Political opportunism led to Marikana tragedy, says Cosatu
Johannesburg - Trade union Cosatu has called on workers, members of the Tripartite Alliance and communities to rally behind its Marikana rally on Sunday in the North West province.
Cosatu said that the Marikana tragedy of August 2012, which claimed the lives of 34 protesting miners, was a “classic example of the immorality of capitalism and its festering greed”.
The union’s national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that the union was committed to confronting the deteriorating situation that had led to many workers still getting killed after the tragic events of 2012.
“The federation condemns the ongoing violence and intimidation of workers in Marikana and we strongly support the principle of freedom of association, especially for the working class, membership of any union or any party should not be a death sentence in a democratic country,” said Pamla.
He said that the ongoing killings and violent attacks on National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members had to be stopped and urged law enforcement agencies to start apprehending the perpetrators.
“Political opportunism, populism and the culture of warlordism has undermined the efforts to find lasting solutions to the problems that led to the tragedy in the first place.
“The legacy of the Marikana tragedy should have been about changing the conditions of the mineworkers and holding the mining companies accountable for the damage that they have inflicted on the workers and communities for centuries.
“Unfortunately, we will not be able to achieve any of this because some have decided to hijack Marikana for narrow political and selfish ends,” said Pamla.
He said that seven years after the tragedy, workers were still forced to deal with the ghosts of violence that continued to haunt the mining sector and the platinum belt.
“Marikana cannot be allowed to become a slaughterhouse for the workers and a playground for assassins,” Pamla said.
He added that Sunday’s rally was about reminding workers that the ongoing violence, “whose main victims remain the exploited masses”, was not only weakening them but it had also shifted the focus and blame from the mine bosses who had systematically undermined collective bargaining and promoted division amongst workers.
“While workers are killing each other and surviving on their unemployment stipends, the mine bosses sit in comfort enjoying profits from the very workers whose families have now been robbed of their only breadwinners.
“Cosatu pledges to continue to strive to unite all workers in the struggle against poverty and exploitation, and for safe working conditions, decent and quality jobs, comprehensive social security and comprehensive social services,” he said.