Turning Points on the Periphery? The Politics of South Africa's Platinum-Belt Strike Wave in Rustenburg, Northwest and Northam, Limpopo, 2012-2014

Turning Points on the Periphery? The Politics of South Africa's Platinum-Belt Strike Wave in Rustenburg, Northwest and Northam, Limpopo, 2012-2014

Author: 
Sinwell, Luke
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2019
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 45, No. 5, 2019, pp. 877-894
Abstract: 

Mine workers have been positioned at the forefront of a new left alliance in South Africa. This article questions that assumption. It assesses the politics of workers on a mine called Swartklip, part of Anglo Platinum's operation in Limpopo province, whose rank and file engaged in unprotected strike action in the Northam region (in 2012) before becoming part of the longest strike action in South African mining history (in 2014). Drawing from original in-depth interviews with workers' leaders, the article argues that the Marikana massacre and the concessions that workers had won from their employers at Northam, and in the western limb of the platinum mining belt more generally, was indeed rooted within a militant worker-driven, democratic culture, which laid the groundwork for a shift in the country's broader political landscape (notably the rise of the EFF as a political force and the shift of NUMSA outside the ANC alliance). However, the events at Northam suggest that mine workers in general do not envisage themselves playing a leading role in consolidating a left alternative in South Africa's 'new' political formations.

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CITATION: Sinwell, Luke. Turning Points on the Periphery? The Politics of South Africa's Platinum-Belt Strike Wave in Rustenburg, Northwest and Northam, Limpopo, 2012-2014 . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2019. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 45, No. 5, 2019, pp. 877-894 - Available at: http://library.au.int/turning-points-periphery-politics-south-africas-platinum-belt-strike-wave-rustenburg-northwest-and