JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Julius Malema, the firebrand politician expelled from South Africa's ruling party, today called for a national strike at mines.
Malema told a crowd of cheering miners on a wildcat strike at the Gold Fields mine near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, that "enough is enough."
"They have been stealing this gold from you. Now it is your turn," Malema said, according to a South African Press Association report.
Malema has sought to gain political capital from public anger over last month's deaths of workers at the Lonmin-owned Marikana platinum mine. On August 16, police shot dead 34 striking miners in an incident some have called the "Marikana massacre."
Strikes have since interrupted production at several gold and platinum mines in South Africa, a country with rich mineral resources and the continent's largest economy.
Malema is an outspoken proponent of nationalization of the country's mining industry.
He was kicked out of the ANC last year after being found guilty by a party disciplinary committee of "sowing divisions" and “bringing the ANC into disrepute."
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Malema, a former leader of the ANC's youth wing who is nicknamed "Juju," also today called for the removal of the National Union of Mineworkers leadership, which is close to South African President Jacob Zuma.
While Malema and the ANC youth league's support was instrumental in bringing Zuma to power, the two have since become enemies.
Malema has called for workers to make the country's mines "ungovernable" by downing tools until their R12,500 (about $1,500) wage demand is met.
In an interview late Tuesday with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Malema explained he wants to see the country's miners strike five days a month.
Mamphela Ramphele, a South African businesswoman and academic also interviewed by Amanpour, said there has been a failure of leadership in South Africa since the end of apartheid.
“Leaders, including Malema, have failed to step up and lead the country to realize that dream that emerged in 1994," she said.
Ramphele added: “Government, unions, mining companies and the society should take up their roles and lead now."
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