As South Africa marks the 11th anniversary of the Marikana massacre, where at least 44 people were killed in August 2012 during violent wage-demand protests at Lonmin mine near Rustenburg, the ruling African National Congress has slated the use of the tragic event for political gain.
“The ANC condemns usage of the Marikana tragedy as a political tool. Insensitive and opportunistic populism and deliberate peddling of misinformation about the tragedy and its aftermath is highly regrettable. It is done at the expense of healing and national unity in a desperate attempt to gain political mileage,” said ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri in a statement.
“The ANC joins millions of South Africans in remembrance of the fateful days of 12 to 16 August 2012. South Africa is a constitutional democracy founded on dialogue and negotiations and resolution of deadlock through compromise, offering a win-win to all parties.
“The regrettable outcomes during the Marikana tragedy should never ever be allowed to find foot in the current epoch. The ANC dips its flag in remembrance.”
To change face of the mining industry in South Africa and to guarantee miners’ rights, Bhengu-Motsiri said “the ANC-led government introduced progressive laws to regulate the mining industry” and other sectors of the economy.
Among these laws is the Labour Relations Act (LRA), Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) and other laws designed to protect and regulate relations between employees and employers, setting norms and standards for the mining houses for compliance with safety and environmental issues.
She highlighted that in partnership with other stakeholders, multidisciplinary interventions are being undertaken in Marikana to alleviate the plight of the community.
“Some key highlights include the establishment of an agricultural hub which created 500 jobs; extended the living wage to include pension and retirement benefits in line with the labour dispensation; construction of Marikana Combined School and Marikana Secondary schools and installation of a computer laboratory; building of a clinic and community hall,” Bhengu-Motsiri listed.
She also highlighted that there has been a donation of R80 million in land by Stillwater to build houses.
Regarding the payment of reparations, Bhengu-Motsiri said funds to the value of R170 million have been disbursed to the widows and families affected by the tragedy.
Other interventions listed by the ANC include:
• Establishment of an Education Trust to cater for the educational needs of the children of the deceased;
• Building of houses and a joint memorandum of cooperation between the Housing Development Agency and Sibanye Stillwater to address the needs of the community;
• Plans are under way to erect a memorial site;
• Conversion of single sex units into family units to the value of R382 million; and
• Installation of a network tower to provide internet services to community.
Earlier, counsel for miners who survived the tragic shooting, Andries Nkome said the victims of the tragedy might not get the apology they were hoping for.
Nkome insisted that his clients regard President Cyril Ramaphosa as one of the architects behind the massacre. He said so far, the miners argue that Ramaphosa’s apologies have been veiled and half-hearted.
At the time of the tragedy, Ramaphosa was serving as a member of the ANC’s national executive committee, a Lonmin shareholder and a non-executive board member.
“I think as time goes by, our clients start to lose hope in the fact that those that they believe caused the massacre will apologise and it is for that reason that they become steadfast in their belief that the courts are the only forum for hope, out of which they will be able to get apologies given,” said Nkome.
“They (miners who survived the tragedy) say that the massacre took place as a result of the characterisation of their labour dispute with Lonmin by President Cyril Ramaphosa when he said their acts were dastardly criminal and the police must act with concomitant action.
“He went on and gave an apology, though it was veiled. It was not unconditional and so it is for that reason that they (miners) are pressing forward hoping to get justice someday in the future,” said Nkome.
He said the surviving miners want an apology, compensation and criminal liability for the people who authored the tragic events, including politicians, Lonmin mine officials and the police officers.