Marikana anger still simmers
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma may have avoided campaigning in Marikana on Tuesday due to the attempted torching and vandalising of the ANC’s local branch office in Nkaneng a few days before his visit.
Three striking mineworkers, who due to safety concerns cannot be named, told The Sunday Independent that either on Wednesday or Thursday, the office was burnt because residents “don’t want the ANC”.
The ANC’s Nkaneng office is next to the Never Die Tavern, where the ruling party’s ward councillor Paulina Masuhlo was shot while out shopping by police using rubber bullets in September 2012.
At the time, police were disarming striking Lonmin mineworkers but no one has ever been arrested and prosecuted for her death, and it is not part of the Marikana Commission’s terms of reference.
The miners, who work at the nearby Lonmin platinum mine and live in Wonderkop, have now been on a 101-day strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
The North West’s platinum belt, including mineworkers at Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum, have not been working since January 23.
Zuma was due to conduct a door-to-door campaign in two wards in Wonderkop, where the three mineworkers live.
“You’d be dead if you campaigned for the ANC. We hope you’re not from the ANC,” says the younger of the mineworkers, not believing that we are journalists.
He says the ANC is not welcome at Marikana and refers to last Sunday’s aborted rally in Freedom Park in which Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was scheduled to address the National Union of Mineworkers’ Youth Forum event.
Cosatu affiliates blame a group of 100 workers wearing Amcu T-shirts for “hurling of stones at the leadership”, and described it as “worst criminal behaviour from political opposition parties in the platinum belt”.
One of the mineworkers boasts: “Last week, we chased away Mbalula.” Mbalula’s convoy and other cars were pelted with stones and two ANC councillors’ homes and a municipal building were burnt.
“Even Zuma didn’t want to come to Marikana. Only (Julius) Malema and (Bantu) Holomisa are allowed, they were here after Zuma and the ANC killed us,” the man adds, referring to the police’s slaying of 34 of their colleagues in August 2012.
Another mineworker also concurs: “ANC ere bolaile ko thabeng (ANC killed us at the koppie).”
“Even (Archbishop Emeritus Desmond) Tutu said he won’t vote for the ANC,” adds the man.
Zuma failed to visit Marikana due to the violence in that area following a decision taken by the provincial executive committee, according to ANC North West provincial chairman Supra Mahumapelo.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) campaigner Zolisa Ngxabatye agreed with the mineworkers.
“Holomisa and Malema are loved here because they were the first to come here after the massacre,” says Ngxabatye while preparing for training of UDM party agents in Marikana.
He is campaigning for the UDM because he has a long history with Holomisa, the former military ruler of Ngxabatye’s former Transkei area of the Eastern Cape.
Ngxabatye believes it was a mistake for the ANC to expel Holomisa, who he describes as Chris Hani’s friend.
Thandi Lubisi, who runs her small business from her tiny shack on the outskirts of Marikana, was still undecided about voting.
There is neither electricity nor water on the premises in which Lubisi’s shack is situated, the water tank has run dry.
“Thina sesigugile, singafisela ini? (We’re grown up, what can we hope for?)” asks the 56-year-old from Delmas, Mpumalanga.
She has been self-employed for more than 30 years.
A mineworker from Skierlike, another informal settlement in Marikana, insisted that ANC members were allowed to campaign and wear T-shirts in the area.
The man, who works in Thaba-zimbi, lives on the other side of the infamous koppie where striking Lonmin mineworkers gathered during their ill-fated strike in 2012, and is also still unsure for which political party to vote for.
The SACP has described the mineworkers’ strike as the “second slow bleeding Marikana tragedy now playing itself out on the platinum belt”.
In the latest edition of its Umsebenzi newsletter, the party says the EFF, like Amcu, hijack real grievances for entirely self-serving leadership purposes.
According to the SACP, “wild promises are made for which there is no capacity to deliver, leading inevitably to the crushing defeat of gullible followers”.
The trade union federation to which Amcu is affiliated, the 650 000-member National Council of Trade Unions, endorsed its long-time ally, the Pan Africanist Congress, and the EFF for Wednesday’s elections.
The SACP says the EFF practices the same kind of demagogy that is playing itself out on the platinum belt at present.
“We urge workers to come out in their overwhelming numbers to defeat anti-worker right-wing formations – whether they are cloaked in blue or red guises,” the SACP says.