DA: Zuma does 'double-step' to avoid blame for Marikana
The DA says by releasing the Marikana report just on the same day Parliament went into recess, President Jacob Zuma avoided accountability.
And this is why the official opposition now wants Parliament to be recalled “in terms of section 51(2) of the Constitution for an extraordinary sitting to conduct special business”, as its leader Mmusi Maimane put it when addressing reporters at a press briefing in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“This must be done in the coming week to allow President Zuma to fully brief the National Assembly on the report and the process going forward. We believe Parliament must be recalled for a special sitting,” Maimane said.
After studying the report for three months, Zuma released the report of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry last Thursday night via a television broadcast.
The commission, which was chaired by Retired Judge Ian Farlam, investigated matters pertaining to the killing of 34 miners by police at the Lonmin Mine in Marikana on 16 August 2012, and 10 deaths days before what has now come to be known as the Marikana massacre.
‘Operational accountability’ only
DA Chief Whip in the National Assembly John Steenhuisen and James Selfe, chairperson of party’s federal executive, flanked Maimane in the press briefing. The trio took turns expressing dismay at how Zuma was handling the report.
They decried that there was no political accountability whatsoever for the Marikana massacre, but only “operational accountability” in that fingers were being sternly pointed at Riah Phiyega, National Commissioner of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and North West Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Zukiswa Mbombo.
Steenhuisen said: “It’s very clear that president Zuma again did a double-step to avoid Parliamentary accountability and oversight by releasing this report on the very day that Parliament goes into recess, which then prevented any opportunity for the National Assembly certainly within the next 30 days to be able to discuss this very important matter.”
Steenhuisen said the timing “was very clearly a political strategy on behalf of the ANC and Jacob Zuma not to have this report tabled before Parliament rose”.
“So what we want is for the President to urgently recall Parliament as it is within his power to do so, to table the report in Parliament and to account to the nation.
“The president and his executive are accountable through the Constitution to Parliament.
It is the only institution that is able to hold them politically accountable.
“I think that’s what South Africans are most aggrieved at this moment, it is that whilst there may be operational accountability once again there’s no political accountability from anybody in Jacob Zuma’s cabinet.”
Mthethwa must take political blame
The DA leaders said political blame for police action in the Marikana deaths should be apportioned to Nathi Mthethwa, who was minister of police at the time. Mthethwa is now arts and culture minister, and is also acting as public services minister.
But also deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa must face the music for his role leading to the killings, the DA said. Ramaphosa was alleged to have influenced police role in the incident.
Zuma said the commission found that no member of his Cabinet played a role in the “decision of the police to implement the tactical option … which led to the deaths of the 34 persons” on August 16 2012.
Selfe said Ramaphosa and Mthethwa “were very lightly dealt with” by the Farlam report, but once one delves deeper it the full extent of evidence against the pair becomes apparent.
“… If you read the report in detail, there can be no doubt that what happened was that Mr Ramaphosa put pressure on Mr Mthethwa. And Mr Mthethwa I have no doubt put pressure on the National Commissioner (Phiyega).
“I think that in the buildup to this tragedy the police certainly felt themselves under political pressure to do something and to do something quickly. And that Mr Mthethwa in particular was reacting to political pressure from people within the ANC.”
Mthethwa would have long been fired from government if South Africa were another democratic country, said the DA.
“In any other democracy, anywhere in the world, Mthethwa would already have been fired, would already have taken political responsibility for either direct involvement in this matters or the fact that he sat on his hands and did nothing to make sure that the SAPS and the public order police were able to do their job properly and appropriately,” said Selfe.
“We believe that President Zuma should spare no time in firing Mthethwa from the cabinet because otherwise what’s going to happen is that we’re going to assign responsibility entirely on the level of operational commend, the policemen who actually pulled the trigger rather than the political heads who made the environment possible for them to do so in the first place.”
Phiyega too should have been shown the door by now, said Maimane. “We must assign operational responsibility for the massacre to … Phiyega.
“And, as we’ve asked, her along with Nathi Mthethwa should by now at least done the honourable thing but if they don’t want to do the honourable thing should be dismissed … with immediate effect.”
Maimane called on South Africans to wear black on August 16 this year, the third anniversary of the Marikana massacre. He said this would be “in solidarity with those who lost their lives or were injured in that fateful day”.
“I think all South Africans must take this moment to reflect on the nature of our democracy and we believe that black is an appropriate colour because it communicates the somber nature of it, the breakdown in political accountability and also in commemoration as we reflect deeply on the lives that were lost on that day. It is a significant tragedy of our democracy and we need to treat it as such.”