R1,6 billion in mining contracts, awarded by the world’s third largest platinum producer, Lonmin to the Bapo Ba Mogale community near Brits in the North West, are at risk of total collapse. This comes after over 200 unpaid community workers downed tools and going on a rampage.
Workers, who include administrators, burned a tribal office and two vehicles for not receiving their pay for the last three months.
The community which owns the land on which Lonmin Platinum mine digs its riches from, is on the verge of losing out on R1,6 billion in mining contracts. The contracts include a mining trucks business, buses and other youth empowerment projects.
This comes after the Tribal Council decided on royalties for shares swap deal, some 3 years ago.
However, from day one, the projects have been marred by contestations from residents themselves demanding jobs, allegations of misuse of community funds by the Royal family, and sporadic disruption of activities due to community protests.
Now, over 200 workers some have been served with dismissal letters and have not been paid for the past three months.
“There is too much corruption here. We have not been paid since August this year, and when you ask no one gives you answers. All we want is our money and we are going to leave these jobs…. Here is you are not connected you will never get your monies. I am also one of many of administrators who have not been paid for three months. We want our money. Bapo is refusing us,” said one of the frustrated workers.
Spokesperson for Bapo Ba Mogale Tribal Council, Vladimir Mogale concedes that a R5 million grant meant for salaries was delayed.
Mogale is worried that workers protests could harm the entire investment business.
“There was an expectation that the traditional council will receive R5 million – when the money did not come on time, we did not get enough money to pay the workers, that’s why there (is) so much anger there and people are burning things. It possesses a risk, the disruption and burning of property.”
Blessing Ramorwa says the community is being sabotaged to paint a picture of inability to handle its financial affairs.
“There’s a sabotage to make the community leaders to fail. The transaction itself was just fronting. For example these buses and trucks that are operating in the mine do not make money. The profit goes to the owners of the machinery. The community is unable to support the entire community. We need to capacitate the community.”
Workers are resolute that failure to receive their three months salaries, all operations in the area will come to halt.
For them, without their salaries the knocking festive season is anticipated to be a bleak one with their families.