Phosa: ANC leadership is being severely tested

Mathews Phosa and President Jacob Zuma.(Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images)

Mathews Phosa and President Jacob Zuma.(Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images)

"Out of the whole Marikana saga we should be asking ourselves a simple question 'why have the workers lost faith in the legitimate authorities?," Phosa said in a speech prepared for delivery on Saturday.

"Let us, as leaders, not seek the glory inherent in accentuating our differences, but rather seek the quiet triumph of building safe bridges over our differences."

Phosa said despite this the party could not ignore that it was celebrating a century of achievement. He was talking at the handing over the African National Congress' centenary torch in Hartswater in the Northern Cape on Saturday.

Phosa said charging the mineworkers when a commission of inquiry was looking into the matter was reckless and absurd.

On August 16, police opened fire on striking workers gathered on a hill near Lonmin's Marikana mine, in North West, killing 34 of them and wounding 78.

A group of 270 miners were arrested and charged with public violence.

On Thursday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced the miners would also face murder and attempted murder charges for the deaths of their colleagues.

The NPA's contentious decision was questioned on Friday. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said he would seek clarity on the reasons for the move, while legal experts and political parties roundly condemned the decision.

Phosa said the consequences of charging the miners at this time was "too ghastly to contemplate".

"We don't need another Marikana.
We need cool heads to prevail," he said.

South Africa urgently needed to move towards civilian control of the police service as envisaged by the Convention for a Democratic SA.

Phosa said the ANC had reached its political destiny.

"We are in control of our present and of our future. We are in a position to shape our environment in such a way that no one can ever say that ours was a flame that burnt in vain," he said.

It was the ANC's job to keep the flame burning for its children and their children who could benefit from the party's efforts, Phosa said.

"To do that we must utilise the power in our hands, the power of government, to change lives, and create hope, wealth and jobs," said Phosa.

It was Phosa's 60th birthday on Saturday. – Sapa

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