South African Army Put On High Alert In Response To Nationwide Miner Strike
That didn't take long. BBC reports that "Military bases in South Africa have been placed on high alert for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, defence officials have confirmed. The move comes as firebrand politician Julius Malema prepares to address disgruntled soldiers near Johannesburg. The defence minister accused him of trying to "mobilise against the state"." In other words, striking miners are about to be considered enemies of the state, if they hinder record high profit margins at various international precious metal conglomerates. Hopefully South Africa does not test the theory that the worker exterminations (as a reminder tens of striking workers were previously killed by local police) will continue until worker morale improves, because i) it won't, and ii) it will lead to a complete shut down of commodity extraction in the country.
Mr Malema has addressed several rallies in recent weeks, demanding President Jacob Zuma's removal from power after police shot dead striking miners.
Defence department spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga told the BBC that all bases were on high alert to "keep vigilance over the movement of our armed forces".
It is an extraordinary move, all because Mr Malema is due to address some soldiers, the BBC's Andrew Harding reports from Johannesburg.
Mr Malema was expelled from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in April, and is under investigation for alleged corruption.
But Mr Malema has seized on the killings at the Marikana platinum mine last month - when police shot dead 34 protesting workers - to launch a ferocious campaign against South Africa's elites, and to call for an economic revolution, our reporter says.
The army's shrill reaction to his latest move underlines Mr Malema's apparent power, he adds.
South Africa is in a jittery mood right now, partly because of fears that labour unrest could spread, and partly because the government appears preoccupied with infighting, as factions plot ways to unseat President Zuma, our correspondent says.
On Wednesday, Mr Malema called for a national strike in the mining sector, South Africa's economic backbone.
Police spokesman Thulani Ngubane said on Thursday that workers at a platinum mine in North West province, owned by the world's top platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), have launched a strike, AFP news agency reports.
"They are rioting, barricading the roads with tyres, trees trunks and rocks," Mr Ngubane is quoted as saying.
Amplats spokesman Mpumi Sithole told the BBC the protesters were not employees of the company.
"Our employees have been moved to a neutral place away from the mine. Some operations are not operating," Reuters news agency quotes Ms Sithole as saying.
The conflict has led to a fall in the price of Amplats shares.
Perhaps the margin hiker in chief can chime in here. Wouldn't want (lack of) supply and (soaring) demand to set the equilibrium price of a product that is considered the replacement of infinitely printable fiat now, would we.