SACP challenges Minister Zwane‚ Cosatu calls for boycott of Lily Mine commemoration


SACP challenges Minister Zwane‚ Cosatu calls for boycott of Lily Mine commemoration

TMG Digital | 2017-02-02 12:51:39.0

Mosebenzi Zwane, mineral resources minister.

Image by: Getty images

The Lily Mine remembrance ceremony on Sunday‚ one year after Pretty Nkambule‚ Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyarende were killed in an accident at the gold mine‚ is morally obscene and a futile gesture‚ says the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

Its alliance partner‚ the South African Communist Party‚ is so angry that money promised to the families has not been paid‚ it even wants a Cabinet Minister to pay out of his own pocket.

The trio were trapped underground on 5 February 2016 after a lamp room container in which they were working fell as a result of a land subsidence at the Lily Vantage Gold Mine in Barberton‚ Mpumalanga province. Their bodies could not be retrieved. Seventy six of their co-workers were rescued.

“We note that in the aftermath of the accident‚ Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane promised R200‚000 each to the families of Nkambule‚ Mnisi and Nyarende‚ and R50‚000 each to the families of the workers who survived.

This unprocedural‚ populist promise has not been honoured. Minister Zwane must either compensate the families out of his own pocket‚ or profusely apologise to all affected‚” the SACP said in a statement issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo‚ its national spokesperson.

Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla also called out the Minister and his department “for treating the Lily Mine workers shabbily and with outmost disdain”.

“Minister Mosebenzi Zwane did not even attend a meeting between Cosatu and the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources (in parliament) that was convened to discuss the Lily Mine Tragedy and other issues. We reiterate our position that Minister Mosebenzi Zwane should be fired. He is clearly out of his depth and cannot be trusted to bring about the urgent and necessary changes in the mining sector.”

In addition to Zwane‚ Cosatu also challenged government as a whole‚ members of parliament and the mine bosses.

“The state in its entirety has spectacularly failed the workers and their families‚” said Cosatu’s Pamla.

“The federation also abhors the indifference and cavalier way that our elected representatives in parliament have treated the Lily Mine issue. They have done very little to ensure justice for the Lily Mine workers and are yet to push for a fully fledged investigation despite suspicions that the Lily Mine sinkholes might have been caused by human conduct.

“Cosatu still demands a commission of enquiry to explore whether the accident could have been avoided if proper planning‚ maintenance and early detection measures had been carried out.”

Urging a boycott of Sunday’s commemoration of the mine accident‚ Cosatu asked trade unions across the political spectrum to join them in demanding that the money due to be spent on the ceremony instead go towards helping the miners now out of work as well as to retrieve the bodies of the three deceased miners.

The commemorative event being planned by the Lily Mine Company “is not just a breach of taste but it is an act of provocation and a futile gesture that is both morally obscene and ethically profane”‚ said Pamla.

“We reiterate our demand for the mine management and the Department of Mineral Resources’ to fulfill and honour the many promises that were made to the workers and their families. Some workers were promised alternative employment and others were promised payments but nothing has happened since those promises were made.

“It is pure arrogance for the company to be planning remembrance ceremonies‚ while they have failed the poor workers and their families.”

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