Pledging Solidarity with the Marikana Workers and the Working Class

Statement by the Marxist Study Group. (Namibia). 21 August 2012.


We wish to condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of mine workers at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa last week. This massacre of at least 34 miners by the police, armed with automatic weapons, is simply an outrage. The workers were striking for better wages and did not deserve to be massacred.

This terrible incident holds important lessons for the Namibian working class who should realize that this could happen to us as well even in a politically independent Namibia. We should remain vigilant that the real reason for Namibia’s ever-increasing military budget is to protect the elite from the eventual mass uprising of the working class.

Another crucial lesson is that the police (and military) leadership do not side with the working class. It is crucial to draw the class line and to understand who is in the camp of the workers. Police officers will still shoot down workers if this is what their leadership tells them to do.

What happened at Marikana exposes the complicity of the reformist trade union leadership. This leadership is out of touch with the demands of the rank-and-file workers. Therefore the established COSATU unions have lost tremendous credibility while new unions are taking the lead. The only way out for COSATU is to break their stifling alliance with the ANC-SACP. The same class independence should be seriously considered by the Namibian trade unions in terms of their SWAPO alliance. This tragic incident confirms that the capitalist state – whether led by the ANC or SWAPO – will never be on the side of the workers. The Marikana mine, for example, is owned by Lonmin while Cyril Ramaphosa, an ANC central committee member, is an executive director of this company. Let’s not forget that our very own union leaders are co-opted through shares in the same industry disguised under Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

The evidence is clear that the capitalist governments will never be on the side of the working class because the ANC government, for example, lowered the tax rate for multi-national corporations like Anglo-American from 48% to 28%. The same Anglo-American Corporation largely owns Namibia, but the SWAPO government keeps that kind of information very secret. At the same time, the mining companies extract hundreds of billions from southern Africa every year through transfer pricing (exporting goods by understating the real value). COSATU found evidence of this. So, while our people are left to starve, without jobs and homes, the super-rich pay very little taxes and massively cheat on exports. After World War II, the tax rate on the capitalists was close to 70% which supported the social-democratic system in advanced capitalist countries. Consider what it would be like in a socialist society in which everyone can live a sufficient existence. Of course, in advanced countries today, the tax rate is also only 28%. The reality is that the main shareholder of Anglo-American is JP Morgan Chase, which has its head office in New York City.

We condemn the Marikana massacre and call on the entire Namibian working class to strike in solidarity with the South African working class. The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) workers have shown that the united action of workers can paralyze the state propaganda machines like the state television and radio stations that are currently off the air now for days. Let’s unite further across our borders and show our solidarity with the working class all over southern Africa and in the rest of the world!

Destroy Capitalism! Build Socialism!