South Africa’s mining industry has been in a state of unrest for the past several months. Over 80,000 miners have left their posts since the strike began, and they are oftentimes met with violent retaliation from the government. This past Thursday when the Gold Fields’ miners returned to work, it seemed like a step in the right direction until a recent uproar at the Lonmin’s Marikana goldmine, the same plant where some 34 workers were murdered in August during a fatal encounter with the South African police force. Overall, South African industry has not seen such turmoil since the Apartheid era, which officially ended nearly two decades ago.
In light of the fragile state of affairs in South Africa right now, President Jacob Zuma has made his first official response to the strikes and the consequent violence. Last Thursday, President Zuma said, “We are agreed that violence and intimidation must come to an end; these have no role in our system and simply have a negative effect.” He went on to say that the CEOs, executive directors and top leaders in the private sector should agree to a pay freeze in the upcoming year to help ease the country’s economic crisis. Though the president was certainly well intentioned his critics chastise Zuma, saying he should lead by example and be the first among the wealthy to take a pay-cut himself. This would be in the fashion of Malawi President Joyce Banda, who recently took a huge 30% executive pay cut in order to help her country’s economy. Gold Fields’ employees returning to work is a positive turn in the South African mining crisis, but the fact remains that Standard and Poor’s has just reduced South Africa’s credit rating in light of the mining industry’s current crisis. Hopefully, the nation will continue to find reasonable and beneficial ways to deal with their present condition.
For the full article cited, please see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/18/jacob-zuma-south-africa-freeze-pay.