The events unfolding at Lonmin’s Marikana mine and spreading through the mining sector are the culmination of a "systematic, orchestrated, long-time plan" by people within the African National Congress (ANC), with expelled youth league president Julius Malema as their front man, says Sdumo Dlamini, president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
Cosatu, part of the ruling alliance with the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP), is holding its national congress next week where it will have to strategise to counter the "onslaught" against its largest affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The union federation will also have to deal with internal conflicts — some of them linked to the ANC’s elective conference in December — that are threatening unity.
The mining sector, particularly in North West and on the West Rand, is facing massive labour unrest with workers ditching established trade union representation, mainly the NUM, and tabling wage demands outside of bargaining processes.
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Mr Malema extended his assistance to striking workers at Marikana after 34 of their number were shot by police last month and has addressed strikers at Gold Fields, near Johannesburg, where he called for a national strike in the mining industry, demanding that the NUM’s leadership step down.
Mr Dlamini said in an interview on Wednesday that Mr Malema and his backers in the ANC were hoping to plunge South Africa into "chaos" in a bid to remove President Jacob Zuma as president of the party in December.
"We also understand that there have been certain individuals behind him who are funding this for their own political ambitions," he said.
"Julius Malema may be the point person running at the front, but we know that there are big guns behind him.
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