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“There must be a national strike at all the mines until [the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers ] Frans Baleni and the NUM leadership step down with immediate effect,” Malema told a packed stadium at the Gold Fields KDC West gold mine near Carletonville.

Julius Malema arrives at Gold Fields to speak to striking miners. (Daniel Edyegu)

“If they don’t hear our demands, we will strike for five days a month until they listen.”

The expelled ANC Youth League leader told about 15 000 of striking workers the NUM’s leaders did not listen to workers’ needs.

“How can Frans Baleni know your problems if he doesn’t address you, and hears about your issues on TV?” he asked. “There must be a national strike around the country, demanding Frans Baleni and all NUM leadership immediately be replaced … The problem is not with NUM, it’s with your leaders that take money from the mlungu [whites].”

Malema lambasted union leaders, saying workers were being exploited.

“If you want workers to sweat blood, you must talk to them, not this false leadership,” he said.

“The Marikana struggle must go to all the mines. R12 500 is a reality … We are going to the mines and spreading this revolution. Next week we are in Lephalale. The struggle continues, comrades.”

He also used the opportunity to take a swipe at President Jacob Zuma.

“It’s no secret President Zuma is being paid to protect the mines. His family trusts are being paid. You can’t touch the mines … Zuma doesn’t care about the workers. He doesn’t care about you. Our leaders are in bed with the capitalists,” Malema said.

Guarded welcome
Security hesitated before allowing Malema in after his arrival to the cheers of the thousands of strikers who gathered to hear him speak, but a crowd went to the gate to usher him through.

His black 4×4 was surrounded by miners, who chanted and sang: “Those who have not seen him [Malema] will see him today”, and many of them carried signs reading “R12 500 or nothing” and “Down with NUM”.

Malema ended his speech saying there was a witch-hunt against him.

“We are being intimidated. The police are chasing us. They are trying to silence us like they did in apartheid … They can arrest us tomorrow; we are not scared. If they kill us they will not kill our ideas. Our ideas will live on through you.”

Production at the Driefontien gold mine outside Carltonville came to a standstill on Monday, when almost 75% of the workforce went on strike.

They marched to mine management offices and handed over a memorandum of demands which included:

The removal of the NUM’s branch leadership (which was also requested during a sudden strike last week);

The equalisation of salaries across job categories (an accord for this in principle had been signed); and

The reinstatement of a number of previously suspended employees
The workers also complained their taxes were too high and demanded a salary of R12 500, echoing the demand of striking workers at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine, near Rustenburg.  Read more…

See also – Body found near Lonmin mine

The body of a man, who appears to have been hacked to death, has been found near the koppie where striking miners usually meet. Read more…