'Foreign forces' behind S.Africa's platinum strike: ANC

8th June 2014, Comments 0 comments

South Africa's ruling party claimed "foreign forces" may be behind a lengthy platinum strike that has battered the continent's most developed economy, a top party official said on Sunday.

The ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, said a meeting of the party's highest decision-making body had looked into the causes behind the wage dispute, now in its fifth month.

"Of concern was whether this was really a collective bargaining strike or a political strike," said Mantashe, following the party's three-day national executive committee meeting that ended on Saturday.

Mantashe claimed that foreign nationals were spearheading the campaign by the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) that has shuttered the world's three biggest platinum producing firms.

He did not provide any proof or details to go with his allegations.

"It is a signal, small as it may sound, of foreign forces taking an active interest in destabilising South Africa and its economy," he said.

He also alleged that a senior official of the opposition leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, had been directly involved in the wage negotiations between the platinum mine owners and the union.

This involvement indicated "the collaboration between foreign forces and internal forces in destabilising the country and the economy," he said, again without providing any information to back his claims.

The ANC's claim came as time is running out for the two sides to reach a deal.

Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who has in recent days injected fresh impetus into stalled talks, announced on Saturday that government meditators will hold their last meeting with the union and platinum producers on Monday.

"I am pulling out on Monday" if they do not forge a deal, he said.

After months of standing on the sidelines, the government stepped in late last month to try to resolve the dispute that has sunk the economy into its first contraction since the global economic crisis five years ago, raising the spectre of recession.

The government became involved after several rounds of failed mediation that followed the downing of tools by 80,000 platinum mine workers at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin on January 23.

The AMCU had been demanding that the minimum monthly basic wage be doubled to $1,180 (865 euros), an amount the mining firms say they can't afford.

© 2014 AFP

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