Ramaphosa: I wish I could've done more

Pretoria - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday that living conditions for many miners were "inhumane" and that he wished that he had done more as an executive at the platinum producer Lonmin to improve them.

His comments to an inquiry into the police slaying of 34 striking Lonmin miners two years ago were the latest sign of political pressure on mining companies to implement social obligations required by the government but poorly observed.

"Living conditions that workers were exposed to is not something I can proudly say I can be associated with. In fact, they are appalling and inhumane," Ramaphosa, a former mining trade unionist turned tycoon, said in his second day of testimony.

Ramaphosa, seen as the likely eventual successor to President Jacob Zuma, was a non-executive director at Lonmin when negotiations to halt a violent wildcat strike at its Marikana platinum mine west of Johannesburg ended in police shooting 34 strikers dead on 16 August 2012.

As well as investigating the shootings, the commission of inquiry has a remit to look into labour relations, pay and accommodation in mines - issues seen as spurring the strike that preceded the killings.

Ramaphosa highlighted the company practice of paying miners a "living out allowance" as one area of concern.

Miners, mostly rural migrants, often use that cash to rent hovels instead of proper housing because their wives and children are maintaining a plot in their home village while the miners also supporting a mistress and children near the mine. As a result, overcrowded shanty towns lacking basic services have sprung up around the mines.

"I should also have looked more closely at the unintended consequences that flowed from paying workers a living out allowance and finally getting to a point where they took the money and went to live in less than desirable accommodation," Ramaphosa said.

Government expresses concern

Mining companies are supposed to comply with a number of social and labour regulations, including providing proper housing, to help a mostly black labour force that was exploited and ill-treated under apartheid.

Bullion producer Gold Fields said this week it had received a letter from the government expressing concern about its social and labour plans, but did not think the licence of its flagship South Deep mine was in jeopardy.

Ramaphosa is the most prominent witness called by the probe into the Marikana killings, which began in October 2012.

The killings, the deadliest incident involving security forces since the end of apartheid in 1994, have become known as the "Marikana massacre".

Ramaphosa has been accused of putting political pressure on the police to use force against striking miners before the shooting, and was confronted at Monday's hearing by more than a dozen people chanting: "Blood on his hands!" He told the inquiry his intervention had been intended to prevent loss of life.

Made-In SA 2014/08/12 09:35:08 PM
The ANC can do more to curb corruption also.Starting by getting rid of the Corruptor in Chief.
Paul Dennis Murison 2014/08/12 09:38:32 PM
If only everyone could live together. What a place South Africa would be..
Thabisa Yvonne Matala-Zathu 2014/08/12 09:40:16 PM
I wish u can be punished fot what u did Ramaphosa There are many people who loose their lives there
Frederick Matome Mohale 2014/08/12 09:41:30 PM
thats y de mines nid to b nationalised,coz u capitalist cares only abt money,u're failing de masses
Erna Westdyk 2014/08/12 09:44:07 PM
What would be more impressive is if Ramaphosa did something now for the miners. If he can bid R18 million on a bull surely he can do something to those "inhumane" conditions. He should actually not even take a salary and use it to do good for his poor people!
mica gogome 2014/08/12 09:51:11 PM
Whatever the comments may be,but the miners started with the killing,and the need to disarm them was great and urgent to stop further killings.
Solomon Repeant 2014/08/12 09:55:24 PM
Does more policing mean killing ?lets have straight out put to these issue if the idea of increasing police was the purpose of killing .i agree with him that he put pressure to polce to have more police sent to save life theres no any statement where he have said shoot them ,,kill them ..but arrest the killers will be not be a rotten statement in any leadership.he is aleader and can command that soldiers and more police be sent to a situation wher police and aguard have already been killed.these commision seems as it worry of those killed by police not those killed by miners which is totally wrong and can mislead people 's understanding of the event which takes place
Please dont go 2014/08/12 09:56:30 PM
Amazing how stupid this man is. Does he not realise that Zuma is using Marikana to get rid of him and get another Zulu in to run the country!!!!
On The Edge 2014/08/12 09:58:42 PM
Leave this innocent man out of your sinister mindset! You have done and said nothing about a blatant corruptor, yet you find the time to vilify an innocent man... please spend your energy on those who have been proven to be guilty... mxm...
Disang Itumeleng 2014/08/12 10:03:25 PM
In the nutshell Mr Cereal admitted that Lonmin should have done better to engage minners on the boardroom than in the battlefield as ensued,perhaps possible loss of life and casualties could have been avoided,He had a duty to have forseen that failure to act in the manner prescribed on a labour disputes act may resulted in a pure economic loss for both parties but instead he opted to side with the Colonials, Therefore Cereal was reckless and negligent on his part,now a posible criminal liability can be charged against him.