5 March 2014
The government will spend R2.7-billion this financial year on upgrading miners’ housing, particularly in the platinum belt in North West province, as part of a series of interventions aimed at stabilising South Africa’s mining industry.
“The mining sector remains a major contributor to economic growth and employment,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said at a post-State of the Nation Address briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“Therefore, government has led an initiative, together with mining companies and unions, to ensure the implementation of key agreements that seek to stabilise the industry.”
Following the Marikana tragedy of August 2012, in which 44 people lost their lives in strike-related unrest in North West province, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe led talks with mining companies and unions that resulted in the signing of a framework agreement aimed at stabilising the industry.
The key points agreed to by the government, mining companies and unions included:
- strengthening regulatory certainty in mining through the streamlining of authorisation processes;
- establishing mine crime combating forums in North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Free State and Gauteng;
- prioritisation of mine disputes by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA); and
- reducing employee indebtedness.
Patel said the R2.7-billion budget allocation towards the Human Settlements Development Grant was part of these interventions.
Human Settlements Minister Connie September said the grant would “enable us to continue those projects that have been identified, particularly in the mining houses in the North West area”.
On the issue of reducing indebtedness among miners – seen as one the contributors to violent labour unrest on the mines – Patel said the National Credit Regulator had closed down 12 “unscrupulous” micro-lenders in North West province.
Sanitation backlog reduced
More generally, Patel said the government had been addressing challenges related to sanitation in the country.
According to the 2011 Census, South Africa’s sanitation backlog had been reduced from five-million in 1994 to 2.4-million in 2011.
“This is further being reduced by the bucket [system] eradication programme and general sanitation roll-out, in a joint venture by the department of Human Settlements, Water Affairs and Cooperative Governance.
“The immediate target is to eradicate bucket sanitation in formalised townships within the shortest period,” Patel said, noting that basic sanitation services “contribute to the improvement of people’s wellbeing, their dignity, improved health and better human settlements and livelihoods.”