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NUM says politicising Marikana massacre does not contribute to healing affected workers

Crosses on a koppies at Marikana ’s Hill of Horror where 34 miners were killed in clashes with police on August 16, 2012. Picture: Simphiwe Sibeko.

Crosses on a koppies at Marikana ’s Hill of Horror where 34 miners were killed in clashes with police on August 16, 2012. Picture: Simphiwe Sibeko.

Published Aug 16, 2021

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Johannesburg - Nine years after what has come to be known as the Marikana Massacre at the Lonmin platinum mine near Rustenburg has been another slap in the face of the widows of the miners gunned down by the police on August 16, 2012.

The Marikana Massacre that left 34 miners dead embroiled then deputy president, and now head of state, Cyril Ramaphosa.

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After promises to appear before the women of Marikana to “clear his conscience”, Ramaphosa’s no-show nine years later, was the subject of speakers at the Marikana Memorial hosted by the Association of Mining Workers and Construction Union (Amcu).

In 2012, Ramaphosa was a non-executive director of Lonmin. Emails shared between Ramaphosa and Lonmin’s board just a day before the massacre showed another side to the president. He demanded that “concomitant action” be taken against the miners. Also referring to the miner as “plainly dastardly criminals”.

In 2019, the government confirmed to The Star that the Presidency was in consultation with Amcu and the National Union of Mineworkers for Ramaphosa to visit Marikana.

This followed a promise by Ramaphosa to Parliament a few months before that he wanted to visit Marikana, and that he was talking to EFF leader Julius Malema.

Ramaphosa has in the past been criticised for what happened at Marikana.

The Government Communication Information System (GCIS) said that efforts were made to pay some of the families, and that houses were being built for the affected families.

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“The Presidency is finalising consultations with all stakeholders, including Amcu and NUM, on an appropriate time and date for President Ramaphosa to visit Marikana to assess the implementation of the recommendations of the Marikana commission of inquiry,” said GCIS.

Judge Ian Farlam was appointed by then president Jacob Zuma to head a commission of inquiry into the massacre. But Farlam exonerated Ramaphosa, paving the way for him to contest for the country’s number one position.

NUM has called for worker unity across mining unions in the platinum belt as the country marks the ninth anniversary of the Marikana massacre. Since the massacre in 2012, mining unions in the platinum belt have not commemorated the day together.

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The Star understands that Amcu has managed to keep its status at the majority union in the platinum sector.

NUM says there has been a hatred of the union in the platinum sector, and alleged that the instability at Marikana was politically orchestrated.

NUM spokesperson Luphert Chilwane said NUM had noticed that the Marikana commemorations were being politicised. He said this did not enhance the unity of workers, and did not contribute to healing affected workers.

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He said that as part of commemorating the massacre, NUM was busy mobilising resources to push for the implementation of the Farlam Commission, which recommended that all victims be equally compensated.

Chilwane said it was important to bear in mind that before the massacre of August 16 about 10 people had already died, including police and security officials. Issues in the platinum belt went beyond trade union labour battles. He warned that no one should claim narrow short-lived political victories. Ramaphosa is one of the founders of NUM.

Speaking at the memorial, political analyst Xolani Dube said: “He (Ramaphosa) told the world he would come and apologise, but as we speak today that man never did that. Why do you have to apologise for something that you have not done? Why is the world not frowning upon this man? Why are the business people saying that they want justice, why don’t you take the people who killed the miners to the International Criminal Court?”

Dube, who seemed emotional while delivering his speech, said the painful thing was that the miners were breadwinners who risked their lives every day to create wealth for others.

EFF leader and representative of the Marikana widows, advocate Dali Mpofu, said it was important that the killings should always be remembered because they were the greatest tragedy of democratic South Africa.

“This was the first massacre that was actually perpetrated by us, because those times we would say, it is the apartheid government, what do you expect? But now these are the people that we had chosen ourselves to lead us out of that mess, and they did the same thing that was done by the oppressor,” Mpofu said.

Thembisile John, a sister of one of the deceased, told The Star that her family still hoped for justice for her brother’s death. “We will wait. We will wait for justice for my brother.”

Ramaphosa had not not responded to any questions or released a statement at the time of publication.

The Star

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