Impala Platinum Mines, a subsidiary of IMPLATS, opened its first mining shafts in around 1968 on land claimed by communities forming the Bafokeng Traditional Community. Under the leadership and authority of the Bafokeng chieftaincy, Implats has since opened more than 18 Shafts surrounding the village of Luka. It is off this land that Implats was dubbed the second highest platinum producer in the world.
Ironically, the abovementioned 20 000 strong village of Luka, has never enjoyed the proceeds from mining development on their land. The immeasurable cost and damage of Impala’s operations on the local environment and the Luka community as a whole is well documented.
It is against this backdrop that the communities of Luka and Maile lodged in February 2014, a formal appeal with the Minister of Mineral Resources against the renewal of Impala’s mining license, due then for expiry in 2018.
Despite above formal appeal and a commitment by the Minister to investigate the grounds of appeal, no investigations were ever conducted, and no further response on the appeal furnished.
AMCU has enjoyed the dominant majority labour union at Impala (Luka). Over 5 000 of AMCU members reside in backyard dwellings rented in Luka village. It is said the ANC would have lost the two wards in Luka in the last Local Government elections had the EFF not given up on pursuing vote-rigging allegations against ANC registered at the time. Luka community, together with AMCU members had voted the ANC out of power in mine-hosting villages forming Bafokeng.
It is no secret that AMCU dominance in mining companies operating on Bafokeng land is despised by local ANC and certain captured senior Bafokeng executives. It is clear AMCU will lose its majority status and membership favour at Impala, and will have many of its members resigning or their jobs unlawfully terminated.
The abovementioned retrenchments are nothing else but an ill-informed political ploy by the ANC and monopoly capital to weaken EFF performance at the next elections.
It would further be interesting to know if Impala’s mining license has been renewed without our community consent, and despite above objections. It would be very interesting to know what the economic projections in Impala’s application for mining license renewal are, and whether Impala was granted a renewal on false promises of economic growth and job creation.
It is our considered view that the current low prices on Platinum Group Metals are manipulated, possibly as a veiled attack on progressive labour forces in this country, and in response to the broader radical transformation agenda unfolding in the country.
We hope the left forces in this country: Communities, CBOs, the EFF, NUMSA and AMCU will find each other in response to these senseless retrenchments, and in ensuring that jobs and affected local economies are saved, and the final demise of imperialist economic terrorism in this country.