Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 29 January 2014

New mineworkers' strikes in South Africa

Workers and Socialist Party calls for democratic control of the action

The ongoing struggle of mineworkers in South Africa for a R12,500 (£900) a month minimum wage has exploded into strikes in the platinum mines once more - called by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

It was while striking for this same demand in 2012 that 34 miners were killed by police at Marikana. Out of the anger and political discussions that followed emerged the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), also involving the Democratic Socialist Movement (sister organisation of the Socialist Party).

This is an edited version of WASP's statement on the latest strikes.

WASP supports the platinum wage strike. However, we are supporting the call of the rank-and-file Rustenburg leadership for the immediate resurrection of the independent strike committees to lead the strike and place it firmly under the control of ordinary mineworkers.

WASP has consistently argued that winning R12,500 will require drawing in every section of the mineworkers through a programme of rolling mass action.

In the first instance this means pursuing a strategy to win over the remaining National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) membership.

It will also require mobilising the mining communities and youth in support of the strike. The mining communities' demands around service delivery have to be linked to the mineworkers' wage demands.

The mineworkers will need to call for the formation of support groups across the country and for national demonstrations, solidarity strikes and ultimately a general strike to force the mine bosses to concede.

Linking up with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will be crucial in the aftermath of Numsa's special conference which took the decision to cut ties with the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC).

To our knowledge the Amcu leadership has done none of this. But the mineworkers can rapidly make up the ground that the Amcu leadership has abandoned and adopt a strategy that will maximise the chances of victory.

Unfortunately, the Amcu leadership has taken a sectarian approach to sections of the mineworkers not under their banner.

This includes the condemnation of the NUM-led strike in the gold mines in September and the call by the Amcu leadership for Amcu members not to support this strike.

In contrast WASP called on Amcu to throw its weight behind the strike to expose and undermine the treacherous NUM leadership and win mineworkers away from them.

This would also have maximised the pressure on the gold mining bosses for the best possible wage deal for all mineworkers, regardless of union affiliation.

Numsa president Andrew Chirwa was invited to address an Amcu mass meeting before the strike by a local Amcu branch, with the expressed consent of the national Amcu leadership. But the same Amcu leadership then intervened to prevent him speaking.

On 20 January, WASP hosted a press conference to give a platform to rank-and-file Amcu leaders from Rustenburg voicing the concerns of key organisers and members at the Impala, Amplats and Lonmin mines.

We gave these workers' leaders a platform to respond to the accusations levelled against them by Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa at a mass meeting of mineworkers in the Rustenburg platinum belt.

Mathunjwa named eight rank-and-file Amcu leaders he accuses of seeking to "destroy" the union, "having tea with [South African president] Zuma", taking money from government, demanding and taking bribes, starting a new union and bearing responsibility for the defeat of the Amplats strike against retrenchments early last year. One of the workers named was immediately assaulted by a group of workers.

Need for structures

There is no credibility to these accusations. The real reason for the witch-hunt is that these workers have been at the forefront of calling for the democratisation of Amcu and the accountability of its leadership, including Mathunjwa.

Among the complaints is the Amcu leadership's failure to organise even basic democratic structures in Rustenburg that would give workers a genuine voice within their own union.

WASP has been drawing attention to these problems for several months. The democratic structures that do exist - shop stewards committees and branches - are frequently side-lined on the issues that are most fundamental to the labour movement: the calling and control of industrial action.

On the surface, the mass meetings called by the Amcu leadership, at which votes are taken, can seem democratic.

But these meetings amount to a 'rule by referendum' passed down from the top for approval rather than a genuine democratic discussion and debate where elected and accountable workers' representatives pass mandates up to the leadership.

After Marikana

The eight named by Mathunjwa are among those who led the independent strike committees that coordinated the strikes in the wake of the Marikana massacre.

In fact Amcu owes its entire position in the platinum belt to these comrades and others like them. The majority of the mineworkers in the platinum belt had sustained betrayals at the hands of the NUM, not least in Marikana itself.

These leaders took workers into Amcu, expecting and demanding an entirely different regime to the one they abandoned in the NUM.

Such is Mathunjwa's ingratitude for their role and suspicion of the workers' desire to control their own destinies, that he is prepared to incite workers to attack those who have always heroically defended the interests of the mineworkers and the working class in general.

Any responsibility for new divisions among the mineworkers lies squarely with the Amcu leadership.

There are rumours that a new union has been founded in the mining industry out of the differences in Amcu described above.

If this is the case, then it is a confirmation of the erosion of support for the Amcu leadership in the short space of time they have 'led' in the platinum belt.

Those workers' leaders at the WASP-hosted press conference remain Amcu members and are not part of this initiative.

But they did not lift Amcu out of obscurity only to capitulate to Mathunjwa's clique. Out of the strike they and WASP will demand the democratisation of Amcu and its reorganisation as a democratic and worker-led trade union.


The R12,500 demand was first raised by the independent strike committees in the course of the 2012 struggle.

It is entirely justified and entirely possible, despite the mine bosses' protests of its unaffordability.

It is winnable only on the basis of careful preparation by the mineworkers and the working class as a whole.

The platinum bosses have prepared for a long strike, stockpiling platinum for the world market. The share prices of the three main platinum producers actually increased on news of the strike! This is a vote of confidence by the vulture capitalists in the platinum bosses.

WASP has consistently and determinedly argued for the unity of the mineworkers and rejected the use of violence, the sectarianism of the Amcu leadership and the treachery of the NUM leadership.

This championing of all mineworkers, rather than just the section organised under Amcu's banner, has led Amcu leaders to slander WASP.

For example they regularly assert that some of our members wear red tshirts, the same colour as the NUM wears, because WASP (and DSM) are enemies of the mineworkers and want them to return to NUM!

The R12,500 will be a central demand in WASP's 2014 election campaign and WASP invites the independent workers' committees to nominate candidates to stand for election under the WASP umbrella.

Viva the mineworkers, viva!

Donate to the Workers and Socialist Party

WASP is appealing for international labour movement support. Messages of support and the publicising of the campaign will be vital.

But what is most crucial is the funding necessary to wage an effective election campaign. The money for the election deposits alone is R605,000 (£38,000). In total we need to raise R2 million (£125,000).

Please write cheques to "South African Miners Fund" and post to South African Miners' Solidarity, PO Box 66682, London E11 9ER or transfer funds to the account details below.

Name of account: Wasp

Bank: Absa

Branch: Gandhi Square

Bank address: 180 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg, 2001

Branch code: 632005

Account number: 4081935745

Swift code: ABSAZAJJ

If asked for a Clearing Code please use: 632005

If asked for Recipient's Address please use: 33 Yster Crescent, Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, 1812

For the reference please put: your country + the name of your organisation. Please send an email to to notify us to expect the donation and so we can send confirmation of receipt and a message of thanks.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 29 January 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Recovery? More Tory Lies!

Brighton Green referendum offers no alternative to cuts

Landlords, the real beneficiaries of benefits street

Them and Us

International socialist news and analysis

Davos: World capitalism means increased inequality

New mineworkers' strikes in South Africa

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

We need councillors who stand up for us

Plymouth TUSC plans for 2014 elections

Stop London Underground cuts

Support the tube workers' strikes

Determined strikes can stop London Underground in its tracks

Socialist Party workplace news

University workers continue strike action over pay

Land Registry threatened with sell-off

PCS leadership elections

NUT activists meet to push for action

NSSN launched in south of England

Workplace news in brief

The Socialist readers' comments

Debate on the environment

A waste of a Friday evening

Fight all cuts!

Derbyshire: 'Old Labour' cuts hurt just as much

Carmarthenshire council rats

Spelthorne residents demand fire cuts are stopped

Leeds Labour breaks bedroom tax promise

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bakers union launches fast food rights campaign

Socialist Party Northern region conference


Home   |   The Socialist 29 January 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

South Africa:

triangleZimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: South Africa - 5 years after the Marikana massacre

triangleBristol South Socialist Party: What is happening in South Africa?

triangleChesterfield Socialist Party: South Africa

triangleCaerphilly and RCT Socialist Party: Class struggle erupts across South Africa


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleSouth Africa: burning anger

triangleCourageous Ebola nurse Salomé Karwah dies

triangleSouth Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

Socialist Party:

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: The rise of Militant - lessons from our history

triangleStop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting


triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz


triangleSouth Africa: State victimises #OutsourcingMustFall activists


triangleArriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise


triangleSupport the Crossrail Woolwich walkout


triangleSouthwark Socialist Party: South Africa after Marikana





Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict



A world in crisis, ripe for revolution



Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse



Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core



Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle



Trump's tax attacks



Australia: massive yes vote for marriage equality



Zimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power



USA: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis



US: Historic vote for Ginger Jentzen campaign in Minneapolis



Sweden: 'Revolution2017' success



Spain: Madrid rally celebrates October revolution



US: Minneapolis Socialist chimes with voters



Ireland: rail workers demand share of 'recovery'



Ireland: dangerous ideas for the ruling class

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle16 Dec Blairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

triangle16 Dec Arriva bus drivers' action wins pay rise

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice