Archive | August, 2012

The Marikana Killings – Jacob Zuma and the ANC have betrayed South Africans!

21 Aug

The tragedy that occurred in South Africa on 16 August is very sad. Questions abound on who to blame between the police and the mineworkers. I say neither of the above. The police have been used as pawns by the government in a bitter and escalating war with workers. The demonstrating mineworkers fought the wrong people – they fought the messenger (the police). The ANC Government must take the ultimate blame for this chaos. Addressing this problem by trying to place the blame on the police or the mineworkers is to miss the point in a country which is riddled and defined by widespread levels of abject poverty in a country of “plenty”.

Now, going into the details of the violent scenes at Lonmin’s Marikana! The first question that needs to be asked is about the leadership of the mine workers union. Where was the National Union of Mineworkers when their compatriots were arming themselves to the teeth with iron bars and small weapons? The demonstrators carried machetes and other weapons. This is criminal and is not justifiable. A blow on the head by an iron bar would paralyze or kill a policeman just as much as much as a machete could hack off a policeman’s neck in as much the same manner as an automatic weapon could plough through the demonstrators. They cannot dare plead ignorance. I’m quite convinced that there are people who incited most of the workers and the leadership of the workers Union must be made to answer. ALL THE SAME THEY CANNOT BE BLAMED FOR THE ULTIMATE DISASTER!

South Africa remains one of the most violent “at peace” crime ridden countries in the world. Police officers are killed almost regularly on South Africa’s streets fighting crime. Small arms continue to be an everyday specter and instrument of violence in SA. In a country where police corruption is very high to the extent that police sell guns to criminals and where small arms find their way into the country through porous borders such as in Mozambique, guns will remain a problem.

The police should have had intelligence about what was brewing at the Marikana mine. I do not want to believe that they just got deployed ignorantly into a “minefield”. I’m sure the police knew beforehand that the miners were armed with machetes and other small weapons which is the ultimate reason they carried automatic rifles. So in a sense they went there prepared for the worst. A review or investigation of the police communications leading to their deployment might actually show that they knew what they were being deployed to go and do – kill some of the demonstrators. The police must give answers! ALL THE SAME THEY CANNOT BE BLAMED FOR THE ULTIMATE DISASTER!

As much as this problem is about asking why the South African police killed the mineworkers, it is about something else more fundamental. As much as we might want to ask why the demonstrators carried arms, this issue is about something else more fundamental. Blaming the police for heavy handedness or the mineworkers for being too violent is to miss the point. I argue that something else more fundamental is the issue of poverty and wealth redistribution in black South South Africa.

Thousands of people continue to struggle and live in abject poverty, in conditions described as “living like animals by one Lonmin mineworker) whilst huge conglomerates continue to siphon huge profits to their countries and fatten the pockets of South African politicians who are linked to the mines such as Cyril Ramaphosa. This is unjustifiable. People do not just get agitated from nowhere. Ask the Nigerians who live in the Niger Delta where thousands continue to die and even endure high oil prices for oil that is drilled in their own backyards.

The situation could have been avoided if the mine management, government and workers union had honestly addressed the workers’ grievances. It is naive to think that a hungry man or woman will continue smiling at you whilst you continue to make them toil, excavating huge mounds of dust from grounds very close to their miserable abodes for peanuts whilst you take the riches to your house where you will have hot water, blue cheese, French wines and your well educated children will be waiting for you every day.

Only a fool would think that such a situation will not repeat itself unless if issues of poverty in South Africa’s townships are addressed. It might take a week, a month, two years or even more time but it will happen again. People must wake up and smell the coffee that the poverty levels in South Africa cannot continue unabated. It is even folly for anyone to blame black South Africans for their lack of skills and education because when white children were going to school and playing chess black children were busy running away from bullets and learning how to cock the AK 47.

People always want to believe that there are other more peaceful ways to address conflict but it is human nature to behave in certain ways when faced with an intractable situation. In South Africa where white capitalist arrogance is fuelled by black middle class and political chicanery to trash cries for the redistribution of wealth, address poverty and so on, violence in a sense will be the only way out. I am in no sense advocating for violence but honestly, what other way is there for these poor people?

… And people are not even ashamed of themselves. The Shanduka Group which is owned by top ANC politician and a shareholder in Lonmin have offered R2m and Lonmin has offered a ¼ of a million dollars. So much opulence, so much arrogance I would say. And then they insist workers must go back to work! For God’s sake, these people have some nerve. They must just fire those workers and I’m quite sure they would have rubbed just too much salt into the wound.

It is true, the South African police could have used less violent methods; the demonstrators could have used less violent methods but in the end, THE GOVERNMENT, the ANC government has failed South Africans because they should have seen this coming and the blood of these people now lies dripping in Jacob Zuma’s hands as the leader of a Government which is increasingly becoming oblivious and arrogant to South Africans’ pleas for the government to reduce poverty.

If I were Lonmin and the ANC Government, I would make sure that the enquiry into the violence is quick and results come quick. But again for the results to find the workers and or the police to blame would be stupid and inadequate. People in higher offices must answer and accept responsibility for this tragedy. Moreover, the first thing they should now be talking about is COMPENSATION.

The least this ANC Government and this LONMIN could do is to make sure that they continue paying the salaries of the deceased 34 and hundreds injured until the retirement ages especially for those deceased. The noise about who is to blame between the police and the mineworkers is just Hogwash! Jacob Zuma must put his black blood sucking capitalist comrades on a leash. And those companies that continuously milk resources from the Platinum mines or wherever in Africa must just wake up and know that the MILKING of resources whilst African workers continue to live “like animals” needs to END!

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