North West - Julius Malema sent five ministers aligned with President Jacob Zuma packing on Thursday, saying they had pitched up at his alternative memorial service for the murdered Marikana mineworkers just to “pose for the cameras”.
This prompted the five angry ministers – Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane; Mining Minister Susan Shabangu; Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa; Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi; and, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele – to stage a walk-out.
The expelled former ANC Youth League president told hundreds of mourners attending a service organised by his supporters at the Wonderkop informal settlement that the ministers were there for wrong and selfish reasons.
Malema said this was because the service had been organised and funded by the Friends of the ANCYL – a group that has kept Malema politically relevant since his expulsion – without a single cent from the government.
“Everything here was paid for by the Friends of the Youth League. Your government didn’t pay for anything today; the only thing they’re here for is to pose for cameras,” said Malema.
He has used platforms, provided by the same group across the country in recent weeks, to question Zuma’s leadership, his “thinking capacity” and private lifestyle.
Malema used the memorial to again lay into Zuma, claiming that the ANC leader benefited from the mines through his foundations.
“Zuma’s foundations are getting money from mines. That is why they can’t stand up to these mining companies,” Malema said.
However, the fire-brand youth leader could not produce evidence to back up his claims.
Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, requested questions in writing, but had not yet responded by the time of going to print.
Shifting his focus to ANC national executive member Cyril Ramaphosa, Malema suggested the businessman was “very arrogant” and used his wealth as a licence to kill the poor. “People are killed and the only thing [Ramaphosa] could say is I’ll give you R2 million. With this R2m he is saying I will kill and bury you,” he said.
Malema’s memorial took place a few hundred metres from the official one organised by the government. Mourners, including ministers and church leaders, braved the scorching heat to gather under a marquee and another white tent.
Malema repeated his claim that Zuma had “killed” the Lonmin miners. “We have thought that this was the people’s government and that people will be protected under democracy. [But now] the democratic government has turned against its people,” Malema said.
He called on the miners not to turn their backs on the ANC, saying power-hungry individuals gave the party a bad name.
“We need to return the government back to the people, but you shouldn’t be angry at the ANC. It’s a good party given a bad name by those fighting for positions.”
Malema, who had championed the league’s Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime slogan until his sacking, told the angry mineworkers to continue fighting for their rights.
“This is a mining revolution. We will not retreat or surrender until [Lonmin] has given us money.”
The miners have refused to return to work until their demands for a salary increase of up to R12 500 have been met.
Zuma did not attend on Thursday’s memorial, but held a briefing where he revealed that the commission of inquiry into the shooting would be headed by retired Judge Ian Farlam. He will be assisted by senior advocates Bantubonke Tokota and Pingla Hemraj.
The commission will have to find answers to what the role of the Lonmin mine bosses, police, unions, and the mineworkers was.
Zuma said the commission would also probe whether Lonmin had, by act or omission, created an environment conducive to tensions, labour unrest, disunity among its employees or harmful conduct.
It would also look at “the facts and circumstances which gave rise to the use of force, and whether this was reasonable and justifiable in the particular circumstances”.
The commission will also investigate the conduct of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
Zuma said the commission would, in particular, probe the extent to which Amcu had exercised effective control over its membership and those allied to it in ensuring their conduct was lawful and did not endanger lives.
NUM would also be investigated for its role in the tragedy, in particular whether the union had exercised its best endeavours to resolve any disputes between itself, Lonmin, Amcu and other parties.
The commission would also look into the role played by the Department of Mineral Resources or any other government department or agency in relation to the incident and whether this was consistent with their duties according to law.
The commission was expected to conclude its work in four months and would submit monthly interim reports before presenting Zuma with the final report. “The commission shall, where appropriate, refer matters for prosecution, further investigation or the convening of a separate inquiry to the relevant law enforcement agency, government department or regulator regarding the conduct of any person(s).
The commission would also have the powers to enter and search premises, securing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents.