Sunday, December 17, 2017
Joseph Mathunjwa

Joseph Mathunjwa

Association Of Mineworkers And Construction Union

ALTHOUGH most of the heavy-lifting in platinum and gold industry wage negotiations is out of the way, at least for a while, Joseph Mathunjwa is nonetheless a crucial figure in South African mining, especially for his polarising political presence and opposition to all things African National Congress. He has laid claims, for instance, that the Farlam Commission failed to identify the perpetrators of the 2012 Marikana Massacre in which striking AMCU members were shot by police. He was critical of President Jacob Zuma’s directive to finally pay compensation to the bereaved families. He was again a thorn in the side of Zuma when it emerged in court proceedings that the government may have paid for the creation of a rival union – Workers Association Union, created by Mathunjwa’s former comrade, Thebe Maswabi – to spy on AMCU and win over the union’s followers. Within his own union, Mathunjwa is not entirely a beloved figure. Unnamed shop stewards claimed he “crushed dissenters calling for new leadership”; they were also critical of the show of hands procedure in setting mandates. At least the dispute called in mid-year platinum wage discussions did not materialise into another strike. By end-October AMCU settled on a three-year wage deal with the likes of Lonmin and Impala Platinum that broadly brings about a R1,000 per month increase to basic pay, a 7.6% increase in line with 7% to 8% national wage inflation


He started his career as a laboratory attendant at Rand Coal in Johannesburg in 1986 and subsequently joined the National Union of Mineworkers. His membership was terminated in 1998 due to an internal dispute. He subsequently, with the help of local teacher Jeffrey Mphahlele, registered AMCU with the Department of Labour in 2001.

“The Farlam Commission failed to find the real perpetrators of the massacre.”