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Malema says party to fund S.African platinum strike

South African politician Julius Malema said Saturday his EFF party — the country’s third-largest after this week’s elections — will give money to platinum miners going without wages during a months-long strike.

Left-leaning Malema supports the protracted stoppages by over 80,000 members of the radical Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at the world’s top three platinum producers.

“We are going to contribute money to AMCU,” he told a news conference in the capital Pretoria.

The money would go towards supporting miners with financial difficulties, he added, without divulging how much the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party would donate.

The strikers have gone without salaries for over 15 weeks since the strike started to demand that the entry-level wage be more-than doubled.

AMCU members at Anglo American Platinum, Lonmin and Impala Platinum want 12,500 rand ($1,207, 880 euro) basic pay. Their union gained massive traction when it used the figure as rallying call during violent unrests on the platinum belt two years ago.

Employers have offered the sum in a package that includes salary and cash allowances, saying they cannot afford to pay a 12,500 basic salary.

Talks between the miners and AMCU have collapsed. But Malema said the strike must continue.

“Let those mines not operate until our people get what they want,” he said.

“We are tired of the exploitation of our workers by white capital.”

The EFF will enter parliament only a few months after it was founded, having won 6.35 percent of Wednesday’s vote, behind the ruling African National Congress (62.15 percent) and main opposition the Democratic Alliance (22.23 percent).

Its radical policies advocating the nationalisation of mines and expropriation without compensation of white-owned land appealed to voters frustrated with a jobless rate of over 25 percent and rampant poverty.