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(en) Britain, North London Solidarity Federation*: 45 striking miners shot dead in South Africa
Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:55:18 +0300
police repression South Africa energy & mining strikes Lonmin ---- North London Solidarity
Federation reproduce a powerful statement by Ayanda Kota - a member of the militant South
African shack dwellers organisation, Abahlali baseMjondolo, in protest at the murder of 45
striking miners by the South African police force and the role played by the ruling ANC
party (once presided over by Nelson Mandela) in allegedly facilitating the police to carry
out such acts of violence. ---- If you wish to express your anger at this, consider
phoning the South African embassy in London at 0207-451-7299 and emailing them at
firstname.lastname@example.org . ---- For more phone numbers and emails, consider searching
google for other relevant phone numbers and email adresses, including those belonging to
the ruling ANC party.
8 August 2012 (originally posted at http://abahlali.org/node/9035)
The Marikana Mine Worker's Massacre – a Massive Escalation in the War on the Poor
It’s now two days after the brutal, heartless and merciless cold blood bath of 45 Marikana
mine workers by the South African Police Services. This was a massacre!
South Africa is the most unequal country in the world. The amount of poverty is excessive.
In every township there are shacks with no sanitation and electricity. Unemployment is
hovering around 40%. Economic inequality is matched with political inequality. Everywhere
activists are facing serious repression from the police and from local party structures.
Mining has been central to the history of repression in South Africa. Mining made Sandton
to be Sandton and the Bantustans of the Eastern Cape to be the desolate places that they
still are. Mining in South Africa also made the elites in England rich by exploiting
workers in South Africa. You cannot understand why the rural Eastern Cape is poor without
understanding why Sandton and the City of London are rich.
Mining has been in the news in South Africa recently. Malema, a corrupt and authoritarian
demagogue who represents a faction of the BEE elite, has been demanding nationalisation.
Progressive forces inside and outside of the alliance oppose Malema because he represents
the most predatory faction of the elite and is looking for a massive bail out for his
friends who own unprofitable mines. What we stand for is the socialisation, under workers'
control, of the mines. We also stand for reparations for the hundred years of exploitation.
Things are starting to change but not for the better. Khulubuse Zuma, the president’s
nephew and Zondwa Mandela, the former president’s grandchild, and many others with close
family ties to politicians have become mining tycoons overnight. China has joined the
bandwagon as well, plundering our resources.
Frans Baleni, the General of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) earns R105 000 a
month. NUM has become a route into high office in government and even to places on the
boards of the mining companies. The union is rapidly losing all credibility on the mines.
It is clear that it is now co-opted into the system and is part of the structures of
control. It is the police that take NUM to address the workers. Baleni's betrayal of the
workers has made him a very rich man – a rich man who condemns and tries to suppress the
struggles of the poor. It is no surprise that workers are rejecting NUM, trying to build
an alternative union or acting on their own without any union representing them. The
workers are right to chase the NUM leaders away from their strikes.
The Marikana Mine is the richest platinum mine in the world and yet its workers live in
shacks. Most of the slain workers are rock drillers, the most difficult and dangerous work
in the mine. They do the most dangerous work in the mine and yet they earn only R4 000 a
month. Through the blood and sweat in the mines they do not only produce wealth that is
alienated from them, they also produce the fat cats, which wine and dine on naked bodies
and call that sushi.
The workers who occupied the hill came from many places including Swaziland and
Mozambique. But most of them came from the rural Eastern Cape, from the former Bantustans
where people live their lives as a living death under the chiefs, without work, without
land and without hope. Every Rand that they win back from the capitalists is another Rand
coming to the poorest part of the country. The part of the country that has been most
devastated by the mines over the last century. We celebrate every Rand that the workers
have taken back from the capitalists and fully support their demand of a salary of R12 500
a month. Will Baleni or Nzimande or Zuma accept R4 000 a month? If not why should anyone else?
The strikers see the NUM leaders as traitors. They delinked from the NUM because they saw
that they needed to delink from the alliance of capitalists and tendepreners that run the
ANC. The decision to delink was very courageous! We will have to delink in every sector if
we are going to build a real movement for change.
Workers under the tripartite alliance are being sundered from socialism; they are only
being encouraged to vote for the ruling party. Nothing is being done to fuse social
consciousness in their struggle. They are encouraged to participate in sensational
politics, the politics of who should lead and who should be removed. They are encouraged
to see communities and workers that organise independently as their enemies.
It is easy to decide not to decide. It is much harder to make a decision pregnant with
risk and promise. For miners to delink from the likes of Baleni and tripartite alliance
was a courageous decision. They understand that courage is an important element of all
struggles. They understand that there is no quick fix in the struggle for a just society,
a society that will respect and uphold the rights of workers and nature, a society that
will be ruled on the principle of each according to his needs. This society is based on
each according to his political connections with the elite that has captured the ANC and
its alliance partners.
If the strikers were protesting under the banner of the tripartite alliance they wouldn’t
have been slaughtered. COSATU strikes have often been violent but their members are not
shot like animals. In fact the campaigns to support Zuma in his rape and corruption trials
were full of threats of violence and yet Zuma supporters were not gunned down.
Before the miners occupied the hill they made a vow that no bullet will deter them. They
were willing to fight and die to get a fair share of the wealth of this mine for
themselves and their families. What this demonstrates is that these were people who were
aware of the risks that their decisions entailed, who thought about such risks carefully,
guided by their conscience and concluded that they were willing to face the consequences
that could arise.
Hellen Keller's words ring true “There is no such thing as a complete security, and if
there was what fun would life be. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only
through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired,
and success". She adds “To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in
the presence of fate and adversity is strength undefeatable.”
The immense courage of the miners that gathered on Nkaneng hill was tremendous. They were
prepared to take a real stand. They were prepared to face real risks. We do not see this
courage amongst the left. In fact most of the left has abandoned real struggle in real
communities for meetings and conferences and emails. The left has become something that
NGOs run. It is about bussing poor black people into meetings that they have no control
over and that are very far removed from the realities of our real struggles. It is about
educating the poor and not about fighting with the poor. When real struggles happen in
places like the shack settlements of Zakheleni, eTwatwa or Kennedy Road most of the left
is not there. But when there is a big conference they are all there.
The ANC government has killed workers for demanding a salary increment from a notoriously
exploitative and very, very rich company. The workers earn only R4000 per month doing the
most dangerous work. The ANC president and cabinet ministers earn not less that R2 million
per year. And on top of that there is corruption everywhere. Our politicians are part of
the global elite. The lowest ANC deployee earns not less than R20 000 excluding benefits.
The Marikana mine workers lived in shacks with their families. The president of the ANC
has recently built a mansion in his homestead, a mansion that cost tax payers not less
than R200 million.
It is the ANC government that shoots and kills protesters when they are fighting for the
assertion of their humanity. They recently killed Andries Tatane. They have killed at
least 25 others on protests since 2000. If you are poor and black your life counts for
nothing to the ANC.
What lesson can be learnt from the Marikana mine workers' massacre? The ruthlessness of
this government does not diminish but on contrary increases with the number of workers and
unemployed who starve. They are criminalising our struggles and militarising their police.
It is clear that anyone who organises outside of the ANC, in communities or in the
workplace, will face serious and violent repression from the party and the police.
The NUM and the SACP have made it very clear which side that they are on. By supporting
the massacre and calling for further repression against the workers they have made it
quite clear that they are on the side of the ruthless alliance between capital and the
politicians. They have declared, very clearly, that they support the war on the poor.
Their reactions to the massacre are a total disgrace. No credible left formation in South
Africa or anywhere in the world can work with the NUM or SACP again. The decision of the
miners at Marikana to delink from the corrupt and ruthless politics of the alliance has
Things will not get better but will get worse. When the elite’s power is threatened they
will respond with more and more violence. War has been declared on the poor and on anyone
organising outside of the control of the ANC. We are our own liberators. We must organise
and continue to build outside the ANC. We must face the realities of the situation that we
confront clearly and courageously. Many more of us will be jailed and killed in the years
What they have done can never be forgotten nor forgiven.
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