Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the shootings in Marikana. I have tried to follow this on the web, in newspapers and other media like radio and TV. Some things have become clearer but I still have some questions.
First of the all the day was calm. No incidents were reported. There were worries about new fights between rivalling trade unions. According to the National police commissioner Riah Phiyega, quoted in Mail and Guardian,
… all parties present behaved in a manner indicative of the respect being paid to all those who passed away over this period in 2012 …
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) was one of the organisers. (It’s good to see that the Council is still active, although this is a bit re-active rather than pro-active). I was a bit surprised that the Government was not part of the commemoration, but given the fact that the police was heavily involved in the shootings (yes, they actually shot 34 miners) this can be understood. Another remarkable thing is that only one trade union was represented on the stage, namely the youngest and now largest at Lonmins mine in Marikana: AMCU. But after some research I understood that the other unions wanted to avoid conflicts and decided not to join.
But then the question arises: if the shot mine workers were from different trade unions, how can the other trade unions decide not to be part of the commemoration? In fact, my interpretation is that the shot mine workers (at least the 34 who were shot by the police) came from AMCU only. Maybe the other 10, who were killed before 16 August last year, belonged to other unions. This opens up for other questions like: Why did the police shoot workers from AMCU? Why is not the Government (ANC) part of the commemoration? (The ANC is in an alliance with Cosatu. The oldest trade union for mine workers, NUM, belong to Cosatu). My confusion has to do with the relation between NUM, Cosatu, ANC, Lonmin and the police force. As reader you can understand what kind of question I want to ask ….
There is an on-going investigation: the Farlam commission. Former Arts and Culture Minister, Pallo Jordan, is quite harsh in BDLive:
The ANC government eschewed the methods of repressive governments: armed police, security police raids, followed by arrests. But the snail’s pace at which the Farlam Commission is carrying out its inquiry compounds the tragedy. We need answers in a hurry to correct the crowd-control methods employed by our police.
It’s going to be interesting to follow what comes out of this.
On a closing note: ANC was not present. But almost all the other political parties were. Trying to get votes, of course. But also initiative. According to Citypress Julius Malema stole the show. Having said, as Mail and Guardian puts it:
Zuma and Lonmin have blood on their hands
Maybe that answers the question I did not ask. Whether this is right or wrong it makes me worried that Malema is the one at the centre of the stage in all this.