11 OCTOBER 2017

 

1. AMCU is a democratic, independent and militant trade union. It retains mass support on the platinum belt and particularly at Impala Platinum, Anglo Platinum, Sibanye Stillwater and most essentially at Lonmin.

2. Any journalist who attended the recent 5-year commemoration of the Marikana massacre would have seen more than 20 000 AMCU members, express through their mass participation their overwhelming support for our union. Moreover, it was clear, that when our President addressed the Commemoration, he won spontaneous adulation.

3. President Mathunjwa, wherever he addresses mass meetings of AMCU he is popularly embraced by our members and not just President Mathunjwa. The elected leadership of AMCU are warmly embraced by our members in all our mass meetings. Unlike in some organisations, this is without having to cultivate the cult of personality. This is spontaneous and no orchestration is needed.

4. We invite the media to attend our mass rallies that we will be holding to discuss with our members AMCU’s strategy in relation to the wave of retrenchments affecting our sector and the killings of our members, to see for themselves the level of unity in our movement.

5. Consequently, we reject with great contempt the article that first appeared in the “The Star, then regurgitated in the Mail and Guardian and City Press”, which purports that the leadership of AMCU is behind the killings at the Platinum Belt, in particular at Impala and Lonmin Platinum and that it promotes favoritism to some comrades based on tribal lines. This is pure nonsense.

6. In relation to the killings the leadership of AMCU has been extremely pained and traumatised by what has been taking place, as our various statements make clear. Moreover, in the face of the extreme tardiness of the police investigation of these killings, we have offered a R100 000 reward to anyone that will come forward with evidence leading to a conviction of these killers. The silent assassins are known and we suspect they will be betrayed “for a few pieces of silver” but we wonder why the Hawks or SAPS has not taken such steps.

7. Over and above this commitment, as AMCU we have engaged private investigators to assist with this investigation in collaboration with the relevant law enforcement agencies, so we can rapidly get to the bottom of these killings. We had to take these extraordinary measures because just when the police were going to make an arrest after credible evidence had been given to them, they were mysteriously prevented through the intervention of “higher authority.”

8. Furthermore, to our claims of the deliberate undermining of the investigation of the killing of our members, on Monday the 2nd of October 2017 Sphiwe Nteshane was arrested for being in possession of a firearm. (See Marikana Case number 226/09/2017.) The police, without sending the weapon for tests concluded that it was a toy, even though the Lonmin Mine Security officer at the scene confirmed the weapon was fatal and SAPS was called to make the arrest. Nteshane was not even taken to Rustenburg court where the docket was residing. The prosecutor did not even place the matter on the roll because of the police statement that said the weapon was a toy. More peculiarly, the police have hidden the suspect’s whereabouts because when he was apparently taken to the Brits police station and when we checked with Brits, he had apparently already been removed from the Brits police station. Consequently, there is good reason to suspect sinister forces with links to the police are frustrating the investigation into these heinous crimes and the vendetta against AMCU.

9. There have been a few disgruntled members of AMCU who have been used by the State to attempt to destroy AMCU. They have existed from the time of the 2012 and 2014 strikes. Some of these were Thebe Maswabi, Gaddafi Mdoda, George Tyobeka, to name some. In the case of Thebe Maswabi, evidence has come to light that he together with others collaborated with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to form a counter revolutionary yellow union called WAU, with the active involvement of the President of the Country as per the papers before the Court. There have been others who were involved in activities of putting the organisation into disrepute in their branches, which led to them being expelled from AMCU by their branches. These cases related to a few branch leaders who were dissatisfied by the action of the AMCU leadership in reprimanding them for unilaterally appointing service providers without any mandate from the members and approval of the national leadership. We make no bones about our action in this regard. Where members are tempted to accumulate through corruption we will take action against them, regardless of their status in AMCU. No leader will be protected. Not the President, not the Treasurer, not the branch leadership – no one!

10. AMCU is a mass democratic union, hence, no member whatsoever at Lonmin or any other workplace has been expelled from the organisation for expressing his / her views in the Union. We dismiss the allegations levelled against the AMCU leadership by the Star, Mail and Guardian and City Press, that we summarily expelled shop stewards at Lonmin. We will deal with the details of the allegations levelled at us at a press conference, which will be held on Thursday, 19 October 2017 (details to follow) and will involve branch leadership of Lonmin and Impala where the media can question them on the allegations being made.

11. In relation to the members that recently left AMCU, the truth of the matter is that a mass meeting was held at Lonmin 30 May 2017 to deal with the closure of the AMCU office, and the alleged suspension of the branch secretary comrade Mzendane. Comrade Mzendane was sharing the podium with President Mathunjwa and there is absolutely no truth that Mzendane was
suspended by AMCU. In actual fact AMCU was defending Mzendane in a Lonmin disciplinary hearing. There were some comrades who came late into the meeting singing and chanting and seeking to disrupt the meeting fuelled by the incorrect rumour that Mzendane was being removed from his position. In fact, it was comrade Mzendane, who had to escort his branch Chairperson, comrade David Manqu out of the meeting as he was drunk. All of this was an internal branch dispute, in which the AMCU leadership had no role other than to clarify the situation of Mzendane and to insist that the AMCU office be reopened. Most of those who came into the meeting singing and behaving in a disruptive manner accepted the explanation provided by President Mathunjwa. Nevertheless, there were a few members that continued to disrupt. When they could not get their way +/- 20 comrades walked out of the mass meeting singing. While leaving the stadium the President pleaded with them to stay since their departure would be tantamount to self-expulsion.

12. After the President’s call, some headed and came back. Here it is important to be detailed, given the rumours that have been spreading. Our former full-time health and safety officer, one of our comrades that has been killed, Comrade Biyela who was initially among the group remained in the meeting and he remained a loyal member of AMCU until he was cruelly gunned down. It is interesting to note how those that were trying to take advantage of the fear and divisions caused by the killing spree claimed that Mzendane had left AMCU. In fact, the NUM went so far as to claim Mzendane had joined them This was complete rubbish. Mzendane worked closely with us until he was ruthlessly killed. In fact the NUM were forced to make a retraction in relation to Mzendane joining them.

13. We therefore caution journalists from publishing unfounded allegations against AMCU and its leadership based on lies of a few disgruntled or former members. It must be appreciated that ever since, the displacement of NUM and the ±100 000 members in the platinum sector that chose AMCU as their union of choice, there has been a series of attempts to defeat AMCU such as the formation of WAU, character assassination of the leadership of AMCU, in
particular, against President Mathunjwa. Here, one only has to recall the campaign launched by NUM to reclaim Lonmin, to reclaim the Platinum belt and COSATU’s attempt to reclaim Rustenburg. These groupings, refuse to accept the democratic will of the vast majority of mineworkers.

14. We reiterate our invitation to journalists of all media houses to attend AMCU meetings to experience the unity and strength of our union – if they have forgotten. We hope that they would have the honesty and integrity to correct the falsehoods that they have peddled as fact.

15. Our members have been on the receiving end of violence, intimidation and killings from day 1 when AMCU became the majority union in the platinum sector. Just recently, if the journalists of the Star, Mail and Guardian and the City Press, cared to know, several AMCU members were brutally assaulted during a strike by NUM at Exxaro in Lephalale. In addition, there was the killing of AMCU members at Northam Platinum Mine. At least in that case a NUM member was convicted and sentenced to a long jail term. And most recently, as reported above, a person was arrested for entering our office with a gun.

16. Let us be clear, AMCU as a mass democratic trade union is committed to working class unity. We accept on the mines, as in all sectors of the economy different unions with different traditions, political orientations and strategies exist. They are not our enemies. Our attention is focused on Management and the bosses, that are throwing people out of work, reinforcing slave wages, ignoring health and safety measures, refusing to provide decent services as stated in their Social Labour Plans, acting in a racist and kragdadig manner to enforce the subordination of labour at the work place – this is what and who we target – not through violence but democratic mass action. We are eager to build working-class unity and will work with all workers, regardless of their union or political affiliation in the struggle for decent work, a living wage and working class transformation. We condemn any form of violence within the workers’ movement. We have made great efforts to persuade our members from taking the law into their own hands in the face of violence. Given the brutal history of the migrant labour system on the mines, the culture of violence that continues to thrive post – Apartheid, this is not easy. As a union we do not condone any violence, not least killing of any person by anyone.

We reject with contempt, the notion that AMCU is an undemocratic Union. We are one of the few unions that still promotes and encourages robust debates within our structures. We don’t suppress different views raised within the ambit of our Constitutional structures.

We seek mandates from our members in mass meetings. No decision is taken by national leadership nor regional or branch without a mandate of our members concerned.

Furthermore, there is no leader of AMCU who is elected without following the proper constitutional processes. All our elections and terms of office are informed by our Constitution.

It’s the principle that has made AMCU the force it is today. It is ridiculous to believe that Joseph Mathunjwa, the President of our union, or any other senior leader would cement tribal division, as alleged by the media and their sources. For the record, the leadership of AMCU has, and is continuing to vigorously attack any sign of tribal thinking or organizing in AMCU and on the mines. Much of our education programmes are directed to this. In all mass meetings we make a point of preaching to our members that we are all Africans and are of one race, the human race. We have been consistent in persuading members and the broader working class, not to be defined along tribal lines, in many instances quoting what has happened with disastrous effect in East and West Africa.

Finally, we wish to put on record that we are doing all in our power to work with the relevant law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to book. Hence;

a. The commissioning of a private investigation.
b. The R100 000 reward for the successful prosecution of the killers.
c. The rapid deployment of senior leadership to all AMCU branches.
d. The meetings of our leadership with Management of Lonmin and Impala to demand extra security.
e. Our statements condemning the killings, in no uncertain terms.
f. The urging of maximum restraint of our members, lest they retaliate.
g. The security measures we have put in place to protect those that have received death threats.
h. Several other measures we have been taken to find and prosecute the killers

DOES THIS INDICATE A LEADERSHIP THAT IS BEHIND THE KILLINGS AS YOUR ARTICLE ALLEGES? WOULD WE GO TO THESE LENGTHS IF WE WERE SO EVIL TO BE INVOLVED?

It is common cause that Marikana remains an area of tension, suspicion and social deprivation. We strongly suspect that there are forces that would wish to see AMCU defeated and the old regime returned. We believe they will seek to use whatever opportunity to divide and weaken AMCU.

We don’t need irresponsible, superficial journalism to further this agenda. This is not to ask for uncritical reporting on AMCU. We are for an open, free and democratic media. But for a journalist to undertake one trip, interview a few people and then give voice to the claims of a few un-named people, who allege the most sensationalist, irresponsible, untested allegations, is in reality gutter journalism of the worst kind. This journalism reminds us of the recent Sunday Times so-called exposures of the SARS rogue unit. In that case, it turned out that the journalists were played by agents of the state at great cost, to people like Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and Pete Richer – and not least our country. The Sunday Times was forced, after the fact and after tremendous damage being done to acknowledge the lies that were sensationally peddled as fact.

Lastly, we assure the broader workers movement in this country and all progressive forces, that AMCU is working tirelessly to find and have the perpetrators of these heinous crime prosecuted. We reiterate that any AMCU member found guilty of involvement in these killings will be immediately expelled.

Yours in Social Justice,
Mr Jeffrey Mphahlele
AMCU General Secretary
071 688 6707

For further inquiries, kindly contact Mr Joseph Mathunjwa, AMCU President at 076 3466 402