President Jacob Zuma has stunned opposition MPs by claiming ANC MPs have more “rights” because they are in a majority.
Zuma said this in reply to a question in the National Assembly this afternoon from DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.
She wanted to know whether Zuma believed if the smaller union Amcu were allowed to negotiate with the majority NUM for better wages, it would avert tensions in mining and particularly at Lonmin in Marikana.
Zuma replied that labour relations were regulated and the agreements between workers and employees should be respected.
He also said the NUM is in the majority and therefore enjoys more privileges.
He said Mazibuko herself “said in a democracy the majority should prevail. You can’t let smaller unions prevail,” he said.
“That is why you sit on that side of the house,” he said as he pointed to the opposition benches, “you can’t sit on this side (with ANC MPs)”.
Those in the NUM didn’t have the same rights as those in Amcu, he added, although the smaller unions would benefit if better conditions were negotiated.
“We (the ANC) have more rights here because we are in a majority. You (opposition) have fewer rights because you are in a minority,” he said with a smile, to heckling and murmurs from the opposition benches.
ANC MPs have more speaking time in Parliament, and the party also gets to appoint portfolio committee chairs because it has a majority of MPs on committees.
On the mining strikes, he said government was investigating “some people of some description who instigate miners to operate in a particular way” and would be acting soon.
Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has previously been accused by the ANC of instigating the violence at Marikana.
It has been reported that crime intelligence had been investigating Malema’s role in the mining violence.
He has in recent weeks addressed miners at various mines where there is disagreement on labour issues.
Malema this week told miners at Gold Fields in Driefontein near Carletonville that mine workers should strike five days per month until they are given a minimum wage of R12 500.
Zuma said South Africans should await the outcome of the commission of inquiry he established to investigate the Marikana shootings before they made pronouncements.
The terms of reference of the commission were gazetted yesterday and it has been given four months for its investigation.