Julius Malema barred from addressing SA miners

JOHANNESBURG - Firebrand politician Julius Malema has been barred by police from addressing striking miners at South Africa's Marikana mine.

Some 2,000 miners had gathered at a stadium near the mine, some 60 miles (100km) north-west of Johannesburg.

Strikes have already halted production at several gold and platinum mines in the resource-rich country.

South African President Jacob Zuma said that the disruption had cost the industry $548m in lost output.

Last week, the government warned it would act "swiftly" against the incitement and threats of violence crippling the mines.
Anger

After arguing with police at the stadium, Mr Malema was escorted away by a special police protection unit.

He has called for a nationwide strike after earlier saying the mines should be made "ungovernable".

Some have accused Mr Malema, who was expelled from the African National Congress (ANC) earlier this year, of political opportunism amid seething anger over last month's deaths at Marikana mine.

Forty-four people died at the Lonmin-owned platinum mine in mid-August - 34 miners shot in a single day by police.

A commission of inquiry is looking into events at that mine, but observers say the issue is tapping into disquiet over the ruling ANC's links to big business and alleged neglect of the working classes that have made up its historical support base.

The president of South Africa's trade union movement, Sidumo Dlamini, on Monday again said growing inequality were to blame for the recent killings and continuing unrest in the country's mining industry.

Mr Malema, the former head of the ANC Youth League, is also under investigation for alleged corruption - which he denies.

But he is continuing to make waves in South Africa - articulating the anger of many following last month's killings, says BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding.

His fiery rhetoric is hugely popular, especially given the relative silence from other quarters, our correspondent says.

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