Last week, the great and good of South Africa’s mining sector congregated for the 2017 Mining Indaba.
As the Indaba began, the tone was set by Minister Zwane’s speech, which highlighted the forthcoming Mining Charter due to be published in March.
At the heart of the charter, is a proposal to empower black South Africans, requiring mining companies to retain a minimum of 26% black ownership.
In a country where 80% of the population is black, you would think this is a modest measure.
For whom does South Africa work?
Instead, monopoly capital chose to pull out every stop to prevent this from going forward.
First to be wheeled out was South Africa’s last white President, FW de Klerk, who expressed his opposition to economic transformation in the mining sector, adding that “if South Africa fails, Africa fails.”
But Voetsek can’t help but wonder, would the 36 miners killed at Marikana, who argued “the benefits of mining are not reaching the workers or the surrounding communities”, have agreed that South Africa’s mining sector has ever worked?
De Klerk’s statement represented everything that is wrong with our society: the haves, mostly white, completely clueless of the conditions of the majority black, have nots.
When De Klerk and his monopoly capital colleagues suggest South Africa needs to maintain the status quo because it works, we must ask him, for whom does it work?
Alternative Mining Indaba
As Mining Indaba congregated, just a 10 minute drive away, the Alternative Mining Indaba also took place. Here, the most striking immediate difference was the interests represented.
On the one hand, the Mining Indaba was represented by groups such as Lonmin, the company behind Marikana; and Glencore who have for years faced industrial action over pay and working conditions.
On the other hand, the Alternative Mining Indaba was represented by groups such as Oxfam SA – authors of the recent report on inequality, and Open Society South Africa – promoters of democracy, human rights, and good governance.
The Alternative Mining Indaba declared:
We urge African governments to push hard for stronger and better regulatory institutions to ensure that the benefits of extraction are shared equitably.