Lonmin and Amcu sign contentious deal

Deal comes ahead of Marikana anniversary and alongside the launch of a forum to stop violence in the area.

FILE: Amcu's Joseph Mathunjwa speaks at a media briefing on the peace deal with Lonmin. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Mining giant Lonmin and the Associated Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have signed a controversial recognition agreement just two days before the country commemorates last year's Marikana tragedy.

The company and union bosses have agreed on the framework for this year's wage talks and the role Amcu will play from now onwards.

Lonmin has confirmed Amcu now represents 60 percent of its employees.

Lonmin's new CEO Ben Magara says the agreement has been signed at a historic time in South Africa's history and follows robust engagement with Amcu.

"I'm delighted today that we are here to announce this agreement. We are also commemorating the week which changed our lives."

The agreement outlines the thresholds required for basic rights for unions.

Lonmin says Amcu currently represents just over 60 percent of its employees but has agreed to allow other minority unions to participate in this year's wage talks.

CRIME COMBATTING FORUM

Also on Wednesday, National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa launched the Mine Crime Combatting Forum to deal with the scourge of violence in the volatile North West mining district.

Phiyega says several cases related to on-going public violence in Marikana are on the court roll.

The police have been criticised for not doing enough to curb the violence and sporadic killings in the area since last August.

Since 44 people were killed during violent clashes between miners and police officers last year, several sporadic murders have taken place in the area and tensions continue to rise.

On Monday, a female shop steward affiliated to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Amcu's main rival, was shot dead outside Lonmin's Rowland shaft.

Phiyega says, as a nation, South Africa can restore stability to Marikana and surrounding areas, adding the new forum is aimed at promoting peace and rooting out the criminals.

"This one is specifically established to bring in customisation, specifically for the mines, because we noticed there are peculiar issues that we as partners should deal with."

She says police have continued to work on other cases from last year.

"We have 13 cases on the court role. Some have been postponed due to the sitting of the Farlam Commission, others are ready to proceed and ready for trial, and we have confidence that the perpetrators will be accordingly punished."

MARIKANA INQUIRY DRAGS ON

Meanwhile, The Marikana Commission of Inquiry into last year's tragedy will know by Monday whether the injured and arrested miners will have funds to continue their case.

An anonymous funder will give clarity on whether they will pay advocate Dali Mpofu's legal bills in order to represent the miners at the hearings.

The inquiry has been postponed several times this year and has been criticised for its slow progress a year after the deadly shootings.

Mpofu has signalled that he will take the matter to the Constitutional Court if he does not get the necessary funding.

With the potential anonymous funder, who might give some clarity next week, it is hoped the hearings will gain some momentum.

The commission head judge Ian Farlam has acknowledged the inquiry has not been speedy as expected. Phiyega has also called for things to be speeded up.

"We have to wait for this process to be completed and hopefully that day will not be delayed any further."

The commission has not yet completed phase one of the inquiry, which examines the police's conduct on the day of the shooting.

On Wednesday it emerged that a simultaneous translation service will be provided by the state in a bid to speed up the hearing.

The translation of evidence into various languages has been described by the chairperson of the commission as one of the main contributors to the slow pace.

The commission chair, retired judge Ian Farlam, today acknowledged that the commission has not been making the progress initially expected.