Has the post-Apartheid bubble burst?

Honestly, I'm not sure that people scattered across the country will have anything pertinent to the commission of inquiry. It's not a court case, it's an inquest. The start has delayed too long already, it's important to get information before it disappears.

If the commission finds that there is grounds for a case, then everyone will have their day in court.


"S.Africa's Amplats fires 12,000 strikers, union leader shot execution style."

With the prices of precious metals these days, refusing to give the workers raises is obscene.

Malor wrote:

With the prices of precious metals these days, refusing to give the workers raises is obscene.

Really, how greedy can they be? As it is, all of this flak that has resulted from their actions surely will cost far more for them.

But, if they start making as much as they should be making, that means they'll be able to develop real power, and then maybe they might start making demands like decent working conditions, and we can't have that.

Malor wrote:

But, if they start making as much as they should be making, that means they'll be able to develop real power, and then maybe they might start making demands like decent working conditions, and we can't have that.

Uppity miners thinking they are entitled to humane treatment and rights.

Should I bother to interject? Or have you guys settled on righteous indignation as the default position? In which case you're welcome to it.

Righteous indignation works for me. When gold is at $1,800 an ounce, and these guys are making $30/mo, righteous indignation seems entirely appropriate, no?

And then they apparently outright shot the union leader, execution-style. What other position am I supposed to hold?

I'd rather read Mr. Devil's interesting and unique perspective than you two guys act like maroons. Can we keep this thread informative?

Malor wrote:

Righteous indignation works for me. When gold is at $1,800 an ounce, and these guys are making $30/mo, righteous indignation seems entirely appropriate, no?

And then they apparently outright shot the union leader, execution-style. What other position am I supposed to hold?

Firstly, people are making significantly more than $30/mo. It's closer to $900, which I agree isn't enough, but it's 30x more than the number you seem to have.

Secondly, the only claim of 'execution' is from a single union boss, whose own organisation shares a significant portion of responsibility for the giant clusterf*ck. I'm no expert on capital punishment, but I've never heard of a style of execution that involves a fusillade of rubber bullets and tear gas, which you would see is how this new tragedy took place according to the linked article.

So no, misinformed righteous indignation has no place here.

I'm more than happy to provide perspective, but I won't do so if people aren't going to bother to check a few facts before they start echoing sound bytes at each other.

Sorry, MrDevil, mayhaps I jumped ze gun.

Sorry, MrDevil, mayhaps I jumped ze gun.

ZaneRockfist wrote:

Sorry, MrDevil, mayhaps I jumped ze gun.

It's all good man.

I'm a leftist with an anarchist bent myself so I can be quick to attack corporations. But I'm also a realist and getting into a round of pithy comments not only ignores the subtleties of the situation, but also undermines the seriousness by making it ridiculous.

And the fact is the corporations here are not the main bad guys.

That Reuters piece you linked is really rather excellent, so when I get a chance I'll go through it and do a bit of commentary. It's a bit late now and I just want to unwind, so I'll try do it in the morning my side.

Okay, so I have a few minutes, I'll share some info.

First off I need to address this idea that the miners are poorly paid. The basic salary for an underground worker before the strikes started was R9000/mo. So in current exchange rates that's $1024. I don't like to talk about that I earn specifically, but it's currently a lot lower than $1000, I am looking for a senior level restaurant job that will take me to just over $1000, which I will be able to settle some debt, pay rent on an apartment and start putting money aside for my wedding and a car. So while the miners don't make a huge amount of cash, and do one of the most unpleasant jobs on the planet, it is a very livable amount of money.

I wouldn't do it for what they earn, but I wouldn't do it for twice what they earn.

Okay, let me pick some points out of the Reuters article.

South Africa's Amplats fired 12,000 wildcat strikers on Friday, a high-stakes attempt by the world's biggest platinum producer to push back at a wave of illegal stoppages sweeping through the country's mining sector and beyond.

Okay, so 12000 people were fired, that sucks for them and their dependents, but the simple fact is the strike is illegal. There are mechanisms for striking and they haven't been followed. The workers could go through the union, have negotiations, then if they are not met file a notice to strike and do so. It's not that complicated, people strike all the time. This hasn't happened.

The reason for this is, however, not simple.

It's because of another huge failure and betrayal by the unions. The National Union of Mineworkers, NUM, is an affiliate of COSATU, the largest conglomeration of unions, and COSATU is part of the tripartheid alliance that rules the country along with the ANC and the South African Communist Party. The support of COSATU is largely to thank for our current, startlingly incompetent and immoral President.

The way it works here is the President of the ANC becomes the candidate for President of the country and since nobody will beat the ANC anytime soon the ANC Presidency is the de facto national Presidency. The ANC elective conference is coming up in November, I think, and there is a strong challenge within the ANC for a much stronger candidate than Zuma. But COSATU can't admit they backed a lame donkey in a horse race, so are being very careful not to upset the applecart and make Zuma look any less competent than he already does. So they are not supporting strike actions and have left a hole, suggested here:

A six-week stoppage at Lonmin in August and September erupted out of a turf war between the NUM and the more militant Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which accuses the NUM of acting for its government allies rather than its members.

The strike is a play by the new union to grow its power, unfortunately starting a new union isn't all that simple apparently so the people striking aren't actually union members and are therefore unprotected.


To a slightly different issue.

After the Marikana tragedy the mining company Lonmin agreed to a 22% wage increase for the illegally striking miners. This is a huge problem. It's undermined the authority of the unions and opened the door for more illegal strikes. I don't know why Lonmin would have done this, maybe because they couldn't survive a continued stoppage, maybe because the company management didn't want anymore deaths, probably a combination of both.

Amplats had to make a stand so the firings were inevitable. While commodity prices aren't affected by costs of production, a sudden spiral of illegal strikes and subsequent wage increases 4x higher than current inflation rates in other industries would become hyper inflationary. And the mining industry is one of the few big enough to make a stand.


That's all I can say for now. Will do a bit more later.

I thought I'd share something a bit interesting and different here. People may or may not be familiar with Steve Biko. He was a major anti-Apartheid leader who formulated the idea of Black Consciousness, a very interesting political theory that challenges the attitudes of white liberals like myself that race doesn't exist.

In a nutshell

The BCM attacked what they saw as traditional white values, especially the 'condescending' values of white people of liberal opinion. They refused to engage white liberal opinion on the pros and cons of black consciousness, and emphasized the rejection of white monopoly on truth as a central tenet of their movement. While this philosophy at first generated disagreement amongst black anti-Apartheid activists within South Africa, it was soon adopted by most as a positive development. As a result, there emerged a greater cohesiveness and solidarity amongst black groups in general, which in turn brought black consciousness to the forefront of the anti-Apartheid struggle within South Africa.

It's about people owning their 'Blackness' and not having their experiences, based on race dismissed.

Anyway, that's not what this is about. Biko was killed in detention in 1977 (Interestingly his murder was exposed by a young, white, female journalist called Helen Zille, now the leader of the opposition party) and the Google Cultural Exhibit has a fascinating exhibition about him here.

There's also one about Mandela.

He sounds quite a bit like Malcolm X in his NOI days (I have at long last gotten to his autobio), though the way his Wikipedia entry is written, they were parallel thinkers. I buy that, I'm fascinated by what I see as the equilibrium of ideas. It seems he and X were both influenced by Marcus Garvey, so, heh, only natural.

Malcolm X pre-Hajj wouldn't have thought much of me, and I guess it seems Mr. Biko would have felt the same about you, D, but I think the best take away from both is this: There's nothing wrong with being proud of your background, but there's something very wrong with being held back because of it.

Thanks for these, sir. And I ain't said it before, but thanks for this thread. As a child of the 80's, South Africa has some mindshare--hello, Lethal Weapon 2--but I don't hear about the current situation often through news channels, so I'm grateful for the native perspective.

Yeah, the little I know about Malcolm X does suggest very strong parallels. I think something like Black Consciousness is an important step in any civil rights movement, it's about the under privileged taking control of the discourse from those of privilege who are trying to set the terms.

I'm glad these posts are appreciated. I also appreciate the occasional acknowledgment that I'm not talking to myself.

I don't appreciate being reminded about the accents in Lethal Weapon 2 though *shudder* Although in many ways it's probably a semi-accurate snapshot of a small aspect of what things were like back in the day. Danny Glover going to apply for a visa comes to mind.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I don't appreciate being reminded about the accents in Lethal Weapon 2 though *shudder* Although in many ways it's probably a semi-accurate snapshot of a small aspect of what things were like back in the day. Danny Glover going to apply for a visa comes to mind.

Definitely not talking to yourself. And, surely, this excuses all, don't it?

Yeah, I'm reading everything in here, just don't have much to add. I find this interesting in much the same way I find the Mexico Drug War thread interesting, but I don't know enough facts about either to really weigh in.

I suspect there's rather a lot of us.

Cool, glad to know there is an audience here.

15,000 - 23,500 more illegally striking miners are facing the axe, but some seem to be returning to work.

Government and President Showerhead have finally spoken up and called for people to return to work, and address issues through the proper channels. About f*cking time too, we have had our first credit downgrade from S&P in over a decade.

Well, after you schooled me a couple of weeks back, I figured I should oughta shut the hell up. But I'm still reading.

I would also love to read more if any new events occur. Even though I have nothing constructive to add.



Well, here's a thing.

Sobering and insightful piece from The Economist.

Sad South Africa
Cry, the beloved country

The worst part:

In the past decade Africa to the north of the Limpopo river has been growing at an annual average clip of 6%, whereas South Africa’s rate for the past few years has slowed to barely 2%. Rating agencies have just downgraded South Africa’s sovereign debt. Mining, once the economy’s engine, has been battered by wildcat strikes, causing the biggest companies to shed thousands of jobs in the face of wage demands and spreading violence. In August a confrontation at a platinum mine in Marikana, near Johannesburg, the commercial capital, led to 34 deaths at the hands of the police. Foreign investment is drying up. Protests against the state’s failure to provide services are becoming angrier. Education is a disgrace: according to the World Economic Forum, South Africa ranks 132nd out of 144 countries for its primary education and 143rd in science and maths. The unemployment rate, officially 25%, is probably nearer 40%; half of South Africans under 24 looking for work have none. Of those who have jobs, a third earn less than $2 a day. Inequality has grown since apartheid, and the gap between rich and poor is now among the world’s largest.

An interesting response, and call to action, to the education part in particular is here. I'm definitely going to do as Molefe suggests.

I’m writing to Hope Malgas, chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education, demanding that she call Motshekga before the committee to explain why she is wasting time and taxpayer funds in fighting the court case and in effect dooming millions of kids to learning in an unsanitary and unsafe environment that is not conducive to education. I’m going to remind Ms Malgas what the FFC said and remind her, cordially and firmly, that as someone whose will she represents, I will not accept the excuse that these kids right to education is subject to ”budgetary constraints” and “the limitation of available resources”, as Motshekga is set to argue in the court case.

I’m going to tell Ms Malgas that the department’s poor performance can’t be ignored and she should use every power available to her as the committee’s chairperson to ensure that there are consequences.

My request to you reading this is that you do the same and you tell your friends to do the same and their friends and so forth. I’m not going to give you a standard template on which you only need affix your name. Making this democracy work requires, well, work. Her e-mail address is hmalgas[at]parliament.gov.za. You can call her, too. Her office number is 021-403-3764 and mobile number is 083-709-8450.

This is so sad. South Africa is near the top of the list of places we want to visit next in our ongoing international travels. We've heard nothing but good things. Not saying we're not going to go, just that the country has been on our minds and the news of what's happening there is disheartening.

Well, it's still a cool place to visit, and sh*t shouldn't hit the fan too badly in the next few years. If you're in my area we must definitely go for a beer and I'll show you around.

Just saw something on TV that seriously blew my f*cking mind. I need to keep an eye out on the Financial Mail website this week for the follow up article. It's about a veeeerrryyyyy shady Black Economic Empowerment deal that Goldfields offered. It was supposed to be targeted at workers and local communities, but mostly celebrities, convicted crooks and family members of ANC members of parliament benefited.

Poignant opinion piece about events at Marikana.

Just two days before 112 people were shot, I spoke to Daluvuyo Bongo, the NUM secretary at Lonmin. He sounded absolutely petrified on the phone. His most repeated phrase was “I just don’t know what to do anymore.” He said he was in hiding because people wanted to kill him. At the time, the gravity of the situation hadn’t quite dawned on me yet (Oppikoppi hangovers typically last for up to two weeks) and while he proved to be a very useful source who could provide accurate information, it didn’t occur to me to ask personal questions that would not feature in my stories.

I took leave in the midst of the Marikana mess, and did not so much as open my email accounts or Twitter page for about 10 days. When I finally did peek at the news accounts on the interwebs, I was confronted with the news that the “NUM local secretary at NUM was killed in Lonmin’s hostels”. It was Mr Bongo.


Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has dubbed the protests in the townships surrounding Johannesburg “the ring of fire”. Those people also feel like that nobody listens to them, so they have to do something spectacular (and often terrible) to be noticed.

They know that we the press only showed up in Marikana when people started dying. We know that they know.

What a horrible bloody mess.

I don’t know how many children have been orphaned by Mr Bongo’s death. I don’t know how many friends of family have deep wounds, which nothing will ever heal, for his murder. I don’t even know what he looks like. He was just the grass that got trampled when the elephants fought.

But his life is not less significant than anyone else’s just because he didn’t have a corner office and a Jaguar in the garage. For that alone, it seems like all the days I have spent talking to people in all those mining communities have been a waste of time.


And something a bit more cheerful, a profile of Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector. Something of a hero of mine.

She's uncomfortably independent and public, something the ANC doesn't like. They like boot lickers and secrecy.

"Public Protector" sounds like an office I could get behind. What are its duties?

It's a very heavy duty office. The office basically exists to oversee government spending, operations and investigate corruption. She conducts investigations if requested by members of the public and makes recommendations to parliament regarding actions to take.

The Protectors authority extends over national and provincial government and all state entities like parastatal companies. It doesn't extend over the judiciary, that is fully independent. She can recommend legal action and can subpoena witnesses though.

The Protector is appointed by the President, but can only be fired with a 2/3 majority of parliament, one of the reasons it's important to mobilise all non-ANC voters when election time rolls around.

Her most recent success was getting the Commissioner of Police axed for a dodgy real estate deal, her current case is an investigation into the government funding of a huge development in the Presidents sh*t-hole home town.

That sounds awesome, wide-reaching, and unfortunately unwieldy for the US. And obviously it would interfere with the states' rights to be as corrupt as they want. How recent an addition is it?

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

"Public Protector" sounds like an office I could get behind. What are its duties?

Also, does it have a snazzy costume, or perhaps some kind of power staff?