Statement by Bishop Jo Seoka to the Shareholders and Board of BASF, Virtual AGM 2020
We have been attending the AGM of BASF since 2015 as representatives of the Marikana and members of the „Plough back the fruits“ campaign. We have been consistent and our demands have remained the same. This shows that not much has changed for the workers and the communities around Marikana since the massacre, that claimed the lives of 34 miners and left hundreds with permanent injuries on the 16th August 2012.
Marikana is real and should be considered as the turning point in the history of the Platinum belt in South Africa. The blood of 34 miners murdered by the South African police must not be sacrificed for wealth to preserve white monopoly capitalism. There must be a way of giving dignity and respect, at least to the survivors, the permanently injured, the widows and their orphans.
It cannot be that eight years later we are still talking about the mistakes of the past without any practical evidential symbols of restoration. It cannot be business as usual anymore.
Therefore we once again appeal to you, Shareholders and the company (BASF) to heed our call and resolve the impasse and responsibly engage constructively in an agenda that seeks to facilitate transformation efforts and address the trust deficit, so that we help eliminate inequality and eradicate poverty in the mining sector. We don’t think that what we are asking you, Shareholders and BASF, is an impossible thing to do.
Lonmin has gone and Sibanye-Stillwater has taken over, but the problems are still the same. Thus, we suggest that we start by relooking at what caused the strike and the subsequent massacre – the struggle for the living wage of R12,500.00. Can we, with a straight face, say this has been achieved?
With the inflation of the South African Rand even those, whose salaries have been increased, are getting almost the same amount of money as before the strike. They are still struggling to survive with their families. This cannot be allowed while Sibanye-Stillwater and its business partners like BASF are making huge profits while the living and the working conditions of the miners are still of concern as most continue to live in squalor conditions. These concerns extend to the communities around the mines and we believe that BASF can help to redress these by taking seriously her supply chain responsibility.
This is what we have been coming to ask from you for the last six years. My colleagues and myself are committed to continue raising these demands until your good will is translated to concrete actions and results that show beyond doubt that you care about the dignity of and the respect of the people who contribute to your profit margin.
The interactions we have had so far with both Sibanye-Stillwater and BASF shows that both attach great importance to their reputation within the platinum industry. The best way to achieve this is to enable change for the workers and for the surrounding communities. Both have responsibilities at different levels. It is to this responsibility that we appeal to you. The dialogue processes that BASF wants to conduct with us must also be based on this responsibility and on achievable outcomes. For instance, you can enforce the safety measures at Sibanye-Stillwater now since we have not seen any improvement in this regard. This is something that can be done as is required by the law in South African as well as in Germany.
In the past we failed to get this in the Audit of Lonmin thus we believe this is the right time to ask Sibanye-Stillwater to adhere to safety of the miners particularly in the face of the Covid 19. We say this because our understanding is that Sibanye-Stillwater is not adhering to the protocols and prescriptions on preventive measures against the coronavirus. Unions are already complaining that the Mining houses are not protecting the miners. We think it would be helpful if BASF were to demand from your business partner that they respect your policies and standards if they are to continue doing business with you.
In conclusion we wish to invite you once more to come to South Africa for inspection on loco at Marikana so that we can be best placed to dialogue meaningfully and constructively on issues raised previously and today. Therefore, we further ask that you consider the plight of the widows, orphans, survivors who cannot work due to injuries inflicted by police forces in 2012.
We thank you.