CAPE TOWN Feb 13 South African President Jacob
Zuma told mining companies on Thursday to improve workers'
housing this year to meet a government deadline, saying Africa's
largest economy could not afford more social unrest in the
"We need a mining sector that works," Zuma said in his
annual state of the nation address to parliament, noting
mining's status as South Africa's leading earner of foreign
"Let me also remind mining companies that 2014 is the
deadline for them to improve housing and living conditions of
mineworkers and to achieve a number of targets," he added.
Despite some reforms in the 20 years since apartheid, many
miners are part of a century-old migrant labour system that sees
them living in hostels at the mines far away from their
Thousands of others, especially in the platinum sector, live
in shanty towns close to the mines with little electricity or
The poor living conditions are cited as a key reason for the
discontent and violent strikes for higher wages that have
plagued the sector for the last two years.
(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Cropley)