Findings on Marikana Conditions
The Portfolio Committee on Mineral resources has received a briefing from the Benchmarks Foundation, on living conditions around the Marikana area.
The research by the foundation was conducted prior to the Marikana uprising which occurred last month. Briefing the Committee this week the Foundation’s Chief Researcher Mr David Van Wyk said the unemployment level of the Bojanala district (which includes Marakina) was 43.8%.
“There is a huge unemployment of young people and this is a recipe for disaster. Since August last year there have been uprisings in the area when the community stopped Lonmin operations for two weeks demanding jobs. Marikana did not start only last month,” Mr Van Wyk said.
According to the report no empowerment opportunities were being provided to local communities, and mining companies used outside labour.
The research revealed high levels of abuse of women in the shafts and women from neighbouring countries were used as sex slaves by mine workers. The report rapped mining companies for their lack of corporate social responsibility.
“Mining companies have moved away from ensuring local communities are empowered by providing adequate skills and education. Back in the 1960s companies had programmes and ran colleges for apprentices. All of that stopped in 1994,” said Mr. Van Wyk.
“There is a huge gap in communication between local government, mining companies and the various departments. There is no coordination in programmes when venturing into social responsibility projects and that creates a huge problem in the communities,” he said.
Committee member Ms Faith Bikani, said this was “a sad report, indicating the vast amount of work that must still be done from Parliament’s side. Somewhere, somehow we need to make changes in our approach when going on oversight.”
Ms. Bikani said the problems were the same as those the Committee had come across during oversight and when engaging with communities.
“In our next visit we should look into going into local government in particular before going into mining areas so that we can determine from them what are their Integrated Development Plans entail and to what extent they resolve their local service delivery issues. It does appear that someone is not doing their job well,” she said.
She suggested that the top ten mining houses should be invited to public hearings because it seemed that they were being evasive.