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Minister Gwede Mantashe must act now and withdraw the mining licence against Sibanye-Stillwater


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Minister Gwede Mantashe must act now and withdraw the mining licence against Sibanye-Stillwater

Image of Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe
Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe

23rd May 2022


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The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) urges the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) Gwede Mantashe to act now against Sibanye-Stillwater, revoking its mining rights in the gold sector.

It has always been the NUM standing view that Sibanye-Stillwater under the leadership of Neal Froneman is the major destroyer of jobs in the mining industry in South Africa. This man is already threatening to issue Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act to retrench workers because of the current Gold Sector Strike. We are not shocked or surprised, that is what he does best.

With poor black mineworkers on strike for almost three months demanding a mere R1000 and 6% in living wages, Sibanye-Stillwater continues to show workers a middle finger. The company is even boasting it has enough money to fight a strike and stop production for years, which on its own gives the DMRE Minister power to suspend or cancel rights, permits or permissions to mine.

Recently Froneman has been awarded an astounding R300 million while employees are out in the cold. This is atrocious, disgusting, and sickening. Benefits to mineworkers, who are supposed to be the first beneficiaries of these natural resources remain minimal or nothing. Mineworkers continue to risk their lives deep below the surface of the earth to produce gold, but at the end of the month, they earn poverty wages. This is an insult.

We are agreeing with Minister Gwede Mantashe that Sibanye-Stillwater is no longer interested in mining in this country. The company is acting like a government that is in charge and Froneman is the President, owning all the minerals. 

As the NUM we did raise our concerns about the government’s quietness when Neal Froneman was undermining the very core of the Freedom Charter, which proclaims that the minerals belong to all the people of South Africa.

We will be fully supporting the Minister when he starts the process of revoking Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining licence. We are calling for Minister Gwede Mantashe not to capitulate when threatened with legal action by this evil company.

It is quite clear that there is a basis for that. Sibanye-Stillwater currently does not want to mine any longer. It is arrogantly sitting on top of the properties of minerals, preventing other potential companies from mining.

Section 47 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act gives the Minister power to suspend or cancel rights, permits or permissions in certain circumstances.

Mineworkers are deeply trapped in poverty. Why can't Froneman take full responsibility?  Sibanye-Stillwater has over the past years earned the title of worst employer amongst workers. 

The NUM is also perturbed by the deafening silence coming from Sibanye Stillwater Board and its Chairperson Dr Vincent Maphai and  from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), a key investor in the Sibanye-Stillwater.

The PIC manages the pensions of government employees and they must come out and condemn the behaviour of the Sibanye-Stillwater management.

The PIC is owned by workers in the public sector. By being silent are they telling us they do not care about the plight of mineworkers? Or are they just enjoying the dividends made from the sweat of workers who are now on strike?

Where is Sibanye Stillwater Board and its Chairperson Dr Vincent Maphai when exploited black mineworkers need their intervention? They are nowhere to be found and their silence is extremely loud. The NUM is extremely disappointed by their silence and lack of intervention. These are sell-outs and lapdogs.

The NUM is extremely disappointed by a lack of coverage from major television networks like the SABC, eNCA and Newzroom Africa.  It is obvious that they have taken a deliberate decision not to cover the current Sibanye Stillwater Gold Strike. They have deliberately decided to support arrogant and pompous rich multimillionaires who are exploiting black mineworkers. We know that they are not covering the current strike because they do not want to lose their advertising revenues. Workers in this country are on their own. The media is a tool owned and controlled by the rich and mineworkers have to beg for coverage. Why must the working class in this country pay for a TV licence when their issues are not covered by the SABC?   

Issued by The National Union of Mineworkers

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