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Cabinet 'worried' about Marikana

Cabinet on Thursday called on all stakeholders to resolve the ongoing dispute in Marikana.

Marikana miners downed tools following the deaths of three people on 14 May 2013. Picture: Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Cabinet on Thursday expressed concern over the situation in Marikana and appealed to the leadership of both unions to resolve their dispute.

Tensions between rival unions the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) led to workers downing tools earlier this week.

Lonmin management was also encouraged to deal with the matter urgently.

Minister Edna Molewa said cabinet was worried about the standoff between the rival unions and warned the repercussions of unrest in the mining industry could be wide.

"We are concerned that this could not just affect Marikana but the entire country. For example, we are worried about the effects it may have on the economy."

Cabinet decided the team of ministers sent in the wake of the Marikana tragedy in 2012 should return.

However, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa are currently with President Jacob Zuma on a state visit to Russia and that leaves Labour Minister Mildred Olifant to do what she can.

On Tuesday, miners took part in an illegal strike at the mine.

Amcu was demanding that NUM vacate its offices as it was no longer a majority union at Marikana.

The mine said the strike was illegal and unprotected. It called on the workers to return to work.

The miners returned to work on Wednesday night.

In August, at least 34 miners were killed during clashes with police in Marikana.

The miners were protesting for better salaries at the time.

The police maintain they shot at the miners as they feared their lives were in danger.

A commission which is chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam is currently underway to establish what exactly happened.

Meanwhile, South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima on Wednesday said the situation in Marikana would not affect tourism numbers.

He said tourists were able to distinguish it was a labour issue and not a reflection of the country.