South Africa

Open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa: Use your power to make reparation over Marikana

By Daily Maverick 15 February 2018

Give of your personal wealth to those who lost their loved ones. Open and reveal to all the inner workings that led to the Marikana atrocity, the twisted mindset of the Lonmin management and board, the evil cruelty and impunity of the security forces. By SAHRA RYKLIEF, General Secretary of the International Federation of Workers' Education Associations.

Dear Comrade Cyril,

Today you will be sworn in as our President. You have finessed this situation masterfully. You have demonstrated your excellence as a leader, as a skilled negotiator, honed by your experience in NUM, Codesa and the corporate world. The best negotiators are always prepared to leave the table should the other party be intransigent. To have plan B and Plan C in place. To take everyone they represent along with them while navigating the process. I applaud you for this lesson to the nation on negotiation tactics.

You have done the near impossible by presenting to the country, to the world, a unified face of the ANC throughout Zexit, with the known names of the competing factions in your party all giving their voice to the people on this process. In a very short time, you have bestowed dignity on the nest of vipers you preside over. Moreover, you created the opportunity for you all, as politicians, to show the country the power of the national assembly if consensus for the common good prevails. The ANC would never have had the courage to take this step without purposeful leadership. I applaud you for this national demonstration of political unity.

You have kept in the background through all of this. In these weeks, we have mostly seen your youthful face next to Madiba as he walked to freedom on that glorious day in February. Your publicity team is far superior to the crudeness of Bell Pottinger. Saatchi, perhaps? You have the money to buy the best. You have the full support of the bourgeoisie. Now you have won the middle classes. I applaud you on the sophistication of your propaganda and media team.

May I offer a little advice? Not on what you must do next in the ANC, nor in the government. For that, you have more expertise than me. Who am I, to advise you on political strategy? My advice is for your soul and for the soul of our people. For the mine workers you once led. For their families and comrades, regardless of what trade union they chose to give their allegiance to.

For them Comrade Cyril, once you have been sworn in, I suggest you don sackcloth and ashes and prostrate yourself before the workers of the nation. I suggest you cry out loud, with sincerity, regret and grief: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa!” I trust you are still capable of these emotions. It is Lent, the best of times for penitence. Soon, the arrogance that accompanies the highest office in the land will remove this option from you. As an atheist, I find these Christo-Judean rituals are nonetheless appropriate. But if they do not suit you, every culture has its own version. Chose what you will. Your top-shelf publicity firm will help.

Once you have admitted your guilt for the Marikana massacre , use you power to make reparation. Give of your personal wealth to those who lost their loved ones. Open and reveal to all the inner workings that led to this atrocity, the twisted mindset of the Lonmin management and board, the evil cruelty and impunity of the security forces. Leave no stone unturned, no perpetrator unpunished.

Do this Comrade, and we will adore you. DM


In other news...

July 18 marks Nelson Mandela day. All over the country, South African citizens devote 67 minutes to charitable causes in memory of Madiba. It's a great initiative and one of those few occasions in South Africa where we come together as a nation in pursuit of a common cause. An annual 67 minutes isn't going to cut it though.

In the words of Madiba: "A critical, independent and investigative free press is the lifeblood of any democracy."

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