Calls for new Marikana massacre probe
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Johannesburg - Varous organisations are calling for the formation of a civil society commission to look into the evidence surrounding the 2012 Marikana massacre.
This emerged during a discussion at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre in Joburg, on Sunday. The event was hosted by the United Front, a political and workers formation aligned to metalworkers union Numsa, to commemorate the killings.
Rehad Desai, the event organiser and member of the Marikana Support Campaign, made the suggestion and was supported by other participants.
“We should be having our own inquiry, a civil society-led inquiry based on the evidence,” he said.
Desai referred to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry’s report as a whitewash.
“These commissions are established to deflect blame away from the state. They drag it out in the hope it escapes the public memory. We’ve got a long campaign ahead of us if we are to see justice,” he said.
Trevor Ngwane, who works at the University of Johannesburg’s Social Science Research Institute, said the 2012 strike in Marikana was an example of workers’ self-organisation.
The miners at Lonmin platinum mine near Rustenburg continued their strike even after their colleagues were mowed down in an attempt to secure a R12 500 wage.
“(They) continued until they won a major concession. As leaders, our job is to support the self-organisation of workers,” Ngwane told the audience of about 50 people.
Some of the organisations in the audience included Numsa, the Right2Know Campaign, the Treatment Action Campaign and Johannesburg People’s Pride.
Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi supported Ngwane’s stance.
“… 2012 represented a new beginning in the sense that workers who felt that their unions were no longer representing them needed to act in and for their own interest. On their own they won significant victories.”
Vavi criticised the way in which leaders of trade unions had become too comfortable, politically intertwined and ignorant to the workers’ plight.
“The only way you can defend the status quo today is when you willingly suppress the independent voices, willingly sideline the real interest of the working people for a living wage, for improved working conditions and so forth.”
Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma on Sunday reiterated that the implementation of the recommendations of the Farlam report were being taken seriously by the government.
He would convene a meeting of the Mining Sector’s National Consultative Forum next month to discuss the implementation of the framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry.
This was a collective response by the government and organised business to the Marikana tragedy.
“The forum, which is managed and co-ordinated by the Department of Mineral Resources, looks at issues of promoting the rule of law and stability, strengthening labour relations, improving working and living conditions and supporting the growth of the mining industry,” Zuma pointed out.