Marikana Support Campaign incensed by government’s handling of report

    Mine workers attending the 2nd anniversary commemoration climbed to the top of a small hill and sang songs mocking the police and the mining company for their roles in the killing of their colleagues two years ago.

    On Friday, the Marikana Support Campaign slamed the government’s handling of the release of the Marikana report, saying that the families had not not given adequate notice and that President Jacob Zuma’s summary of the report’s findings glossed over two important points: that Lonmin and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) should be investigated for their role in the events around the shootings. It also criticised the recommendations for further investigation – saying enough evidence had already been provided during the course of the commission to act against senior police officials, as well as condemning the commission for exonerating the executive.

    Here is the full text of the statement:

    The long awaited report of the Farlam Commission has been released. Despite an understanding that lawyers of the families of those slain on 16 August 2012 would be given 48 hours notice to prepare, distressingly this did not happen. This behavior showed no regard for the victims, many of whom attended the commission day after day and have anticipated this day for almost three years.

    Following a cursory reading of the report, the ‘executive summary’ read out by President Zuma missed out at least two important recommendations of the report. These are that,
    1. Lonmin be investigated by the NPA for urging workers to break the strike despite violence during the dispute.
    2. NUM be investigated by the NPA for the shooting of strikers on the 12th.

    Investigations by the NPA

    The overall tone of the report heavily leans towards a vilification of the strikers. This is followed by a recommendation that scores of miners be investigated.

    While we cannot have a quarrel that the hundred plus police who discharged their weapons be investigated, the prospect of this investigation making any headway given the huge scale of this process is highly unlikely. The issue of individual culpability at scene 1 will be dealt with at the coming press conference.

    After 300 days of the commission sitting, the fact that recommendations have been made for further inquiries to take place into the fitness to hold office of the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega and former Provincial Police Commissioner, General Mbombo, is wasteful and unreasonable. Sufficient evidence was presented before the commission to determine that both these senior police commissioners are bloody-minded, acted in collusion with Lonmin and are incompetent and therefore not fit to hold office.

    The exoneration of Cyril Ramaphosa, Nathi Mthwetha, Susan Shabangu and the entire executive is perhaps the most shocking finding of all. In terms of Ramaphosa this is nothing short of a whitewash. Clear evidence was presented at the commission that he colluded with both ministers, and through them, the executive, to break the strike. Not to acknowledge that he, as a Lonmin board member and shareholder, used his seniority in the ANC to motivate for use of deadly force by the state to break a strike that was crippling the mine while breaking the political hegemony of NUM, is the most unforgiving element of the report.

    By vilifying the strikers who were simply seeking to enter into a dialogue with their employers, the Marikana Report has inflicted a deep and dangerous wound on our young democracy. Instead of facilitating healing, the report has poured salt on the psychic wounds of the families of the slain miners. It not only fails to acknowledge the shocking act of violence unleashed upon the strikers, it also fails to recommend compensation for those who have been left without a breadwinner.

    The Marikana Support Campaign, together with affiliate organisations and supporters inside the trade union movement, will not allow the lives lost in Marikana to be in vain. We owe it to them, their families, the injured and arrested and perhaps most importantly to the democracy that so many sacrificed their lives to achieve.

    On Monday 29 June, the Marikana Support Campaign will hold a press conference to further interrogate the findings and recommendations contained in the report and elaborate on a number of demands that will be pursued in the coming period.

    – Featured image of miners at a commemoration of the 2nd anniversary of the Marikana massacre by Ihsaan Haffejee