South African President Jacob Zuma has argued that the mining sector in his country can afford to increase mine workers’ wages. Visiting the Rustenburg mine on Wednesday, Mr Zuma threatened companies that fail to raise workers’ housing standards with the cancellation of their mining licences. With his government under fire for allegedly putting corporate interests above worker rights, Mr Zuma expressed sympathy with some of the grievances expressed by the Marikana miners.
He told them that he “felt their pain” and promised a speedy and thorough investigation of the shootings. But fears expressed by analysts and industry executives that unrest could spread to other parts of the mining sector were given weight with reports of worker action at two other platinum mines. At least 500 workers at a shaft in the nearby Royal Bafokeng Platinum Mine downed tools Wednesday, demanding a pay increase and reportedly blocking fellow miners from going to work. The world’s top platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, said it had received a broad list of demands from its South African workers.