Moratorium on new mining licences could lead to more job losses
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, under whom the industry continued to bleed jobs, was the worst minister the country had since the dawn of democracy in 1994, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said yesterday.
The union said it had ‘’no working relationship’’ with Zwane and reiterated its call to President Jacob Zuma to fire him.
‘’We do not have a relationship with him … it doesn’t exist. The minister has decided to work with other people he works with, whom we do not know. He has decided to embark on a number of changes in the department without even sensitising us as a union,’’ NUM president Piet Matosa said.
Zwane, alleged to have close ties to the controversial Gupta family, took over from Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who was moved to the public service and administration ministry in 2015.
NUM secretary general David Sipunzi said retrenchment notices being received by the union increased by the day, and that Zwane’s decision to put a moratorium on new mining applications, placing restrictions on the granting of new mining and permitting rights and transfer of mineral rights between companies, would worsen the situation.
“We are of the view that such moratorium will negatively affect our members through job losses, since there would be no section 11 approvals taking place on the change of ownership and new mining prospecting rights,’’ said Sipunzi.
Over 20 000 workers in the country’s mines faced retrenchments. The union leaders said they had received section 189 notices from AngloGold Ashanti and Bokone Platinum, who plan to retrench 8 500 and 2,651 workers respectively. An additional 3 000 contract workers would also lose their jobs at Bokone, increasing the figure to over 5 000.
Sipunzi said the industry had shed 80 000 jobs over the past five years, and blamed the owners whom he said focused on making profits on mechanisation, and not on workers’ job security and the re-training of retrenched workers. However, the fight to save jobs was not made easy by Zwane, he added.