WIVP - Open letter to the strikers at Marikana and all the supporters of the mineworkers

Workers International Vanguard Party, 5.9.2012


We salute you for your courage and determination in the face of massive opposition from the combined forces of big capital, the state and their allies within the workers movement.

On Wed 29th August 2012, Minister Shabangu was in Australia to assure investors that 'South Africa remains a friendly investment destination and the country will not allow renegade elements to subvert the rule of law'. In short, what she was saying is that the state will not hesitate to commit another Marikana massacre to safeguard the profits of any of the mining capitalists. Indeed on Monday 3rd Sept 2012 another 4 mineworkers were killed at a Gold mine by the forces of the capitalists. The question is : who are the renegades- in fact it is the masses who suffer daily from super-exploitation and who decide to rise up against the capitalists and their agents. We are all renegades, in the eyes of the state!

We have noticed that it is the strategy of the state and the Platinum bosses (Lonmin, Anglo and others) to delay settlement in the dispute- they are hoping to tire and divide the workers, trying every means of initimidation and state violence against you. We urge you to stay united- the direction of the fight must be taken by majority decision in a general meeting- when the day comes that the majority decides to return to work, then it is important that all workers adhere to that- if many go back and a few remain outside- they will be victimized by the company and the state. For now, your decision is to continue and thus every effort must be made to prepare for a long and hard fight. We have some suggestions for preparations for the coming period, for you to consider:

1. To date there have been solidarity pickets in a number of countries around the world at SA embassies and in strategic harbours: eg Namibia, Kenya, Ireland, Austria, Argentina, Canada, Oakland harbour in California. There are plans for pickets in Chile, France and other countries. It is important for you to make a call for international solidarity for all your demands including for the immediate unconditional release of the 270 arrested strikers, which will strengthen the international protest movement;(many of the strikers have been released but charges are still pending- these should all be dropped)

2. How to build and expand the local protest movement:

- we are calling for the revival of the Parent-Teacher-Student committees of the 1980's, centred on the schools in the working class communities. At any of the schools in the mining townships, we call for such a committee to be formed, to come and address the strikers and then to go to the Lonmin management to put forward their demands that they meet the workers demands for R12500, for the immediate release of all the arrested strikers; for full compensation of the families of the dead and injured and for all the mines to stop stealing the wealth of the country (through transfer pricing and other shady mechanisms). They can give the company an ultimatum to meet the demands failing which, by a day next week (whenever the community decides), the schools and parents will march to the company.

-at the same time it is important to link up with all other mines and the workers and communities there; thus it is important to call for the formation of parent teacher student organizations in all mining communities, and for them to give all the mines a similar ultimatum (the demand of a minimum of R12500 is for all mineworkers, even for cleaners and all general workers). This is important as it will immediately unite all workers across the all the mines and broaden the struggle. Parent-teachers and students can collect food and medicines for the strikers.

-   it is important to clarify that the R12500 must be linked to prices- whenever prices go up, then the R12500 must go up- not wait for the next year cycle.

-we are not saying workers must resign from this or that union- it would be important for workers in their unions to replace any leadership that is tied to the bosses or who hold any management position. thus we could also raise that any official must earn only R12500 per month and not more. The point is to break the unions from ties with the bosses but also, to unite workers workers irrespective of any union affiliation. If any union claims they are with the workers, let them help to organise and send delegates to an immediate mineworkers congress, which also has delegates from all mineworkers communities. This congress can work out the next steps in solidarity, such as an industry-wide strike, collection of funds and various solidarity actions. It must be noted that the mine companies are reported to be stealing R600bn a year through transfer pricing- this is besides the hundreds of billions they take out as profits every year. Here are the funds for employment for all youth, and all unemployed, for decent houses for all, for free quality health care and liberatory education for all. The mining bosses should be given an ultimatum to return all the wealth they stole over the years, failing which the workers should occupy and take control of the mines. Unions are by their nature, open to compromise with the bosses; it must be remembered that the Implats workers won gains because they were united as workers and had their own workers committees.

-the struggle at Lonmin goes beyond unions and begins to pose the question: to whom does the wealth produced at the mines belong to? In the 1980's we set up street committees and block committees as well as industrial area locals; perhaps the time has come to set them up again, uniting all industrial workers delegates with delegates from the unemployed and the youth. we need to realize that the Zuma, Motlanthe, Mandela families and others of the elite, all have shares on the mines. The government is the agent of the mining bosses from the rich imperialist countries. the slogan of break the alliance with the govt and the bosses, must be taken into the union congresses in September. This must go hand in hand with the call for an independent working class party to be formed. Workers: take control of NUM, Cosatu and your unions! We suggest that you raise the call for street, block, factory, farm, mine Marikana workers solidarity committees to be set up around the country and including for a days of action starting with Sat 8th Sept. Why we suggest the Sat is that most workers will be off work and the school students will be at home. It will also give a mobilising rallying call and morale boost for strikers and their families for the next, difficult weeks. If your mass meeting makes this call, millions around the country and even around the world, will heed this call- this will give direction to the solidarity committees that are springing up like mushrooms around the country- we know of solidarity committees in at least 4 provinces already. This will lay the basis for future solidarity actions.

-big capital know that if they give in now to the workers at Lonmin then tomorrow all workers will stand up, not only on the mines, but also in every industry- the unions fear that because it will mean the end of unions - but the bosses fear it more because they use unions to make workers shut up- they use the unions to accept the peanuts of 10% or less while the bosses make billions- that is why Lonmin is promoting unions- they need them to make workers accept peanuts and then to keep quiet for the next year.

- we call on you to call on all other mineworkers to pressurise all the unions to release the workers money to them, to help sustain the strikers.

-we want to make it clear that ANC and SACP workers are not the enemy- we are opposed to the capitalist policies of their organizations and of any of their leaders who knowingly implements their pro-boss policies. To the SACP workers we say: here is the ANC govt massacring the workers, why is the SACP still in alliance with a murderous, capitalist govt? Why don’t you break from this alliance with the ANC govt? To the working class activists we say: surely we need an independent, international working class party (mines take workers from across Southern Africa).

-we call for you to send workers delegates to go to the far corners of the region (not only in SA but wherever the mineworkers are drawn from, to explain your side of the story. We also call for the solidarity groups to make information leaflets and a website where you tell your story to the world. We salute your call for the media companies to release the full video tapes of the massacre including where the hippos are driving over strikers.

- we propose a rejection of both the state and 'civil society' Commissions and call for a Commission, under the control of the mineworkers themselves, to investigate conditions in the entire mining industry, including the level of stealing by the mining capitalists.

We call on you to consider the above. Qina Msebenzi, Qina! The government is the government for the rich; need a workers government but this will only come through grassroots workers committees on the ground in every factory, farm and mine and every working class community, being co-ordinated by a new international working class party. Forward to Socialism!             


Yours in struggle   Workers International Vanguard Party.