This article was written before the shocking decision to charge the 270 striking miners with the murder of their 34 colleagues – using the apartheid-era “common purpose” law.
Nevertheless, it seems to be a well-informed account of what happened at Marikana and a compelling analysis of the historic significance of this massacre for South Africa as a whole, the ANC, and for the workers’ movement in particular. It is a crisis that will not go away.
The massacre of 34, and almost certainly more, striking mineworkers at Marikana (together with more than 80 injured) on 16 August has sent waves of shock and anger across South Africa, rippling around the world. It could prove a decisive turning-point in our country’s post-apartheid history. A recent report also states that autopsies reveal that most of the workers killed at Marikana were shot in the back. That is, they were escaping. A further blow to the initial police story that they fired because they were being attacked by an armed mob.
. Inequality has increased since 1994 under the post-apartheid ANC government. CEO’s earn millions of Rands in salaries and bonuses while nearly one third of our people live on R432 rand a month or less. The top three managers at Lonmin earned R44, 6 million in 2011 (Sunday Independent, 26/8/2012). Since 1994 blacks have been brought on board by white capital in a deal with the government – and engage in conspicuous consumption. Cyril Ramaphosa, former general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who is now a director of Lonmin, recently bought a rare buffalo for R18 million, a fact contemptuously highlighted by Marikana workers when he donated R2 million for their funeral expenses. Unemployment in South Africa, realistically, is 35-40% and higher among women and youth – the highest in the world.