Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema and party chief whip Floyd Shivambu accused Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday of killing the 34 mineworkers police shot dead in August 2012 in Marikana, saying he has blood on his hands and calling on him to accept responsibility for the deaths.
Malema originally asked Ramaphosa how he reconciles his testimony before the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, including his characterisation of the mineworkers’ strike as having gone beyond a labour dispute and the resultant deaths of 34 miners at Marikana, with any of the government interventions to alleviate the suffering of the victims of the tragedy.
Ramaphosa said in a prepared response that there was no correlation between his testimony at the commission and the government interventions, but that the government has made a number of interventions.
He mentioned how the government sought to assist the families of those who died to establish the facts about what happened through the appointment of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, the interministerial committee, a framework agreement entered into by labour, business and government, which seeks to address a number of issues including how to accelerate the process of transformation and beneficiation of metals dug out of South African soil and the empowerment of mineworkers, among other things.
‘Driven by profit’
In following up, Malema began by complaining that his original question had been changed as he had never referred to the Marikana incident as a “tragedy” as captured in the official question paper, but as the “Marikana massacre”.
He then said: “Why is the deputy president not accepting that you are responsible for the death of 34 mineworkers who died, that you killed them because you were driven by profit and the interest to defend your shares as an economic security guard in the economy of South Africa, and stop this thing that we must all take responsibility. We can’t take responsibility for the thing we don’t know. You are the one who wrote emails and instigated the killing of 34 people.
“And sitting there, your hands have got blood of innocent people who died in Marikana and I think it is important for you to accept that you are responsible for the deaths of 34 people,” Malema said.
Ordered to leave
National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete interjected and instructed Malema to withdraw the remarks that Ramaphosa had blood on his hands. Instead of withdrawing, Malema said: “The deputy president’s hands have got blood, a lot of blood of 34 innocent mineworkers.”
Mbete ordered him to leave the House. Shivambu entered the fray and demanded that Mbete explain the rule “preventing us from saying that Cyril is a murderer”.
“He is a murderer of workers in Marikana, it’s a fact. He said there must be concomitant action in Marikana, and they killed the workers,” said Shivambu.
Both refused to withdraw their remarks when instructed to do so and the EFF contingent walked out in solidarity with its leaders.