Day: May 30, 2013

An Open Letter To Senzeni Zokwana – President of the National Union of Mineworkers

Dear Comrade,

I hear you are demanding pay rises of around 60% from gold and coal producers. This is ridiculous. What on earth are you thinking? You need to demand increases of at least 150%. This is no time to show weakness.

If negotiations aren’t going your way, change your strategy. When management baulks at your demands, don’t threaten to strike and walk out. Rather identify the alpha male in the management pack, climb quickly across the table and bite him firmly on the ear. Don’t let go, even when people try to hose you down. Emitting a low growl will send a message that you are not to be trifled with. After a few minutes, the CEO will stop resisting and go limp. You may now release your grip and continue negotiations. I think you will find management far more amenable to your demands.

I see you’re having a spot of bother with these Amcu interlopers. What a damned nerve they have, recruiting mineworkers by promising them the world and then failing to deliver. That’s been your job for years.

I’m a bit confused about something. Calling for unions to co-exist peacefully, Mineral Resource Minister Susan Shabangu said, “The NUM is not the enemy of Amcu and Amcu should not be the enemy of NUM.”

It must be rather nice for the union to have its own spokesperson in the cabinet, but doesn’t this confuse the workers? After all, governments are traditionally the enemy of labour movements. Then again, your mother, Cosatu, is sleeping with the enemy, so maybe it does make sense.

Shabangu also said unions had a common class enemy in “monopoly capital”. I’m a gibbering idiot when it comes to finance, but without monopoly capital, wouldn’t the mining industry collapse faster than a shop steward in a shebeen on payday?

Anyway. I don’t know what your members have got to complain about. Winter is almost here and while most of us have to go to work and freeze our giblets off, your people spend their days in cosy underground tunnels. They are even allowed to take their shirts off at work. If I had to try that, I’d be torn apart by the ladies in the accounts department.

You need to cut your losses, my friend. Lonmin has fallen to Amcu. You need to march on Mordor (Impala Platinum) and Isengard (Billiton) and dig in. Take the Orcs of Solidarity with you, if you can. They are smarter than they look.

I hear AngloGold Ashanti will no longer be paying your R1.4-million a year salary. What a shame. I’m sure you will agree that the only real conflict of interest in this novel arrangement arose when you had to decide whether a savings or money market account gave the best returns.

Anyway. You don’t need money. You’re a communist. Act appropriately.

An Open Letter To The African Union

Dear AU,

Congratulation on turning 50! You’ve come a long way without actually going anywhere.

You’ve gone through quite a few changes, too. I remember when you were the Organisation of African Unity. Like so many youngsters, you fell in with the wrong crowd as soon as you were old enough to let go of your colonial coattails.

I remember you hanging out with lovable rogues like Mobutu Sese Seko, Muammar Gaddafi, Idi Amin and Haile Selassie, who was a step up from the rest because he at least invented reggae music and smoked weed. You certainly earned the right to be known as the Dictators’ Club.

You changed your name to the African Union in 2002, presumably after realising that African unity was, like, the biggest pie you ever saw in the sky. There isn’t even a family on this continent, let alone a government, that has managed to achieve unity. When Gaddafi started blabbing on about being the president of the United States of Africa, you had to hire the Americans to put him down. Unity is heavily overrated. Look at Europe. I got a call last night from Brussels begging me to lend money to Spain.

Like me, as you get older, you’re moving a bit slower with each passing year. When that scuffle broke out in Mali last year, it took forever before you tried to do anything about it. I expect you’ll be addressing the Mau Mau rebellion at any moment.

Now that you’re officially middle-aged, you will probably find that you start forgetting things. Like who co-founded you. “Thabo who?” I hear you say. You must be relieved that there is no more talk of the African Renaissance. Like a freshly peeled mango, it was a concept that many of your members found hard to grasp.

I see your foreign ministers have backed a request by Kenya for the International Criminal Court to stop badgering their president. Crimes against humanity aren’t what they used to be. In the good old days, you would have to murder half your population to get that kind of attention. Now you turn a blind eye to a spot of post-electoral pushing and slapping and it’s off to The Hague for you.

Nearly half of the 20 most corrupt countries in the world are African. This is excellent news. All of them might have been African. This is real progress.

The quality of leadership is also improving. Our own president, for instance, makes Barack Obama look like a swivel-eyed illiterate. As for Robert Mugabe, well, there is no finer example of the perfect democrat.

Best of luck in spending the next 50 years searching for African solutions to African problems. Self-sharpening machetes would be a good place to start.