I am appalled at the inaccuracies and blatant propaganda in your front page article “The ghost of the Five Madoda has NUM in Rustenburg shivering” (Business Report, August 15). Business Report has a reputation for fair and balanced reporting and you have, over recent months, given something of the history of our union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
In your own columns you have correctly stated that our union was formed in Witbank in 1998. Yet your report states that Amcu was involved with violent strike action at Impala Platinum (Implats) in Rustenburg in 1997. The Five Madoda group and the Inkatha Freedom Party-aligned United Workers Union of SA were generally held responsible for the mayhem at Implats over that period. As far as I am aware, they are no more.
But Five Madoda has become a catchphrase, especially within the SACP and Cosatu, to describe any group within the labour movement that dares to challenge the dominance of the Cosatu-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). It is true that thousands of former NUM members have joined Amcu, which did not even exist in 1997. Last year, for example, our union was accepted by NUM as a very small minority at Implats where, like NUM, we were not held responsible for violence that occurred at that time.
Your report also denigrates miners, painting them as barbaric savages. This is done by repeating the propagandistic rumours about the desecration of bodies for muti, mentioning specifically the lips of two murdered security guards. Yet, according to evidence, the bodies of these men were “burnt beyond recognition”.
Unfortunately, a year after the massacre at Marikana, such myths continue to parade as fact. We are also expected to accept that the majority of miners can be intimidated by a small minority of their number. But this serves the purpose of calling for the army and police to move in to ensure that NUM can again dominate.
It is interesting that, although perhaps half the violent deaths in the Marikana area in recent months have been of Amcu members, it is invariably only the deaths of NUM members that are given widespread publicity. But the police acknowledge that these deaths may have nothing whatever to do with unions or union membership because our members live in a violent environment alongside gangsters, loan sharks and shebeens.
What must be understood is that we in Amcu are a democratic collective of workers who are not politically aligned and who fight for decent wages and conditions for all our members. That is all we are, but because thousands of NUM members have come to us we are now portrayed, by elements in NUM, by the SACP and the ANC, as Five Madoda thugs. The saddest aspect of this is that reputable publications such as yours publish, apparently without checking, such rubbish.