Johannesburg - United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa is willing to help Marikana miners, but has not been officially asked to do so, he said on Wednesday.
“The workers when they want my assistance, they would call me direct,” he said.
Earlier in the day, marching miners sang: “We died because of (President Jacob) Zuma. (Bantu) Holomisa please come and rescue us.”
“It's just singing... the singing may not necessarily mean that I must pack my bags for Marikana,” Holomisa said.
He said he did not know why the miners would call on him, above all other leaders, to help.
On August 16, police fired on a group of protesting workers from Lonmin's platinum mine, in North West, killing 34 and wounding 78. Another 10 people were killed earlier that week, including two policemen and two security guards.
Holomisa denied there was any possibility of him joining forces with expelled African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema, after the two sat together at the memorial service for the Lonmin miners.
Holomisa was one of the few political leaders to speak at the memorial.
Asked whether he and Malema - two breakaways from the ANC - might form an alliance, Holomisa laughed and said: “No, no, no.
“Malema is wearing ANC colours... he sees himself as still part of the movement.
“He has said himself he is just outside the door (of the ANC), and come Mangaung, he will be back,” Holomisa said, referring to the ANC's elective conference in December.
“So why would he want to associate with me?”
Holomisa was expelled from the ANC in 1996 after he was found guilty of bringing the party into disrepute.
At issue was his remark to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that then public enterprises minister Stella Sigcau accepted a R50 000 payment from former Transkei ruler Chief George Matanzima.
Malema was expelled from the ANC in April.
Holomisa said it was a coincidence that he had sat next to Malema at the memorial service on August 23, although he had no problem with this.
“Malema, to me, I don't regard as an enemy. He might be an enemy of the ANC, but not of the UDM or myself.”
Holomisa said the day after the Marikana shootings (August 16), he received a call from “desperate workers” asking for help. He would not reveal exactly who called him.
He phoned Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota to propose that the opposition parties visit Marikana. A group of opposition leaders went to see the workers on August 20.
This might be the reason Lonmin workers called on him to help them on Wednesday, Holomisa said.
“The workers know that I will help them... At least I demonstrated (my commitment to help) when they were under siege by bringing the leaders of the opposition.”
Last week, Holomisa wrote to President Jacob Zuma, calling for murder charges against 270 arrested Marikana workers to be dropped. The National Prosecuting Authority withdrew the murder charges on Sunday.
Holomisa said he was grateful to Malema for speaking out about who owned South Africa's mines.
“We thank him for his knowledge about who's running the mines in this country... he must continue telling us who is owning this economy.”
Malema has claimed the miners were shot to protect high-ranking ANC member and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa's shares in Lonmin. Ramaphosa sits on the board of Lonmin.
Lonmin workers have been on strike for the past three weeks, demanding a monthly salary of R12 500.
Talks between worker representatives, unions, the labour department and management to resolve the dispute are ongoing. - Sapa