Marikana - Julius Malema has called on workers to defend the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), Joseph Mathunjwa, saying he was under threat of attack.
Malema did not specify who was targeting Mathunjwa, but he singled out the media for highlighting the Amcu president’s apparent wealthy lifestyle, which contrasts sharply with the conditions of the workers he represents.
“We must protect Mathunjwa, he is going to be under attack. We must protect the president of Amcu (because) they (the media) show (his) cars and say he lives large. What is an (BMW) X5?” Malema asked, mentioning eNCA.
Malema on Saturday addressed thousands of people, mostly mineworkers, during an event to mark the second anniversary of the Marikana massacre.
The event was held near the koppie, the scene of the bloody shooting of August 16, 2012, when the police mowed down 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers. Prior to that, 10 people – including two police officers and two security guards – were killed as the strike over wage demands of R12 500 became increasingly violent.
On Saturday marked exactly two years since the police opened fire on striking miners, killing 34 of them. Prior to that 10 other people, including two police officers and two security guards, died as the strike became increasingly violent.
The ANC, or the government, was again conspicuous by their absence during Saturday’s commemorative event.
President Jacob Zuma said this was a day of reflection.
“We need to recommit ourselves to ensuring that violence is never again used to solve problems of any kind in our country,” he said.
The crowd cheered on as Malema urged the workers to be resilient in their struggle for better wages and when he urged them to defend Mathunjwa.
“Where (what type of house) must Mathunjwa live? We don’t want Mathunjwa to live in shacks because we also don’t want to live in shacks.
Independent Media reported in May that Mathunjwa’s lifestyle bordered on opulence, as he is a director in three companies, owns several properties, including a guesthouse and as he cruises around in luxury vehicles, including three BMWs. eNCA reported earlier this year that the houses were worth about R5m. Mathunjwa was swarmed by a pack of photographers as he arrived in Marikana in a convoy of three vehicles on Saturday, including a BMW and a Mercedes Benz C63 AMG. At least three burly bodyguards surrounded him.
“These so-called media analysts telling us about our leaders, we don’t need them to tell us. I am not saying leaders must display opulence, they must lead a normal life. But Amcu is under a serious attack from the media,” said Malema, who himself arrived in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Throughout the proceedings, the governing ANC and its leaders – especially Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa were the targets for scorn and ridicule. The National Union of Mineworkers, which is an affiliate to the ANC’s ally, Cosatu, was also targeted for criticism. The contempt for the ANC and its leaders and NUM was also expressed in song and placards.
“Ramaphosa has blood on his hands. Don’t let politicians get away with murder,”
“Ramaphosa, (former police minister) Nathi Mthethwa, (former NUM leader and now Labour Minister Senzeni) Zokwana, (former minerals minister) Susan Shabangu are the killers,” were the messages on some of the placards. Some in the strong crowd split in groups, marched around in regiments while performing war-like stunts with their knobkieries. They also sang songs and chanted slogans denouncing Zuma and his government.
In scenes reminiscent of the events leading to the massacre two years ago, two police choppers circled around the koppie, which was partly covered by a section of the crowd. The police were stationed at all ports of entry into the area, searching cars. A police water canon, several police vans, a fire engine and two ambulances were parked near the koppie.
In a calculated move to embarrass the ANC-led government, Malema promised that his party would build houses for the families of the slain mineworkers.
He also pledged that EFF would pay school for school fees of all the dead miners.
“As the government of the EFF, we are going to build houses. We know what it means to live in a shack. We will buy uniforms and pay school fees for their children. We want to teach the ruling party how to take care of the poor of the poorest,” Malema said to rapturous applause.
Malema also vowed that the EFF would continue to fight for the workers’ rights in Parliament.
“We are there (in Parliament) to represent you and we will never let you down. They will keep hearing about the R12 500 for the next five years.”
The DA’s parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said the Marikana massacre had reversed the gains of the freedom achieved in 1994.
“We are going backwards.
“Where are the schools in Marikana? Where are the houses in Marikana. As a nation, we are failing to learn the lessons of two years ago?” he said.
In a poignant moment at 1pm, dark clouds gathered over the koppie as the widows and relatives of the slain miners were called on to the stage and handed red candles. As the names of their dead husbands or relatives were read out, they were each asked to stand up.
The names of the 10 people who died before the massacre were also called out, but their families appeared to have shunned the event as none of them were present during Saturday’s commemoration.