WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – As dawn broke, hundreds of police patrolled the dusty plains around the Marikana mine, which was forced to shut down this week as a rumbling union turf war that has hit the platinum sector this year boiled over into violence.

“There were no problems overnight. The problem is the hill over there where the shooting took place. I am not sure what will happen today,” said Patience, a woman who lives in a shanty town near where the shooting place. She declined to give her full name.

Prior to Thursday, 10 people – including two policemen – had died in nearly a week of fighting between rival unions at what is Lonmin’s flagship plant.

The London-headquartered company has been forced to shut down all its South African platinum operations, which account for 12 percent of global platinum output.

South Africa is home to 80 percent of the world’s known platinum reserves, but rising power and labour costs and a steep decline in the price of the precious metal this year have left many mines struggling to stay afloat.

Although the striking Marikana miners were demanding huge pay hikes, the roots of the trouble lie in a challenge by the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to the 25-year dominance of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a close ally of the ruling ANC.

“There is clearly an element in this that a key supporter of the ANC – the NUM – has come under threat from these protesting workers,” said Nic Borain, an independent political analyst.

President Jacob Zuma, who faces an internal ANC leadership election in December, said he was “shocked and dismayed” at the violence, but made no comment on the police behavior

 

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