Parliament - Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane on Monday accused the government of having consigned the Marikana tragedy to history after President Jacob Zuma said he would not declare August 16 a commemorative day to mark the mass shooting of 34 miners five years ago.
Zuma, in response to a parliamentary question from Maimane, said the most effective way of honouring the victims was to take practical steps to improve the lives of mining communities.
"Government encourages all society to commemorate tragedies such as the one of Marikana in every manner possible," he said, adding that government was duly implementing the recommendations of the Farlam commission of inquiry into the massacre.
Zuma said the inter-ministerial committee on distressed mining communities had done commendable work, including delivering 522 housing units, and its objectives were being folded into government's action plan. Furthermore, mining house Lonmin had upgraded more than 2,500 of its hostels and was conducting a feasibility study for a housing development of 5,000 units at Marikana Extension 5.
He added: "We appeal to all social partners to use the lessons from the Marikana tragedy to honour the memory of the victims through practical measures to improve the living and working conditions of mining communities, which is the most effective way to honour them".
Maimane described Zuma's response as "flippant".
"This tragedy remains a national disaster which the ANC government refuses to account for. Our call is made on behalf of those who died during this week as well as their families and loved ones. We acknowledged that there have been events that have taken place on this day, but this is not enough. This rejection means the ANC government has turned a blind eye on the wounds that still exists," he said.
"It is now clear that the ANC government has washed their hands of the slain Marikana victims."
The shooting on August 16, 2012 after a protracted strike at Lonmin mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg, was the most deadly instance of police violence since the fall of apartheid. Ten people, including six mine workers and two policemen, were killed in the days leading up to the shooting.
The Farlam commission found that police officers, the mining company and unions were responsible for the killings. To date, nobody has been charged.
- African News Agency (ANA)
- Edited by Catherine Rice