Zuma massages Farlam finding on Mthethwa

Analysis

President Jacob Zuma’s summary of the Marikana Commission’s report on Thursday night was substantially different from the actual report on former police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Two former ministers and the current deputy president had not been found culpable by the Farlam inquiry into the Marikana massacre, President Jacob Zuma told the nation on Thursday night.

He was right on two counts.

The full Farlam report, also released on Thursday night, does indeed find that serious allegations against deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Susan Shabangu (the former minister of mining) did not stand up to scrutiny

Representatives of miners had said Ramaphosa had been responsible for the massacre, and that Shabangu was guilty of corruption. The commission found truth in neither allegation.

On former police minister Nathi Mthethwa, however, Zuma simplified the commission’s findings to the point of outright contradition.

‘The executive played no role’

“The counsel for injured and arrested persons alleged that mister Mthethwa was the cause of the Marikana massacre and that he must be held accountable for the death of 34 miners,” Zuma said in a live, televised address. “The commission found that the executive played no role in the decision of the police to implement the tactical option on the 16th August 2012 if the strikers did not lay down their arms, which led to the deaths of the 34 persons.”

In reality, in a complex analysis of Mthethwa’s role, the commission said on page 453 of its report that it was “unable … to find positively in Minister Mthethwa’s favour”, leaving serious questions about the role of the executive hanging.

In its analysis of Mthethwa’s role in the massacre the commission struggled with the intransigence of police management, and the apparent unwillingness of police commanders to tell the simple truth. That leaves it speculating as to why the National Management Forum (NMF) of the SAPS would, apparently, endorse a decision that ultimately led to the massacre.

It could not, the commission said, find with certainty that “executive guidance” had not been “one at least of the factors” on which that NMF had made its decision. And if there had been such “guidance”, the commission says, “then it is probable that such guidance was conveyed to the NMF by Minister Mthethwa”.

“The Commission wishes to emphasise that it is not finding that such ‘guidance’ was given,” the report concludes its analysis on Mthethwa. “It is, however, unable in the light of what has been said above to find positively in Minister Mthethwa’s favour on the point.”

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