World in View
South African miners
by Gerry Emmett
The Marikana platinum mine massacre of 34 miners, near Rustenburg, South Africa, has outraged the revolutionary working class. (See statement of Abahlali baseMjondolo on page 1.) That outrage is compounded by the government’s decision to charge 270 survivors with the murders of their fellow workers, who were shot by police. The workers were dragged to court, many still bloodstained and bandaged. They are being charged under the notorious “common purpose” doctrine that was used against the anti-apartheid movement.
The Marikana miners were demanding a pay raise and recognition of a new union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, as opposed to the government-aligned National Union of Mineworkers. No police officer or other official has been charged.
How can anyone place their faith in the government’s promised “impartial investigation”? The moral and political decline of the ANC is evidenced by the fact that Cyril Ramaphosa, floated as a possible candidate for the ANC presidency, and former head of the NUM, is a major stockholder in Lonmin. He is also on the boards of numerous international firms, including Coca-Cola, accused of anti-worker atrocities in Colombia.
Nelson Mandela’s words to South Africa’s unions, from 1993, come to mind now: “How many times has a labor movement supported a liberation movement, only to find itself betrayed on the day of liberation? There are many examples of this in Africa. If the ANC government does not deliver the goods you must do to it what you did to the apartheid regime.”