Saturday, August 18, 2012

SA's brutal Marikana mine massacre: Reminder of darkest days of apartheid

A clip of the tragic shooting at the Lonmin Marikana mine in north-eastern South Africa on Thursday. Video: eNCA - South Africa's leading independent news channel

Open letter to SA President Jacob Zuma – By John Minto

Kia ora President Zuma,

Many New Zealanders who demonstrated so strongly against the apartheid system in the 1970s and 1980s have watched with growing alarm at the direction the African National Congress (ANC) leadership has taken South Africa since the first democratic election in 1994.

The events of the last week culminating in the Marikana massacre of 34 striking mineworkers with dozens injured is the inevitable outcome of the ANC choice to follow free-market economic policies which, wherever and whenever they have been employed in human history, have always transferred wealth from the poor to the rich and stripped hope from the majority.

Under the ANC we have seen South Africa change seemlessly from race-based apartheid to economic apartheid.

We didn’t protest here just to see a few black faces at the top table in South Africa. We didn’t turn out in our tens of thousands to face batons and barbed wire so the likes of former anti-apartheid leaders such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Tokyo Sexwale and Julius Malema could become obscenely rich off the backs of South Africa’s workers – 34 of whom were riddled with police bullets two days ago.

The appalling scenes played out on our TV screens are reminiscent of the darkest days of apartheid such as the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and the murder of black school children in Soweto in June 1976.

Just as we held the apartheid regime responsible for those massacres, we now hold the ANC government responsible for the massacre of striking mineworkers.

You and your government have blood on their hands.

Leadership betrayal
This year is the 100th anniversary of the formation of the ANC – it should be a time of pride and celebration for all the people of South Africa but the betrayal of the struggle by the ANC leadership leaves most of us cold.

As a spokesperson for Abahlahli baseMjondolo, which is struggling for decent housing against violence and intimidation said last month:

“All is slowly sinking as the new government is making sure that we remember the heroes of the struggle but not what the struggle was for”.

At this time of deep sadness for those and injured and their families, and anger at the ineptitude, self-service and corruption running to the core of your government, we stand once more with the poor and oppressed people of South Africa and their struggle for freedom, hope and dignity.

John Minto is a Global Justice and Peace Auckland (GPJA) spokesperson and a tireless campaigner for social justice in South Africa. He is a previous contributor to Café Pacific.

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