Monday, July 1, 2013

South Africa: Miners Digging into Despair

Until the lions have their historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter.
South African Proverb
President Obama has been on his three country African tour and at the same time a great leader and inspiration for the world, Nelson Mandela, finds himself close to knocking on heaven's door. Nelson Mandela was a peaceful freedom fighter. Regardless of his current health conditions and the amount of time he has left on this earth, he can be considered in the history books to go with great activists like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  As we wish for the good health of Mandela this post will focus on some of the problems still faced in South Africa. In particular, our attention can be directed to the problems the miners in South Africa (SA) face now. Many of these problems have been ravaging the country for years. Post-Apartheid SA has seen many hardships and many of the citizens of African descent, still feel the colonial oppression their fathers endured. The same pressures that Nelson Mandela fought and was jailed for are terrorizing his compatriots today.
The western world decisively plays down the injustices and murders carried out against the South African miners. Very little mainstream news sheds light on the atrocities carried out because it is not in the interest of the powers that be. In fact, it is the complete opposite of their interest. Numerous minerals are taken at vast amounts in the rape of Africa. While South Africa produces 75% of the world’s platinum, little profit makes its way to the ones mining it. Tens of thousands of SA miners went on strike last year to protest the conditions in which they work in, as well as their treatment. Clashes with the police left many strikers at the world's third biggest platinum producer, Lonmin, dead in what has been known as the “Marikana Massacre”. This post will address these wrongs to the miners, as well as a glimpse of the problems faced before the climax last year.

The site is the Lonmin PLC mine approximately 65 miles outside the city of Johannesburg. August 10th, 2012, 3,000 workers went on strike protesting the minimal wages they were given. To voice their anger against mistreatment; about 10,000 miners went on strike at a gold mine demanding pay raises earlier that year. The average employee there made about $570/month equating to just about $3.56/hr based on an average 40 hour work week. This figure drops significantly when one factors in the extremely long hours on any given week that is worked. Likewise, the platinum miners were demanding pay increases. On August 16th, a battle between striking workers and police erupted into one the of the deadliest days in years. "The police duly opened fire with rifles and handguns. The police claim the miners fired first, but irrespective of who initiated the confrontation, such horrendous loss of life is wholly unacceptable and the police's decision to use live ammunition must be questioned." Daily Mail
Some mine strikers carrying spears and machetes were met with great police opposition. Shots were fired into the crowds and at the end of the carnage 34 people had lost their lives. Not since the end of Apartheid had there been such a bloody day. A sad, sad day, one in which emphasized the false sense of a dissipated colonial regime. On the same hand, the conditions in which SA miners work have not really changed since the end of apartheid. A case brought to life by a former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employee, sheds light on the continued injustices based on the past.

"The miners reported sickness and even hundreds of deaths from vanadium poisoning to me while I served in the EPA's Office of International Activities in 1995. I forwarded this information to then-administrator Browner on several occasions and by various means. In 1996 several NGOs, including TransAfrica, contacted Browner's office about the vanadium poisoning tragedy and met with the then-Assistant Administrator who ran the OIA. Beyond lip service, the agency did little to address the plight of the mine workers, their families, and communities and then reneged on the feeble commitment it made to investigate the mining conditions." 
These illnesses which included: tongues turning green, bronchitis, asthma, bleeding from nearly every orifice of the body, and impotence in young healthy male workers, have and had killed many miners. Vanadium is a precious mineral that helps the tempering and changes the physical properties of steel specifically for weaponry purposes. These illnesses were reported to the EPA and were supposed to be investigated at the time. That however never happened. As expected, the western initiatives bypassed the concerns of the people being affected. The EPA failed to investigate; letting these big businesses continue the unethical excavation of South Africa's natural resources. These sweat shop like conditions clearly show the capitalism infused government, poses little threat to these western companies.
Much like we find in America the ruling class in South Africa, despite being native South Africans themselves, have adopted the same culture and ideals of the white oppressive predecessors. This was quite evident in the
Marikana Massacre when video showed it was in fact many native South African police officers that opened fire on the striking miners. Unfortunately like multiple countries affected by western rule, capitalism, disguised as democracy, has corrupted those in charge of the people. This allows for the exploitation and oppression for the profit motive.  
South African miners face sometimes horrific illness, low wages, and as discussed earlier even death when speaking out against their treatment. As the world turns its back on the plight of these miners it is up to the average citizen to be aware of these atrocities and speak out against them. The treatment of these workers reflects a global representation of the employee/employer relationship. Corporations should not be able to view human beings as commodities and squeeze the life out of their workers, quite literally, for profits. As the world awaits the fate of Nelson Mandela we can mediate on his words.
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” 



  1. Miners are doing great job and participating in the work to develop the South Africa. South Africa has vast quantity of different minerals and metals for mining but no one seriously work for the safety and development of the miners.

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  2. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog James. I'm not sure what you are trying to say here. Do you believe the miners have been treated fairly?

  3. Hey, I hope you're not that fucking retarded that you actually believe that shit. Ponyfags, jack it to the show and should all burn for eternity. Have a good day sir <3
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    1. So you believe that South African miners are making the money they deserve and are getting treated fairly?

  4. Hey! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for

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  5. Hi! I read your writing. That is a very interesting.So, I love everything. I say that The western world decisively plays down the treacheries and killings did against the South African mine workers. Next to no mainstream news reveals insight into the outrages did on the grounds that it is not in light of a legitimate concern for the forces that be. Actually, it is the complete inverse of their advantage. Thanks All!!

    1. Appreciate the comment and definitely agree. Please share the blog among your friends.