South African Miners Demand Higher Wages

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South African miners say they can barely survive on their wages in a country fueled by the mining industry, where decades after apartheid White workers make an average of 8-times a Black workers' salary. Critics of the government say the miners are emblematic of a wider problem, of poverty and inequality that the ANC was supposed to address long ago. We're looking for answers today.


South African Miners Demand Higher Wages - Johannesburg Journalist

The world's attention was first focused on an obscure South African platinum mine last month when workers picked up picket signs. Police used lethal force -- and so far, 44 people have been killed.

Last week, the Lonmin mine management said a "peace accord" had been reached with some of the unions although others had not yet signed on. This weekend, gold miners threw down their tools and now thousands of miners refuse to return to the pits until they start getting better living and working conditions, and higher wages. We heard from 34-yr-old Bongisisa Gwiliz, a miner protesting yesterday.

Molefe Mphele is one of the elected representatives of the striking miners. He says the country benefits from the mines, and so the workers deserve better.

Journalist Dagmar Wittek spoke to some of the miners and we aired a clip. She's gone to the mines at Marikana several times since the strike began. She's based in Johannesburg.

South African Miners Demand Higher Wages - Panel

For many the Marikana miners' strike is emblematic of a more general anger at social and economic inequities and reflects a government that's lost its ability to help build better lives for its people.

Andile Mngxitama is a columnist for The Sowetan. He was in Johannesburg. And Dirk Kotze is a political science professor at the University of South Africa. He spoke to us from Pretoria.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry.

Last Word - Imam of the Ground Zero Mosque

This is a terrible anniversary in the world, and a particularly terrible one for the people of Manhattan. The memories of eleven years ago remain an open wound. And a proposal to build an Islamic community centre blocks from ground zero two years ago ignited a nation-wide debate about the sensitivity of the project.

What happened next was New York's mayor and President Obama spoke out in favour of the project and some of the anger dissipated; SOME of the anger.

Imam Feisal Rauf was the man behind the community centre and the founder of the Cordoba Initiative, a multi-faith project that works to improve relations. He's the author of Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a new vision of Islam in America. He told us what the incident taught him about the how the U.S. has changed since 9/11. Imam Rauf gets today's Last Word.


Other segments from today's show:

Inside the Syrian Civil War: Nelofer Pazira

Twiplomacy: Should Canada follow Hillary Clinton's lead?

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