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Marikana commemoration rally snubs ANC, NW officials

Molaole Montsho, Sapa

ANC and NW government officials were conspicuously absent at a rally to commemorate slain miners on the second anniversary of the Marikana massacre.

Remember the slain of Marikana: The commemoration rally at the site of the Marikana massacre in 2012. (Paul Botes, M&G)

Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa arrived to a rousing welcome at the Nkaneng informal settlement in Wonderkop, near Marikana in North West, where a crowd of about 12 000 rose and sang the Amcu leader’s praises at a commemoration rally on the second anniversary of the Marikana massacre.

But the rally organisers had snubbed ANC and local government officials, who did not receive invitations to the event. 

Those who did attend included Dali Mpofu, the advocate representing the families of the slain mineworkers at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, Democratic Alliance MP Mmusi Maimane, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, Anglican Bishop Johannes Seoka and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota.

Amcu members dressed in green union T-shirts arrived in buses and sang union songs, mocking the police. “Police are dogs” they sang in Xhosa, as some pointed fingers at the police.

EFF promises
Malema told the crowd that the party would build houses for the widows of the slain miners. “We are going to deliver. We want to teach the ANC government how to take care of poor of the poorer,” he said to applause.

Malema said the EFF would also pay their school fees and buy uniforms for their children. “We are a caring organisation.”

He accused the ANC-led government of killing defenceless mineworkers. “They took away breadwinners. We want a government that brings breadwinners, not that [takes] them away.”

Malema said the widows and families have to experience living without breadwinners. “It is more painful for the families this year than the first year. It has kicked in now that their breadwinners are no more.”

‘Government failed our people’
Government has failed the people of Marikana, said Lekota on the sidelines of the rally. 

“I am disappointed the government failed our people. We know who were the commanders of the police on August 16 2012,” he said. “It is known who were the commanders and who issued guns to the police.”

Lekota said government officials should have called the police commander and found out instead of establishing a commission. “The money should have been used to build houses and reconstruct their lives.

“Lonmin should have engaged with government on how to improve the salary of these workers.”

He said the living conditions of mineworkers had deteriorated in the past two years. “It is worse.”

“Why did the government shoot the people?” he asked. “If it was the apartheid government we can understand, but this a government elected by the people.

“This is not the freedom we want to exile for. This is a completely different government. It responded by force when the people made demands.”

Lekota said South Africans should reflect on the leadership of the country.

No change
Maimane said nothing had changed in Marikana two years after the shootings. “The living conditions of mineworkers have not changed two years later,” he said on arrival at Nkaneng.

“Two years later we still have [a] migrant labour system. The mining industry has not transformed.”

Maimane said he would talk about the conflict of interest involving mining houses and politicians. “Politicians have shares in mines and, as such, fail to hold them accountable.”

He said mineworkers were killed demanding a better wage to better their lives.

ANC not invited
No officials from the ANC attended the Marikana rally held in Wonderkop on Saturday, the ruling party said.

“[The] ANC was not invited by organisers to the Marikana anniversary today,” said spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.

The ANC did not attend the one-year commemoration last year.

The party released a statement on Saturday saying the day should be used to remember all those who were killed in the unrest.

“We solemnly remember the 44 people who lost their lives in the 10 days leading up to and including 16 August 2012,” said Kodwa.

He said the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, established by President Jacob Zuma, should conclude with its investigation into the shooting. “It is our hope that the [commission] ... will soon conclude its business and provide much-needed answers to our country and the world on what transpired on those fateful days in Marikana,” he said.

The ANC urged people, particularly within the mining industry, to recommit themselves to resolving the pressing challenges within the sector. “A commitment borne of the determination that such a tragedy never recurs,” said Kodwa.

President Jacob Zuma released a statement saying this was a day of reflection.

“We need to recommit ourselves to ensuring that violence is never again used to solve problems of any kind in our country,” he said.

Local government snubbed
The organisers did not invite local North West government officials to the commemoration rally either.

Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s spokesperson, Sam Mokaila, said the provincial government had not received an invitation to the event. “Had we received an invite, we would have attended it,” he said.

Earlier, Mahumapelo said the province honoured the spirits of the people who were killed during the violence at the Lonmin platinum mine in August 2012.

“[We] wish all bereaved families comfort as they are once more reminded of this fateful day,” he said. “We pay our respects to the women of Marikana and all areas who continue to carry the burden of raising and supporting their households without the support of their departed partners.”

Day of remembrance
The event was to commemorate the 34 people, mostly striking mineworkers, who were shot dead by police in clashes at Lonmin’s platinum mine on August 16 2012. More than 70 people were wounded and over 250 arrested.

Ten people, among them two policemen and two security guards, were killed in the preceding week.

The subsequent commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Ian Farlam, is investigating the deaths of these 44 people.

Mpofu told reporters he hoped the public would judge what happened during that unrest after the commission had completed its work.

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