures came from National Treasury. These figures were not used by mines. In fact, Treasury had rejected the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) because local demographics had been ignored. It was interesting to note that when the communities went to the mines for jobs for their children, they were told that they did not have mathematics and science. Many jobs did not require such skills. In fact, many of the migrant workers were illiterate. There was a disjuncture. Standards were set for the community seeking jobs, but not for migrant workers. Skills were being taught at the new schools, but there was no prospect of employment while jobs still went to those without these qualifications.
Mr van Wyk looked at sewage conditions in Marikana. At every 500 metres, bulk sewage was flowing into the river. This was causing bilharzia, a disease more common to central Africa. Upstream from the mine the water was as clean as could be, but was dangerously polluted downstream. Living conditions were overcrowded with many backyard dwellers. The sewage system could not cope with the extra load. The municipality could not keep up with demand. In fact, Rustenburg was one of the fastest growing areas on the continent. The Foundation had met with the Chamber of Mines. Money was being given to local government, but there was no monitoring to ensure that money was spent on the purpose for which it was given. There should be a plan for donations.
Mr van Wyk reported on the scarcity of water in the region. Semi-treated sewage, or brown water, was used in applications such as cooling the drills. This splattered onto the operators and created health problems. There was poor sanitation in traditional areas and in the informal settlements. The high nitrate concentration came from pit latrines as well as the mining process. The municipality could not keep up with the provision of water-borne sewage. In many open cast mines, the pit was not closed properly once the mine was decommissioned. Water gathered in the pits, and provided a health hazard to children swimming in the pools.
Mr van Wyk showed Members a picture of a monitor discussing health problems with a resident, whose property was covered with leaking sewage water.
Mr van Wyk said that the overall water consumption would increase significantly in the following five years. The water supply was already insufficient. The water quality of the surrounding rivers was deteriorating.
Mr van Wyk said that one of the problems was the living-out allowance. The conversion of hostels to family units meant that the majority of workers had to vacate the hostels. Squatter camps were developing outside hostels. Migrant workers did not qualify for reconstruction and development programme (RDP) housing. Many townships were far from the mines. The workers often wanted to send as much money home for their families as possible. The mines told the Foundation that they had preferential employment policies for residents within a 40 km radius. However, the majority of those killed at Marikana came from outside the province. A chief had been killed near Pilanesberg in the 1990s by migrant miners who refused to accept his authority.
Mr van Wyk said that there was a housing backlog of 101 000 units in the Rustenburg district. Only 22 000 houses had been built between 2000 and 2005. Lonmin and Anglo American had built some houses, but not nearly enough to house all the workers coming into the area. Informal settlements were large and growing. Land was being occupied illegally and illegal evictions were also taking place. Anglo Platinum was one of the richest companies in the world, but many of its workers were in living in shacks. He had grown up in mining villages where in some cases the mines even supplied teaspoons for the workers in their houses. The mines had run a virtual social state, but this had all ended in 1994.
Mr van Wyk showed a photograph of a ventilation tower which protruded over informal houses. The shaft was some 500 metres deep and there was a continuous spray of wet air and noise with no consultation with the community. The Mineral Resources and Petroleum Development Act (MRPDA) said that mines must co-operate with the communities. This was not happening. The social and labour plans were not made public. In one cases farm workers had been relocated into zinc houses while their houses were demolished over the road.
Mr van Wyk showed a photograph of a cracked house. Many villages had been established before the mines had been developed. The mines refused to accept responsibility for this damage. Independent assessors always found that the house owner was responsible due to poor architecture, but similar houses in areas without mines did not have the same problems. There should be free prior consent to mining operations by the community. Mines never spoke about the negative impact.
Mr van Wyk moved on to the HIV/AIDS situation. This was one of the worst affected areas. Few were tested because of the stigma. About 40% of deaths in the North West province were due to HIV related diseases. There was a high prevalence of sex work in the Rustenburg area. The only forms of entertainment were sex and shebeens, which also resulted in widespread alcohol abuse and related problems with violence. Another disturbing practice was that Sotho miners brought young girls into the country. These women could not speak the local languages and were kept as sex slaves. There was even a term for this practice. The practice was fairly common. This needed to be investigated.
Mr van Wyk said that the media had created the impression that conflicting unions were responsible for the violence in the areas. There was a steadily increasing membership of existing trade unions. Rock drill workers tended not to join unions, and only trusted members of the Foundation to negotiate on their behalf. Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) membership was predominantly from workers who had not been members of a union.
Mr van Wyk presented figures on casualties. There was a trend of an increasing number of fatalities before holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter. He ascribed this to a neglect of safety standards in the rush to boost productivity. He contrasted these figures to mines run by the same companies in Zimbabwe. In that country, local labour was used, better living conditions were available and all workers were literate. The number of fatalities was dramatically lower.
Mr van Wyk showed that mines had high costs at start up, reducing during the life cycle. Costs escalated towards the end of its life-cycle. Often companies sold mines near to the end of their useful life to junior partners, such as in the case of Aurora, without disclosing the massive costs associated with environmental rehabilitation. There were several Impala platinum mines nearing this condition. The Foundation recommended that there should be a ban on the sale of mines close to the end of their useful lives because of the financial burden the buyer unwittingly inherited.
Mr van Wyk compared the wages of miners to senior management. In 2011 the average worker at Lonmin had to work for 390 years to match the annual salary of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Under the 2012 wages, the gap had reduced marginally to 325 years.
Mr Capel said that many mining costs were externalised onto communities and local government. There should be a different strategy in line with COP 17, or else mining should be done on a more responsible basis. There should be a cost structure which internalised costs such as the pollution of water and air. Parliament should be looking at these issues. Communities could be involved in clean-up operations which would also create jobs. Underground water was polluted and the costs of cleaning the supply had to be considered. Various laws needed to be amended, particularly concerning health and safety practices and compliance with environmental standards. There should be an amendment to the MRPDA regarding the informed consent of the communities in new mining areas. Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) should be moved to the Department of Environmental Affairs. Parliament should address the deepening poverty of communities by some form of revenue sharing. Local communities should be involved in social and labour plans.
Mr Capel said that tighter conflict of interest legislation should be introduced. Government officials were serving on boards of mining companies or being BEE partners in the industry. Communities should rather be involved. The issue of sub-contracted labour should be investigated. In the Aquarius company, 90% of its work force was sub-contracted. Mines with persistently high fatality rates should be investigated and possibly closed. Health, safety and community involvement issues should be investigated. Social involvement projects failed due to a lack of consultation. The Green Scorpions should be encouraged to do more work on sulphur and carbon dioxide emissions. 60% of cases at local hospitals were due to respiratory problems. Higher fines could be introduced. Housing conditions in the district should be investigated. The number of slum areas should be reduced as part of the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr Capel recommended that the Department of Labour should investigate the health and safety conditions both amongst miners and the surrounding community. Air quality in the proximity of processing plants should be investigated. Separate facilities for female workers should be established. Female workers should not be placed in compromising situations. There were a number of recommendations for investigation by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). An independent fund, with contributions from all mines, should be set up to benefit communities.
Mr Capel said that there were a number of recommendations on what the mining companies should be doing. There was no engagement with civic organisations, not only those that agree with them. In some cases Section 21 committees were set up with benefits from the mining companies which acted as little more than puppets.
The Chairperson noted that it was an informative, well-researched report. It was clear that the Foundation had been diligent and he was pleased to see that no company had been singled out.
Mr Gololo thanked BMF for the informative report. The situation was very unfortunate. Participatory research uncovered the facts. He asked about international mining companies, such as Anglo American's operations in Chile and how their overseas operations compared to those in South Africa. He asked why rock drillers were reluctant to join trade unions. He asked if the situation with illegal mining had been investigated.
Mr Lorimer noted the criticism of the migrant labour system. He asked what would happen to areas supplying migrant labour should this practice be stopped.
Mr Huang noted that the living-out allowance had caused problems. He asked if the Foundation had any recommendation in this regard. The slavery and sex trade allegations were major concerns. This should never be allowed to happen. It had to be stopped.
Mr H Schmidt (DA) said it was an understatement to state that local government was failing. The municipality of Rustenburg had failed to manage its own affairs for the previous five years. Provincial government was also failing. There were unintended consequences of the housing policy. The problem was in the resolution. Many other mining companies would say that the IDP either did not exist, or no role was seen for the company. There were many related issues. He was interested in the concept of the mobile work force. Companies tended to establish themselves for a minimum of twenty years. The workers might be mobile initially, but would become part of the community over time. His party believed that the ownership initiative programme would provide for smoother mine operations. The unions had traditionally opposed this scheme. The other solution was to establish community trusts. He asked if mining companies were allowed to exercise any control over their donations. There was no current legal basis for them to oversee the use of their funds. There was too much emphasis on too few people. Some mining magnates were becoming the richest people in the world to the detriment of the miners and the community. The MRPDA made provision for community involvement, but was not being enforced.
Ms Bikani was saddened by the report. It showed the vastness of the work still to be done. Parliament would now have a better insight into the work it needed to do. Changes in approach were needed. There needed to some co-ordinated, cross-cutting work. A model should be developed to gauge progress, especially in the local municipalities. The Committee should look into local government on its oversight visits before going to the mining companies. It seemed that there were failures on government side. The Committee had been to call the top ten mining companies. A lot of information had not been captured. This might be the result of purposeful evasion of the truth. The companies should be called again. It was obvious that government monitoring tools were not been applied effectively. She asked the Foundation if there was any continuing work in other areas.
Ms D Mathebe (ANC) was concerned with the safety of women underground. She asked if any cases of rape had been reported.
Mr Lucas asked what reactions BMF received from the mining companies. The women underground were a small percentage of the work force. He asked if women volunteered for these duties or if they were forced into it. He asked if there was communication between the mines and communities and what they required. There were a few companies that benefited. Not all could succeed. In most cases, mining areas were in remote locations. A village would develop around the mine. People migrated from adjacent areas, and should have the first right to employment. There was a huge unemployment rate in the country, and people streamed into areas where jobs became available. He asked what lessons South Africa could learn from the high literacy rate of Zimbabwean miners.
Mr van Wyk said that his observations were particular to the Zimbabwean platinum mines. It was not an identical situation in other sectors.
Mr M Sonto (ANC) observed that the information enriched the observations made by the Committee on oversight visits. He agreed that the housing situation was not good. Communities were not always consulted by mining companies. He agreed that it would be a recipe for disaster to fail to provide benefits for local communities. Where a mining company operated, extracting profits from the soil, it was the Committee's intention that the local communities should benefit. He asked what reaction had come to this public document from all stakeholders. He asked if there had been a meeting with civic organisations. Shanty townships sprang up overnight. The demand for accommodation far exceeded supply. He asked what recommendation the Foundation could make on this matter. Such overnight settlements were not planned by local government.
Mr P Mbhele (COPE) noted the correlation of high fatality rates to seasons. He asked if was co-incidental that the trend was only traced back to 1994. He noted the criticism of the use of local chiefs to recruit women, and asked if there was another way to do this.
Ms B Tinto (ANC) noted the spread of HIV/AIDS. She asked if there were health facilities to assist the community. It was not just the mines that were affected. Schools were affected by civil disturbances, and she asked what impact the Marikana strikes had had on local schools.
Mr Capel said that the standards for mining in Australia and Canada were much higher, and remuneration was also higher. A Swedish iron mine had been forced to relocate an entire town and was still making a profit. The rock driller group needed to be understood. They were highly skilled, but were not recognised. They saw themselves as the kings of the mines, and were often in superb physical condition. Production was dependent on their skills. They had traditionally tried to negotiate separately with companies, and felt that collective bargaining through the unions was to their disadvantage. Their skills could often not be taught academically.
Mr Capel said that the living-out allowance had unintended consequences. The Mining Charter spoke to family units, single rooms for workers and other improved living quarters. The hostel system in the platinum mines had not evolved to the same extent as on the gold mines. The easy option was to offer this allowance, which was also seen as extra income. The mines should take the responsibility for providing decent accommodation for their workers. This should be an integral part of the social and labour plan.
Mr van Wyk added that wages were related to supervisory ability rather than skills. Those with such ability were promoted and awarded. This was often a problem in the union context, as workers were not rewarded for their skills as happened in other countries. This should be reviewed. The life of a mine started with shaft sinking. This was a specialised task, and the unit would move on once this job was done. A group of various skills would then move in and construct the infrastructure. As mines reached the end of their useful life, the work force would be relocated as new mines were opened. The mining companies wanted to see quick profits. Training local people would hamper this vision. Many mining towns had been built under British guidelines, but this model was no longer followed.
Mr van Wyk said that there were 600 abandoned mines in Johannesburg. This was where illegal mining was practised. The Deeds Office in Pretoria should be able to trace the ownership of the mines. The Chamber of Mines was shirking its responsibility in this area and other provinces. Abandoned mines might be resuscitated should there be an upturn in the gold price. Informal mining should be legalised. Co-operatives should be formed and safety standards should be enforced. It was impossible to stop the practice. The ore was being sold. It was illegal to possess unprocessed gold or platinum. Someone was buying their products. Illegal miners were underground for months on end, and there was a logistics chain to see to their needs such as food.
Mr van Wyk responded on the abuse of women. Mothers often rented out their daughters in this way. This was due to the poverty in the area, where the only means of creating an income was through illegal sex and alcohol trades.
Mr Capel said that the Foundation had not dealt with ownership programmes. However, they had found that community trusts were not working. Mining companies often had their pet projects such as education. The community often had no insight into how the money was used. There was often a mismatch between what the community wanted and what the mines offered. There were a host of politically connected individuals in the mining industry. This often gave the mines the feeling that they could bypass communities. It was a big problem. Often the community had to lay their complaints with a body that was not impartial. In one example a community had laid a complaint with the Director-General (DG). On a later follow-up they discovered that the same DG had subsequently taken up a senior position with the company about which they had complained.
Mr Capel listed some other mining sectors in which the Foundation was interested. They had looked at the experience before and after the commencement of mining operations. Not everything could be measured in market value. They would also be looking at the steel and retail industries and their impact, or lack thereof, on local economic development. The mining houses had generally not responded. Anglo Platinum had delivered a critical response. They had committed themselves to spending billions of Rand in communities, but this was not the case in practice. It was more a case of communities investing in mines rather than the other way around. Houses might be built, but owners had to finance these rather than be given the houses. There had been engagement with Royal Bafokeng. Anglo had met with the Foundation, but this engagement was more in the form of talk rather than anything constructive. He hoped that notice would be taken of the recommendations made.
Mr van Wyk added that there was interaction with civic organisations. The Foundation tried to build their capacity and bring the issues of the community to government. It was better if communities spoke for themselves, but sometimes they needed assistance in what was an unbalanced relationship with mining companies. The knowledge base of communities should be expanded. Communities should be informed of positive and negative consequences. There were areas where this was working. Communities were now finding their voice. Mining companies tended to have endless meetings, changing the personnel and never coming to a decision. Communities were now demanding proper agendas and action lists. A systemic approach was needed. The Foundation was only able to deal with six of the twenty communities in the area. It was also doing work in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Mines should partner with social processes and speak with the communities.
Mr van Wyk said that mining companies were not meeting the targets being set, even though the demands were not onerous. The phasing out of migrant labour had not been addressed. Communities had not been considered in the Charter. There were failures at all levels of government. The Premier of North West had not yet visited Marikana. He had been a member of the Communist Party in the area, and noted that politicians were only seen at election time. He was pleased that the Committee wanted to visit the areas involved. Politicians at provincial level thought first of the perks of the job. For example, the first priority on election seemed to be acquiring luxury vehicles. These were not practical for visiting the deep rural areas, and politicians might be afraid that their fancy cars might be stoned if they visited unhappy communities. By contrast, government officials in Botswana generally drove four by four vehicles which enabled them to visit rural communities. He felt that provincial and local government did not respect Parliament.
Mr van Wyk had met with traditional and government leaders in other countries. All had raised the same problems. On mining legislation there was a serious problem. In other countries, mining companies were responsible for the maintenance of local government. In the past, mining companies had been held responsible for building the supporting town. Money was being taken out of the environment and nothing was being returned. The old law should be reconsidered. Countries like Zambia had experienced the same problem before and after independence.
Mr van Wyk addressed the issue of women on the mines. A geologist reported that she walked around with a knife at all times lest someone attempt to abuse her. Many women considered themselves temporary workers. Local women were able to get jobs, but there was no work for the men. There had been no women at Wonderkop, as the men had a long-term horizon in mining not shared by women. The Foundation thought that cultural issues had to be addressed in what was a very male-centred culture. The demographics were wrong. Minorities could be victimised. Women were a small minority on the mines. Women were in danger underground. There had indeed been a case of a woman being raped and murdered, but this could have been a paid transaction that went wrong. It was difficult to ask confidential questions in the crowded township conditions.
Mr van Wyk agreed that there were huge communication problems at all levels between communities, mines, government and unions. There would be serious consequences if these problems were not solved. A former CEO had told the Foundation that the Marikana issue might not be a unique case. He had made a public statement that the wage gap was unsustainable. The Acting CEO of Lonmin had said that companies must take their lead from communities rather than lead themselves. This shift in approach was welcome but might easily be reversed.
Mr van Wyk agreed that there had been spikes in mine accidents before 1994. He had only gone back that far because of the change in the public holiday schedule. It was a problem when mine workers had been in shacks for fifteen years. Many of these shack residents were sub-contracted labourers. The labour brokers were making a huge profit. This was a huge problem. On migrant labour, the impact on the areas providing labour would be severe if migrant labour was phased out. There were annual health tests. Miners with 60% of lung functions were medically boarded before the company could be held responsible. Such former migrant labourers became a burden on the health services in their home areas. In 1988, the then President had been shocked by the level of HIV/AIDS in the industry. He had blamed the Malawian workers and thereafter workers had been recruited from the Eastern Cape. Problems from the province were continued in the mining areas. There had been several deaths due to disputes over issues of cattle at home. Settled miners living with their families would be less likely to contract and spread HIV. Statistics should be compiled at a local level. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in mining areas was probably double that of surrounding areas, but the tendency to aggregate statistics by provinces made it difficult to analyse this. Fortunately the Marikana strike had not yet affected schools in the area.
The Chairperson could not understand how people living around mines were still living in abject poverty. As long as wealth was not being equitably shared, despite South Africa being the richest country in the world across the mineral spectrum. The Committee would note the recommendations of the Foundation in planning further oversight visits. The comparison of worker and CEO wages was obscene. The figures illustrated an endemic fault in the capitalist system. If this was not addressed the Marikana disaster would be repeated. It was worrying about how work on the mines was being casualised. Many workers were employed by labour brokers, and enjoyed fewer rights than their peers. Working conditions were appalling. Unions were part and parcel of employee ownership agreements. Agreements reached with management were often not implemented in practice. Workers were being robbed. In schemes where workers were able to acquire shares they often had to raise finance to buy them, and most of the dividends had to be used to service the debt.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would analyse the recommendations made, particularly those pertaining to government and suggested changes to legislation. He did not know if the Foundation had met the Department and the SAHRC. There was a lack of adherence to the Mining Charter. Certain companies had demonstrated their commitment, but often not even to the full extent.
Mr Capel said that the report had been submitted to all relevant government departments and the SAHRC. They had met with the head of regulations at the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). They had not been received well. Questions had been asked about foreign funding. Allegations of corruption by DMR officials had been challenged.
Mr Lucas had noted a comparison with Australia. There was more mechanisation in that country.
Mr van Wyk replied that most mines in Australia were open cast and were therefore more mechanised. Half the platinum mines in Rustenburg were open cast, and mechanised to a similar level. Deep level mining had greater hazards. Not a single mining company had run away in face of Zimbabwean local ownership policies, but 86% of the world's platinum deposits were in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Impala Platinum was spending millions on adult basic education programmes with little visible reward. It was possible that the service provider was pocketing the money. Countries like Germany and Japan had been devastated during the Second World War, but had rebuilt themselves to being highly productive countries. It was difficult for labourers in South Africa to be productive given poor remuneration and appalling living conditions. Germany and Japan understood the need to give their workers proper incentives, and were reaping the rewards. The total condition of the workers should be assessed in determining safety standards. Stressful conditions on the mine might encourage a worker to drink heavily, impacting on his productivity and safety awareness the next day. Similarly, the poor living conditions would impact on the worker's productivity.
Mr Lucas said that Japan was a homogeneous society. There was a negative perception of the work culture of South African workers. This stigma was hard to shake off. South Africans had been treated as second class citizens in the past.
Ms L Mjobo (ANC) said that most of the local residents were not employed in the mining industry, but were trying to make a living from miners. Attention should also be paid to the loan sharks that preyed on the community. This put a strain on family life as workers faced crippling debts. This area should be researched. In terms of salary gradings, there should be a relationship with labour where this could be discussed. There should be standard, legally enforceable grades. Mine owners should educate employees. There should be transparency. She did not know how far the process of regulation through labour laws in this regard had advanced.
Mr Gololo asked what recommendations the Foundation had for cases of companies not complying with the Mining Charter. He asked if licences should be revoked.
Mr Capel said that the biggest concern with the Charter was the lack of broad-based empowerment. The issue of enforced compliance was for another debate. It should not be the same group of politically inspired empowerment candidates.
Mr van Wyk said that the empowerment model was challenging. Communities were buying the shares in the mines. These were made available, but the bank took 80% of the dividends. If the mine went under the shareholders lost everything. Communities were desperately poor but were being put into even greater debt. The comparison he had made was to Zimbabwean mines, and surely South Africa could match this. The entire operation in Zimbabwe and Botswana was under black management. In Zimbabwe, it was found that where machinery was operated by women, the equipment lasted much longer. There was therefore a preference to employ them in these areas. The roads leading to the mines were a 'river for AIDS' as the truck drivers picked up infected women along the way. He suspected that mines in Zimbabwe complied with regulations as they feared government action should they fail. The last three DMR Directors General had all been picked off by mining companies. The provincial office at Klerksdorp had been changed twice as all the employees had been dismissed for corruption. Social and labour plans were not accessible. Members of the public could read these huge documents at the department's offices but were not allowed to make copies. The secrecy around the issue suggested that corruption might be concealed.
The Chairperson posed a difficult question. The Foundation had interacted with companies and communities. He asked what the feeling on the ground was. He asked what the people thought would be a lasting solution. Members were forming their own opinions from their interactions.
Mr van Wyk replied that communities were feeling alienated. After the Marikana crisis, people were saying they would not vote in the following election. This could create a power vacuum. For democracy to succeed, people should feel part of the wealth being created around them. This was not only experienced in the mining industry. The issues of race had not yet been addressed effectively. He was normally the only white person to visit the Marikana community. There were still racial structures on the mines. Those at the bottom of the pyramid were exclusively black with an increasing percentage of white people as one moved up the management chain. There were some hand-picked black persons on the Board. He noted his experience in Zambia. White persons were being recruited from South Africa at a management level. The so-called soft positions, such as environmental management and social issues were occupied by blacks and women, while operational managers were generally white. These soft issues seldom featured on management agendas.
The Chairperson thanked the Foundation for attending the Committee and providing information. This would not be the last time that they would be invited. The report would be analysed and discussed further. He wished Members well for the short upcoming recess. The Secretariat was working on the proposed study visit to Australia.
The meeting was adjourned.
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