NUM postpones march on ANC headquarters in Johannesburg amid COVID-19 outbreak

ANC Headquarters, Johannesburg

SOUTH African president, Cyril Ramaphosa’s plea that mass gatherings beyond 100 people be avoided as a response to the proliferation of the COVID-19 virus outbreak in the country appears to have won union support.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it had directed its membership and leaders to cancel all union gatherings of 100 or more people with “immediate effect”.

“There shall be no mass meetings or shaft/shop steward council meeting until the ban on meetings has been lifted by the State President,” the union said in a statement today. It consequently postponed a planned march to ANC Headquarters, Luthuli in Johannesburg that had been planned for today.

Ramaphosa yesterday declared a national disaster in South Africa after COVID-19 infections increased to more than 60 cases as of Sunday. In addition to banning of large gatherings, which included religious meetings, the government is to enforce a travel ban on visitors from high risk international points including the US, Spain, Italy and the UK.

Domestic travel has also been discouraged potentially affecting the transport of employees to mines, a development that is partially behind the continued sell down of mining stocks on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange today.

As of mid-afternoon, the JSE’s gold index was 17% lower with declines in the value of AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony and Gold Fields of 19.5%, 20% and 17% respectively. Sibanye-Stillwater was hardest hit: the stock was down 26% at the time of writing.

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