| Former ANC Youth League President Julius Malema at the
economic freedom march in South Africa.
|Leadership failure behind massacre
|Tuesday, 28 August 2012 00:43
We went to the murder scene to understand what exactly happened, because since the ANC Youth League’s 23rd National Congress in 2008, we have been the only voice that spoke in defence of mine workers’ interests and aspirations. We have on various occasions intervened and openly associated with struggles of mineworkers, because we know that they are the people who benefit the least from South Africa’s mineral wealth. We have used every platform, including all private and public meetings of the ANC, funerals, weddings, church services and so on, to advocate the nationalisation of mines and the improvement of mine workers’ conditions.
In the document we released in 2009 about the nationalisation of mines, we said: “We made these observations because we believed that it can never be correct that South Africa’s one of the richest territories in terms of mineral wealth in the whole world, while our people are living in starvation and extreme poverty.”
Those who say it was opportunistic of us to intervene and lead in the Marikana massacre are narrow-minded and lazy to think. We are not opportunists, we are continuing with the struggles we have been involved in for a considerable time now. Workers called on our leadership because they have confidence in us and could not agree that the Zuma administration lead them in mourning and resolving the situation and crisis it has created.
Opportunism is when one takes advantage of circumstances with no regard for principle and what will become the consequences of taking such advantage.
We have not done that. We have instead set aside our personal and individual interests to look into the interests and aspirations of workers.
Why are we called opportunists today, when we have been doing similar work for years now?
Where was the opportunism when we went to Balfour to calm the angry protesting community members?
Where was the opportunism when we calmed the striking workers at Impala Platinum mines?
Where was opportunism when we took President Zuma to the informal settlements in municipalities in Mpumalanga where citizens were sharing bucket toilets?
What is opportunism in leading thousands of South Africa’s youth in the longest march in the history of protest from Johannesburg to Pretoria to protest and demand exactly what Lonmin mine workers and other communities demand every day?
Where was opportunism when we took the Minister of Human Settlements to Scwetlha in Alexandra to intervene in the horrible living conditions there?
As many people might have seen at the memorial service and all interactions we have with workers, we have not imposed ourselves on the Marikana workers. They warmly and gladly welcomed us and said in front of Cabinet ministers that the only people they trust to take their issues forward are ourselves. We never said we want to represent them, they said we should represent them and they are happy with the work we have done thus far.
We can never be wrong because an absolute majority of workers and masses of our people approve of what we are doing and what we say. Our masses can never be wrong, and office-bound experts should begin to understand and accept that the people on the ground are always correct and will never falter on what they want and what they need.
We assembled a team of legal representatives to represent the 265 workers who were arrested.
We approached the Lonmin management to secure the release from illegal detention of mine workers in one of the mine’s compounds. We opened a police case against those who killed workers.
We have assisted the affected families and will continue to do so. In addressing the memorial service, we stated clearly and in no unequivocal terms that mourning does not mean that we should stay away from the truth, because it is only truth that can set us free. The South African government is responsible for the massacre because it had the political power to stop such from happening.
How do you explain and justify the reality that rock drill operators are paid as little as R4 000 per month in the mines? How do you explain that mineworkers reside in the type of conditions the Marikana workers find themselves in? It is a fact that when we raised these issues with President Zuma, he ignored us and chose to frequent Britain to assure the mine owners there that the South African government will not change the conditions of workers and will not change any policy with regards to minerals management.
It is a fact that even after the ANC National General Council adopted a greater consensus on nationalisation of mines, Zuma went ahead to make assurances that he won’t change any mining policy. South Africa should begin to appreciate and understand that President Jacob Zuma is a liability to the country and continent.
Apart from the South African and African credibility and integrity that he has damaged internationally, he is costing this country a lot of damage. A wiser and clearer thinking president would have prevented the massacre from happening, through, among other things, regulation of the mining industry and the appointment of a more experienced police commissioner.
Jacob Zuma and police minister Nathi Mthethwa are a huge liability to South Africa and should step down with immediate effect because they are doing no justice to this country. These two should step aside and allow South Africa to enter a new dispensation of tolerance and zero violence in resolving protests. The struggle continues.
No surrender! No retreat! Asijiki!
Julius Malema is the former president of the ANC Youth League, and heads Friends of the Youth League. This article is reproduced from City Press.