Marikana – The President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) Joseph Mathunjwa says the 2012 Marikana massacre is no different to the 1960 Sharpeville massacre.
Muthunjwa said the Marikana incident, however, happened under the constitutional democracy.
“It is shameful that the same people who claim to have liberated us and who condemned police violence against protesters, were the same people who let police kill striking mineworkers,” Mathunjwa said.
He was speaking at the fifth anniversary of the Marikana killings in August 2012.
He received a warm reception at the commemoration.
Siphokazi Maraqana sang the struggle song “Senzenina – What have we done” before Mathunjwa took the stage.
He said in a capitalist system, workers lived under “slave salaries”.
A sea of green Amcu supporters gathered to honour their fallen colleagues.
Some locals put up small stalls selling fruits, beer, cooldrinks and food while a small group of people carried knobkieries and placards which read, “Remembrance of our heroes”.
They marched around the koppie, which was once the scene where the Marikana massacre played out.
The knobkieries were symbolic of August 16, 2012 when 34 mineworkers were shot dead by police during the protest for better wages.
Most of the miners were shot in the back.
The illegal strike began on August 12 and in the days leading up to August 16, 10 people had already been killed. By the end of the strike, the death toll had risen to 44.
Banners with the image of Mgcineni Noki aka “The Man in the Green Blanket” were placed all over the stage which had been set up for the memorial.
Mathunjwa said the workers who assembled at the koppie five years ago, were the real pioneers of radical economic emancipation.
‘This is the land God has given us’
He said five years later, no one had been punished for the killings of the workers adding that the commemoration was a reminder of how long the families of the deceased had suffered.
Mathunjwa has also called for the amendment of the electoral system to allow the country to elect a president instead of political parties.
He said there should be two political parties, namely Democrats and Labour Parties, and that the other parties would just have to look for employment.
Among the politicians were spiritual leaders, who opened proceedings with prayer and thanks-giving.
One of the pastors read from the book of Exodus 3, which stated, “This is the land God has given to us”.
‘They threw it back at me’
When EFF leader Julius Malema arrived, the masses were heard shouting, “Juju juju juju”.
First to take to the stand was DA leader Mmusi Maimane saying the Marikana massacre was something South Africans should never forget.
“We stand together because there is a dictator who killed our people five years ago but they protect him. What happened here five years ago deserves justice,” Maimane said.
He said they won’t rest until that dictator was out, adding that the Gupta money should go to the workers.
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader General Bantu Holomisa said he was one of the first who came to Marikana after the shooting. He said it was time to change government.
“I gave Mantashe and Ramaphosa the ball last week and they threw it back at me,” Holomisa said.
Addressing the crowd, Malema said it was a day to remember the fallen heroes.
“The reason we came here, is to remember our fellow comrades who were killed here asking for a living wage. Those who are in power would want us to forget the brutality which was unleashed by the police under the ANC government against innocent workers who were asking for a living wage,” Malema said.
August 16 should be a day which should be celebrated all over the world and not only in Marikana.
“August 16 must be like June 16, because there is nothing different between June 16 and Sharpeville day and Marikana day. Workers, [the] working class was killed by the government, therefore we must remember this day all over South Africa so that government does not repeat a similar mistake,” he said.
He said when the EFF was established in Marikana, most leaders didn’t want to be associated with the people and said they were criminals.
“Ours is not to pay revenge, it is to say to them you were wrong to declare genuine demands of workers as demands of criminals. This day does not exclusively belong to anyone, it belongs to the working class in South Africa and it must be celebrated by all,” he said.
Malema concluded by saying they gave Amcu a million rand to build houses for the families, adding that they are going to contribute more.
“Amcu must know they got an alliance in the EFF, if you want anything raised in Parliament, and you want it to be raised without fear or favour, come to us – we will raise it and the whole world would pay attention.”
Lonmin CEO Ben Magara who also took the stand said Amcu is now the majority union at Lonmin.
Magara said they remained committed to working with the families.
When EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu delivered his speech, he slammed the government’s promises of compensation payment as “lies”.
“There has been no justice in Marikana for the past five years. It is a disgrace that we are talking about five years and yet not a single cent has been paid in compensation to our people,” Mpofu said.
Mpofu said the government was continuing to torture the people, and that it was time for Zuma to stop playing with the people.
At the end of the commemoration widows of the slain men, and family members were each handed flowers and candles which were then placed in the shape of a cross next to the stage.