Politicians fail miners
Readers express their views about the events that unfolded in Marikana last week.
The lack of leadership in the ANC and the government has been exposed by the Marikana massacre. This tragedy is now used by factions in the ANC and the South African Communist Party to score points while families are mourning their loved ones killed by the police.
I am convinced that the SACP leadership of Chris Hani, Charles Nqakula, Joe Slovo and Moses Mabhida would have risen above the conflict between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). These leaders knew how to discharge the vanguard role of the SACP.
The behaviour of Amcu is no different from that of Cosatu affiliates who, while striking and protesting in 2007 and 2010, destroyed cars in Cape Town and blocked access to hospitals and model C and private schools. Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota was correct: for too long the government has allowed anarchy by the working class to go unpunished.
I know the Marikana workers were armed, but the public statement by the police that Thursday was D-day meant the police were ready for a “war”. This conflict had been simmering for days, but neither the SACP, as the political vanguard of the working class, nor the ANC could provide strategic leadership. A party that claims to be a friend of the poor cannot justify that bloodbath.
It is immoral that Cyril Ramaphosa can say he will assist the families of this massacre. Where was he during the Aurora [mine] crisis? – Dominic Mkhwanazi, mineworker, Newcastle
The death of 34 miners in Marikana is a sad indictment of a country that prides itself on human rights and labour laws that protect all employees from exploitation and abuse by unscrupulous employers.
Marikana depicts a grim picture of exploitation taking place in the mining sector and echoes other sectors in which employees’ rights are violated.
Despite the benefits and importance of the mines in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community region, mining has been left in the hands of the Chamber of Mines, which has not been able to transform and regulate mines for the 21st century. Health and safety standards are not adhered to, leading to the death of workers on a weekly basis. As George Orwell aptly said: “In a way it is even humiliating to watch miners working … we owe the decency of our lives to poor drudges underground … with their throats full of dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.”
The president has called for a commission of inquiry into the Marikana matter, but mine managers cannot be exonerated from taking responsibility for the dead mineworkers and the stabilisation of their families.
The culture of irresponsibility has permeated society since President Jacob Zuma took over. Limpopo’s education saga is a clear example of irresponsibility and unaccountability and now the country has witnessed the shooting of civilians live on national television.
The late Andries Tatane is now the face of poor service delivery by the government and the mineworkers of Marikana are a reflection of cruel employers who, in collusion with ANC members, abused black economic empowerment for their own benefit.
This culture of unaccountability is a precursor to a culture of violence and this is slowly becoming a norm in South Africa, where frustrated and agitated individuals and communities destroy property to voice their dissent. We burn schools because we want water in our taps, we close national roads with rocks and branches because a councillor refuses to talk to us.
Meanwhile, our elected official are silently looting the country through fraud and corruption.
Perhaps Zuma could do the country a favour by declining nomination at Mangaung. – Phillimon Mnisi, Johannesburg
The slogan of the National Union of Mineworkers, “Socialism means freedom”, has disappeared in favour of the exploitation of mineworkers by mining capital. Where did these mine capitalists get money in the first place? Some inherited it from the previous slave drivers and colonialists. We need to take back what belongs to us now. These mines must be nationalised, whether the ANC likes it or not.
The ANC has betrayed the people of South Africa, particularly the black working class. The Marikana massacre is proof of the ANC selling out – it sent the police to kill the workers, just as apartheid authorities did.
The tripartite alliance has developed conspiracy theories to justify the actions of the police, whereas the white racist capitalists want everybody to focus on the pangas and knopkerries that the striking workers carried. These white racists, black capitalists and even Cosatu are saying the mineworkers engaged in an illegal strike.
But Cosatu came into existence because of the workers’ wildcat strikes of 1973, mostly in Durban. Did the ANC say then that those strikes were illegal? No, because the ANC was hoping those workers would support them. It was mostly the work of Cosatu, through stayaways, strikes and boycotts, that forced the National Party to unban the ANC, Pan Africanist Congress and SACP. But the Nationalists negotiated with the ANC so that the ANC government could defend the interests of white capital.
The massacre at Marikana is a result of the ANC wanting to maintain the exploitative nature of mining capital under that shitty private property clause in South Africa’s sell-out Constitution.
The white capitalists and black economic empowerment tenderpreneurs will not give us back our means of production without a fight. We will not gain power if we do not stand up to the tyranny of the ANC elite. It will use a militarised police force to defend the economic exploitation and political oppression of the masses of South Africa.
We need to stop this now. We must contest the imperialist nature of the ANC government. The working class as a whole needs to come together and fight for its rights and defend working-class communities. – Mhlobo Gunguluzi