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PRETORIA: President Jacob Zuma waded into South Africa’s churning labour crisis yesterday with a call for striking miners to return to work and for CEOs to freeze their pay, amid months of industrial unrest and bloodshed that threaten to derail the nation’s economy.
After nearly five hours spent behind closed doors corralling business and labour leaders, Zuma emerged with a collective demand for the tens of thousands who have downed tools illegally to go back to work “as soon as possible and for production in the mining industry to be normalised.”
Zuma also called on senior officers in business and government to freeze salary increases and bonuses for the next year as a “strong commitment to build an equitable economy”. Eviscerated by critics for failing to stop months of roiling strikes that have often spilled over into deadly violence, Zuma’s comments mark the government’s first decisive step to halt the widespread unrest.
But it is unclear if the meeting will move the ball forward, let alone end a crisis that has spread like wildfire across the country’s industrial heartland. Zuma also announced measures to develop down-at-heel mining towns, where people live in slums around mines with no electricity, running water or sanitation. Afp