Open letter to the Farlam Commission regarding: “Social conditions at South African mines; miners’ monies invested, but they see no dividends” from Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) (30 April 2013)

Dear Sir

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) believes that the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the tragic incident at the Marikana Mine would not be complete if the Commission does not look at the social conditions of the miners and the communities that surround mining activities.

Part of the unhappiness that led to the strikes we have seen in the mining industry is caused by the exploitation of mineworkers by both the employers and the unions who claim to represent their best interests. In particular, unions take their members’ monies and tell them it will be invested in schemes such as provident funds and other investment opportunities.

Although union members diligently contribute to these schemes, of the investment arms of the trade unions, they never receive the dividends. This worrying trend is witnessed when we talk to ex-mineworkers who say they have never benefited from these schemes and are unlikely to. The organisations that represent these ex-mineworkers have been sent from pillar to post by the Departments of Labour and Health in their search for their monies. They have approached Parliament and the Office of the President for assistance, to no avail.

For the Commission to find a sustainable solution, and to avoid a repetition of the Marikana tragedy, we advise that you solicit information about these provident funds and so-called investments arms of the unions. The Commission could summon the South African Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers, the Department of Labour and the Department of Health to explain where the mineworkers’ monies are.

If the Commission winds up without attending to these deep-seated worries of the miners, there will be no end in sight to the wildcat strikes we see in the mining industry. With the issues affecting the miners and their families, and their highly emotive nature, each strike we see in future has the potential to escalate into tragedy.

If the Commission investigates the matter of the investment of mineworkers’ monies, show them the truth and give them the answers they need, it has a unique opportunity to address one of the root causes of miners’ complaints once and for all.

Kindly advise

Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement