27 February 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) questions some of the choices made by the State President in the latest cabinet reshuffle announced last night. The Union’s main concern is around the choice of the new Minister of Mineral Resources, who is claimed to be compromised due to his past involvement in the Marikana Massacre.

It is the prerogative of the State President to appoint his cabinet ministers, but still it is important to make these choices wisely and carefully. While AMCU welcomes the appointment in key ministries such as Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Minister of State-Owned Entities (SOEs) Pravin Gordhan, the Union is puzzled by the appointment of ministers like Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and most notably Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Even though AMCU welcomes the replacement of the Gupta-linked former Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister Mantashe comes with his own skeletons in the closet. It is clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa does not fully comprehend that Minister Mantashe is seriously conflicted when it comes to the mining sector.

Already during the Farlam Commission it was pointed out that Minister Mantashe was involved in the events leading up to the Marikana Massacre. Evidence showed a clear agenda to destabilise AMCU, with his open loyalty to his former trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

AMCU fears that the close association between President Ramaphosa and Minister Mantashe will undoubtedly damage the integrity of the process. Both were ex-NUM members, both are leaders in the African National Congress (ANC), and both were intimately involved in the events surrounding the Marikana Massacre on the Platinum Belt.

It is also commonly known that the President interests in the mining sector, and now it seems that Minister Mantashe will act as a gatekeeper of sorts. This situation is unsustainable, and the President might face the stark reality of becoming guilty by association.

Right before the Marikana Massacre, President Ramaphosa called Minister Mantashe to a meeting. At the time he said that he was being called due to his former role as Secretary-General of the NUM. However, at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, the actual email showed him being

called in his capacity as Secretary-General of the ANC, and not as a former NUM leader. This made it crystal clear that President Ramaphosa wanted to hide the involvement of the ANC in the Massacre.

Workers in Marikana had a fear not to trust President Ramaphosa, and now it seems that this fear was not misplaced. One is left wondering how the President can pronounce his commitment to healing and closure in Marikana, when he makes such an insensitive move and quite literally rubs salt in the raw wounds of the families of the workers who were murdered in cold blood.

During the Five Months’ Strike it is on record that Minister Mantashe recalled the then Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) minister, Ngoako Ramathlodi from the negotiations when an agreement was about to be reached. This led to the prolonging of the strike and the suffering of many workers and their families.

As a stalwart from the AMCU-rival, the NUM, Minister Mantashe is also a clear enemy of AMCU, and it is very likely that he would have revenge. Even worse, one of his family members, Nkosinathi Mantashe, was implicated in the recent assassination of AMCU members in Marikana. It is clear that Minister Mantashe is completely conflicted. It looks like an effort to revive the NUM in the mining sector. Minister Mantashe is not a neutral person.

For interviews: President Joseph Mathunjwa (076-346-6402)