State, mine bosses and unions must work together
The Times Editorial: The government, mine owners and unions need to do everything in their power to ensure that the unrest raging in the platinum sector - fanned by the Marikana massacre - does not spread throughout the mining industry.
Disgruntled workers at some gold mines have launched illegal strikes, some making the same wage demands - R12500 a month - as the Lonmin miners. Yesterday, four protesting workers at Gold One's Modder East mine, near Springs, on the East Rand, were injured when security guards opened fire on them. Mercifully, the guards used rubber bullets.
Working and living conditions differ markedly on gold and platinum mines - and among mines in each sector. The Modder East wage strike has also been under way since early June, but yesterday the strikers were making the same wage demands as their Marikana counterparts.
It is a rallying cry that has been adroitly used by that arch-opportunist, Julius Malema - who has been campaigning furiously at Marikana and on the more marginal gold mines as his movement to depose President Jacob Zuma as ANC president gains momentum.
Miners who have been laid off or are forced to labour for little pay on marginal operations are proving to be fertile ground for the well-heeled Malema's messages. Those who are better paid at more profitable operations will prove less so.
But there is a danger that the truth - that the forced nationalisation of the mines and banks is a shocking idea that would bring our already struggling economy to its knees - will be drowned out by the populist clamour.
Susan Shabangu, the minerals and energy minister, is correct in insisting that the mining industry needs to rapidly accelerate its transformation to ensure its legitimacy.
Equally, local authorities and mine owners need to jack up the living conditions of the communities that have sprung up alongside the mines, and the unions need to keep urging their members not to swallow populist propaganda.