The business media this week has once again been filled with stories on mining but with the gold sector taking prominence. On Sunday (October 21) evening the DSTV show Carte Blanche aired a feature on the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) deal put together by Goldfields – the South African based global top 10 gold producer. The story exposed a web of greed and deceit across shareholders, executive management, government officials and some so called ‘connected’ people who facilitated the deal. The official statement from the company is that the deal was engineered to ‘reward people who most contributed to the democratic transition of South Africa’ and to benefit workers and previously disadvantaged communities. I am sure I don’t need to elaborate on who has and is still really benefiting from this deal so far!
On Wednesday (October 24) it was reported that AngloGold, another global top 10 gold producer has fired 12 000 of its staff who have refused to go back to work.
The strikes have changed the nature of labour in Africa’s biggest economy, Impala Platinum chairperson Khotso Mokhele told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg. “Of course the strike changed the labour dynamics,” he said. “It clearly is changing the dynamics of the mining sector as a whole and one could argue, in the entire industrial relationship set-up in the country.”
In another sign the unrest was continuing to spread, coal miner South African Coal Mining Holdings said that some of its operations had been interrupted due to a new union-led strike over wages.
Gold Fields sacked 8 500 wildcat strikers at its KDC East mine on Tuesday (October 23) after they ignored an ultimatum. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) also sacked 12 000 at its Rustenburg operations earlier this month.
Gold – the never ending source of wealth and economic value
What I find very interesting is that gold has been the primary symbol of wealth and economic value since the beginning of time and will continue until the end, if we go by what we see in the source of truth – the Bible.
In Genesis 2:11-12 we read about gold as the first mineral resource that God placed in the Garden of Eden and that it was ‘exceptionally’ pure. When our King, Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was born the first visitors on the scene presented Him with gold as their first gift (Matthew 2:11). I have a strange feeling that when Jesus comes back again we will offer Him gold as a welcoming love gift offering. Our final destination – the ‘New Jerusalem’ as described in Revelation 21:18-21 talks about the city of pure gold with streets paved with gold.
As I thought about this significance of gold in God’s eyes and in His Kingdom (which we can track all the way from Genesis until Revelation), it made me think if what we are seeing right now is a prophetic picture of the spiritual and natural battle that will take place in the last days over critical resources on the earth.
Man has abused the mineral resources that God has created and used them to enrich himself while oppressing other human beings. Putting riches ahead of God’s most prized possession (other humans) is one of the greatest abominations in God’s sight.
Close assessment of where we stand
As believers we need to honestly look at ourselves and make sure we are not part of this system that God will ruthlessly judge. The word of God gives a clear warning to rich oppressors from James 5:1-6 : Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
God actually gives His children an opportunity to repent and get out of this system when He says in Revelation 18:4 : Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues’.
We all have the choice to stay in the system or get out – the consequences of either decision are very clearly spelt out in the bible.
Let’s get one thing straight – God is not against profit, in fact He wants and expects His children to prosper. In the parable of the three servants (Matthew 25:14-30) – we see the master throwing the unprofitable servant into outer darkness and rewarding the ones who made a good profit from the assets the master had given them to trade.
Biblical profit is the spiritual and natural gains after all costs are deducted from a business transaction or the revenue of the business. It’s profit gained in an environment where everyone wins – the business stewards win as they create wealth to channel as a blessing to the world, the employees win because they are fairly compensated and treated, clients win because they are sold quality products ethically, suppliers win because they are paid fair value for their services, government wins because taxes are paid honestly, the church wins because tithes and offerings are brought in, and in fact one of the most critical stakeholders – the family wins (husbands, wives and children,) as workers are encouraged in the work environment to honour and not neglect their God ordained family covenant. Biblical profit can only be made when we honour the greatest commandment to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbour as our selves.
The same principle of loving our neighbour applies whether it’s the mining workforce in a top 10 gold producer or if it’s a house maid or gardener working in our home. James 5: 1- 6 applies to both scenarios.
We should always remember Deuteronomy 8:18 – ‘But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today’.