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We remember Marikana — will the government and President Ramaphosa also remember the massacre 10 years later?


Rebone Tau is a political commentator and author of The Rise and Fall of the ANCYL. She is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Pan-African Thought & Conversation (IPATC) at the University of Johannesburg. She writes in her personal capacity.

The ruling party has failed and continues to fail to go to Marikana every year when the nation commemorates the Marikana Massacre. Why is the ANC unable to face the people of Marikana since the ANC says it is biased towards the working class?

August this year marks 10 years since the Marikana Massacre and, as South Africans, we need to reflect and ask ourselves difficult questions as a nation when we look at the inequalities in this country. Marikana stands out as one of the major tragedies of post-apartheid South Africa.

Marikana would not have happened if the miners were paid decent salaries. Was R12,500 a lot of money that they were asking from Lonmin, their employer, by means of strike action? Strike action is a component of collective bargaining sanctioned by the law. Although those in senior management in these mines earn a lot of money, looking at the cost of living at the time, was R12,500 too much to ask for a month?

The Marikana Massacre is a clear case study on how those who control the means of production do not care about the workers. Police were also killed and not only mineworkers because of the greed of mine owners.

The Marikana Massacre also gave birth to the idea of a new political party that was officially launched in 2013, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), after the expulsion of Julius Malema from the ANC. In every election since 2014, we have seen how the EFF is growing at a fast pace and this is because the poor can now identify themselves with the EFF or a party that represents their daily struggles.

The ruling party has failed and continues to fail to go to Marikana every year when the nation commemorates the Marikana Massacre. Why is the ANC unable to face the people of Marikana since the ANC says it is biassed towards the working class? Is the ANC an organisation that still cares for the poor, is the identity of the ANC changing over the years?

Issuing statements is the only thing they do every year. The people who died at Marikana were breadwinners, today their kids do not have fathers and their wives are widows while the ANC just issues statements, while they commemorate June 16 and Human Rights Day, the Sharpeville Massacre.

The late “Mother of the Nation”, Winne Mandela at her 80th birthday celebrations in 2016, said the following: “When I get well I am going to lead a campaign for those who are orphans and widows, that I can assure you of, and you know who is going to support me? Deputy President (Cyril Ramaphosa), he is going to find a budget from the white capital that is here.”

Unfortunately, she died in 2018, not having realised this wish as she had not been well for some time. At her funeral, Ramaphosa indicated that he would still go to Marikana with Julius Malema as per the wishes of Winnie Mandela so that they could go and heal the wounds of the Marikana widows. The question is will Ramaphosa go to Marikana this year as we commemorate 10 years of Marikana?

We can never forget what happened in Marikana as it showed how deep the inequalities in this country are and that there is a need for equality across racial lines. The class struggle will take us long to achieve as politicians live lavish lifestyles and the poor remain in abject poverty.

There is a need to restructure the South African economy as the way it is structured currently only benefits the rich. This will also give us an opportunity to engage on why raw materials are exported and come back to the country as final products. If the raw material of minerals was not exported but processed into semi-finished or finished products, that would boost our economy and create more jobs for South Africans.

This is why lawmakers should be making sure that they pass laws that are pro-poor and not for the elites who have benefited since apartheid, as they continue to benefit even now, 28 years later. DM


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  • Stuart Hulley-Miller says:

    The Police alone cannot be blamed. South Africa as a whole has to take responsibility for Marikana. They are responsible for putting in place a string of ridiculous circumstances that allowed a group of people to whip up anti-establishment fervor that they wanted to result in lethal confrontation to further their desire to become a dominant Trade Union…… that the reason they used was legitimate is not the issue here…. You cannot kill innocent people with the simple aim of achieving what you want. They did that. If you study the filmed evidence you will understand the fear and danger that the Police were exposed to and understand who was responsible. The eventual outcome was planned and orchestrated by the people behind the action. It was an exceptionally sad day for South Africa.

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