Thursday, August 18, 2016

On the 4th Anniversary of the 2012 Rustenburg Platinum Belt Marikana Tragedy
16 August 2016

This day, 16 August 2016 marks four years since the Rustenburg platinum belt and Marikana tragedy. The SACP sends its message of sincere solidarity to the families of the workers who were killed before, during and after that tragic day in 2012, to the workers who were victimised, attacked and displaced, and to all the women workers who were sexually abused and raped. All the ugly events of that tragic year in the Rustenburg platinum belt, without exception, must never be repeated in this country!

The Rustenburg platinum belt and Marikana tragedy had some of its immediate origins in the fact that the platinum mining corporations did not enter into centralised collective bargaining with the unions as in other key mining sectors, preferring instead to compete and even renege on negotiated wage agreements at the individual company level. This was exactly what happened in the violence and instability that took place early 2012 at Implats near Rustenburg and snowballed to other mining establishements.

In the face of the global capitalist economic crisis and falling platinum prices, there was fierce competition between the platinum mining corporations. Each one of them sought to shove off loses upon workers. The mining bosses adopted an array of destructive means, including neoliberal workplace and workforce restructuring resulting in worker displacement, outsourcing and increased insecurity.

In early 2012, Implats unilaterally undermined a negotiated wage settlement entered into with the National Union of Mineworkers by offering discriminatory wage increases to one section of workers excluding and angering other categories of workers who had been told that the original settlement was "the best that could be achieved" and that there was "no more money".

The capitalist bosses are primarily responsible for the ugly events that took place in the entire Rustenburg platinum belt during that traumatic year, 2012.? They had tried, and in fact relatively succeeded, to play off workers against workers and unions against each other.

The real scandal, perpetuated to this day by the capitalist bosses, was the enormous inequality and remuneration disparities between the top executives who work in air conditioned offices far away from the mining industry labour process health and safety hazards and the hundreds of thousands of workers involved in difficult and dangerous work underground in the hot belly of the earth.

What happened in the Rustenburg platinum belt, inclusive of Marikana, points to the fundamental necessity of workers and trade unions to unite with each other and together wage their common struggle against economic exploitation by the capitalist bosses for a better future over and above fighting for immediate workplace transformation.

What it also points to is the urgency of the national development imperative to place our economy on to a qualitatively different, new growth path to drive the second radical phase of our democratic transition!

In particular, as a people we need to ensure that our mineral resources are used to drive upstream and down-stream industrialisation, sustainable, non-racial urbanisation, above all, to look after the needs of our society rather than exploited to enrich a few through profit maximisation and private capital accummulation.

This will require an effective, determined and desicive democratic developmental state, nationally, provincially and locally as well as a greater political will to ensure effective state intervention into mining sector as a whole.

Issued by the SACP

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