Open Letter To Gwede Mantashe
January 9, 2009
The General Secretary
The African National Congress
Dear Comrade Mantashe,
State Owned Mining Company.
With the general election behind us and the resounding success of the ANC and its alliance partners your mind must be occupied by the planning and strategising around your ideas for the state mining company that has been a dream of yours for many years. I believe you are the best person to drive and manage such a company given your vast experience of the mining industry, and your understanding of the industry, warts and all, can only lead to success. However with some of the issues needing cleaning up, like sorting out the wayward lot in the Western Cape, Sbu’s car, taxi drivers and the Rapid Bus Transport System, Telkom and that pesky Barney Pityana fellow. I’m sure you find the inability, to give your noble vision for a State Owned Mining Company its deserved attention, very frustrating.
To add insult to injury, Ibrahim Patel, typical of the Western Cape types, goes and steals a march on you and bails out Seardel and their fat, lazy sewing machine operators. I always believed you couldn’t trust anybody from the Western Cape in an economically critical cabinet portfolio. They are just too laid back and plain lazy.
The time has come for you to appoint someone who shares your passion and vision. Someone with similar vision, enthusiasm and commitment. Someone who can take your vision forward now that you have a mandate from your constituency. Now is the time to get the project up and running whilst the capitalist factions within the ANC are still stunned and distracted. If you wait too long they may get organised and drum up enough support to scupper your plans. I believe, without being presumptuous, that I could be the ideal person to make your dreams a reality.
I have the background, education skills, experience and personality that make me the ideal candidate to get the project of the ground. As a young boy, my grandfather taught me how to use a bullwhip on the lazy farm workers, an experience that stood me in good stead later in life. I completed my school education in 1971 after which I enrolled at University. There I dabbled in politics and told everyone I was a communist whilst extolling the virtues of my great hero, Fidel Castro, thus gaining my struggle credentials. After being kicked out of University, I joined the civil service, where I worked for the CSIR in telecommunication research, which helped me to understand our co-operation with the USA on space and telecommunication projects. During my tenure there, I learned a lot about spies and the intelligence community by listening very carefully and studying many textbooks by Ian Fleming, Ken Follet, Tom Clancy and other intelligence and counter intelligence experts. Because of my vast body of knowledge and experience, I, unlike lightweights such as Vusi Pikoli, understand issues critical to state security and I am probably the best-qualified person in South Africa, after President Zuma and Moe Shaik of course, in this critical area. I mention this because I know; both you and the President are trying to deploy as many as possible intelligence operatives from the struggle era into the new government. Very clever, we will not have Xenophobic attacks again only to hear from the likes of Kasrils that NIS knew nothing about it. In this time I did military service, unlike Carl Niehaus I did not take the easy way out…I went up there to learn and hone my skills as a leader and a ruthless soldier. I made it to sergeant, however, my military carreer was cut short by my desire to commit to a fulltime mining career.
Adding word to deed, I joined the mines where I showed my leadership qualities and rose through the ranks to a leadership position in the UOASA (now UASA). You may think that leaders in UOASA had it easy compared to leaders of NUM. Do not believe that, they were a bunch of ninnies walking around with matches, tyres, petrol and machetes, no offense intended. We did not have those luxuries, to swell membership and deal with management, we had only our leadership skills and charm to rely on. However, as some of our comrades say, we did not join the struggle to remain poor and stupid, so I decided to further my mining career and resumed my studies.
I obtained a mining and business qualification and quickly rose through the ranks to a senior management position. During that time, I learned how to deal effectively with Unions, DME inspectors and the many technical and social challenges facing the industry. I learned how to sidestep, beg and, as is the want of our President, promise anything under the sun. Most important, I learned how to spot lazy loafers a mile away. I have also added considerably to my vast knowledge by using my idle time to learn about the GULAG, having watched Michael Palin’s excellent programme showing how effectively Stalin dealt with workers in the uranium mines in Siberia, I became an expert in this field of study. I have I have submitted my degree request to the University of Novokutsnesk and I my degree will be awarded soon.
I also learned a lot about you as a leader, the way you led NUM, SACP and ANC, your immense ability to apply the principle of “divide and rule”. Examples of your cunning resolve are legion, getting Archie out of NUM, manipulating the entire ANC and inserting your carefully selected team to lead the next phase of the economic emancipation of the country and its people. The cunning way in which you by, sowing confusion in the ranks, kept everyone focused on your objectives, all the time thinking they were doing it for themselves.
Having given your plans and vision considerable thought, I came up with some excellent plans that will make this venture a great success. Obviously, we need a resource. I suggest we nationalise Pamodzi and Anglo Ashanti’s South African gold mines. I won’t be surprised, in fact I almost sure, you manipulated Cynthia Carroll into selling Anglo Ashanti. I mean, we now have a good reason to nationalise the resource, not wanting it in foreign, especially American, hands. As for Pamodzi, we know nobody really wants it. I do however believe, by applying my labour model, we can turn it into major success.
The second most important issue is the Human Resource requirement, people and skills. We know that we lack technical and management skills and given the spectacular failure of Gipsa, which we know was your initiative sabotaged by the Mbeki lot, we are nowhere nearer a solution. We can however steal a march on the rest by using Sonjika and Zokwane’s idea of arresting mine managers when they have fatalities on their mines. We can then deploy them to the State Mines as punishment, a bit like the GULAG. Some of the other technical skills we require can be had in China. With your special relationships, we can easily facilitate that. I thought about your idea of using African skills but in my experience, they are not very good and besides, they will probably be killed by our Xenophobes. The good thing about employing Chinese is that they can work long hours and even stay underground between shifts. They are used to dying in the mine, in China they die by their thousands and you never hear a word of complaint. The performance of Chinese workers in South African mines, in the early days, is legendary.
As for the semi-skilled labourers needed, it should be easy to convince the Unions that the State Mine is theirs as much as the government’s. Using that argument, and a change here and there to the labour laws, we can exempt the State Mines from the restrictive clauses of the LRA . We should be able to employ the unemployed at the same wage we pay Zimbabwean illegals. Another source of semi-skilled labour is cable thieves and illegal miners underground. They are actually ideal for the purpose. Their modus operandi of living underground for long periods, when stealing copper cable and gold, makes them ideally suited for the job at hand. We only have to bring them to surface once in a month to avoid destruction of pigmentation. I have many more ideas but I do not want to bore you now, we can discuss those when we meet to discuss my employment terms.
Your Partner in Struggle
Comrade George Annandale