August 23, 2012
South African Miners Fight In Jesus' Name — With Weapons
Movement's leaders say they do not deserve to be labeled "the union of violence."
Violence continues to plague South Africa's platinum mines, where a clash between police and miners recently killed 34 people.
The incident is part of a long-fought battle for higher wages, but the most recent violence may be fueled by religion as well. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), a breakaway union at odds with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), describes the conflict "in terms of Christian compassion for the poor and a sense that Africans have been excluded from the prosperity that mineral wealth should provide."
AMCU leaders say they have been excluded from talks with management about conditions at the mine. In addition, union leaders decried last week's killings, saying "life is sacred and should not be wasted," according to AMCU general secretary Jeffery Mphalhele.
However, police and union officials report that the AMCU, which has about 30,000 members nationally, marches "with spears, machetes and clubs and anoint themselves with magic potions to ward off police bullets," according to Reuters.
Now the conflict could become political as well. South African President Jacob Zuma established an official inquiry into the situation following last week's violence. The AMCU claims to have no relationship with any political movement.
CT previously reported on South Africa as the most religious part of the world.