Strike It Rich or Just Strike -Jeff
South Africa is known for its rich minerals in the ground. In the Johannesburg area they mine Gold. In Kimberley they mine diamonds. For us, here in Rustenburg, it is platinum. Mining is the economic backbone in South Africa and supplies a large number of jobs. That is reflected here in Rustenburg where we have been seeing the economic impact of the latest strike. This latest strike began around the 1st of February and is still continuing. So far it has been peaceful, however, the longer the strike lasts, and the longer people are without pay, the hungrier people get. We pray that this strike will end soon so that we will not see this one become violent like past strikes.
In past strikes, we have seen a lot of demonstrations and in many cases violence. Violence aimed at the mines themselves as well as toward other workers who have crossed the picket lines. Freedom Park has seen its share of violent strikes in the past and as this strike was approaching we assumed that it would follow the same path as before. When the strike began, we decided, as a family, that we were going to stay out of Freedom Park and not risk being a part of any violence. However, as the strike progressed, our South African team, who were still holding services at Hope Church, reported that it was very peaceful at Freedom Park. We heard from attenders that even during the week the strike was not taking on a violent side. So, 3 weeks into the strike, I decided that I would join the South African team and begin attending. We still were not comfortable taking the baby to services, so Abby would stay home with her.
On returning to Freedom Park and talking with many of our adult attenders, many of whom have small businesses in the community, I began to hear that people there were not buying but instead were saving their money or only purchasing sustenance items. As I would shop in town I would talk to some of my friends that owns shops and heard the same story…no one is buying. It is literally affecting every aspect of our Rustenburg economy.
The mines and the workers seem to be at an impasse. It all hinges on the miners request for an increase in salary that the mine management are saying is too high to be able to sustain. Everything that I hear says the miners are steadfast in holding to their demands and the strike continues. It has gone for a month and a half, and we are hoping that it will come to an end soon.
Please be praying with us as this dispute is greatly affecting our people in Freedom Park. Those who have jobs in the mines are obviously affected, as well as those who have businesses that are dependent on the miners’ patronage. We are so grateful that the strike has been peaceful, but it needs to end, and end soon.