WIVP Statement on Marikana Commission of Inquiry in South Africa

We denounce the Marikana Commission of Inquiry; Forward to the occupation and seizure of the mines by the workers; Prepare the way for a regional general strike

 

We denounce the Commission of Inquiry set up by ANC-SACP regime into the Marikana massacre. The main aim of this Commission is to prevent immediate solidarity actions by the rest of the working class; it is to save the capitalist system from challenge by the working class; it is to prevent a Tahrir uprising in South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. It is also to cover up on the crimes of the capitalist state.

The state attacks the workers but the police, the Lonmin bosses and ANC-SACP government have 5 months to cover their tracks

On the 16th August, 259 workers who survived the massacre were arrested; on the 20th August they were denied bail- their crime? Being part of the daily strikers mass meeting. The prosecutors argued they are a threat to ‘national security’. They are being held in jail while the state conducts ‘further investigation’. Really the main aim of the state was to behead the strike, to keep the surviving leaders in jail, while they go ahead with all measures to crush the strike. The strikers do not have a 5 month period to wait for inquiry, many leaders are dead, many others are in jail, right now.

On the other hand, the killers, those who perpetrated the massacre are free, roaming around, able to commit more massacres at any time. A number of workers were shot in the head, a number were shot in the back. What more clear evidence is needed? Why are the police, their commanders and Lonmin management not put in jail and then further investigation done? Take the case of Thembinkosi Gwelani who was shot from a helicopter in the back of his head. The bullet exited his head from the forehead. This is what his brother said:

“We could not recognize him when we went to see him at the morgue; he was bleeding from his nose, ears and eyes. I only saw it was him because I know him.”

Have the police and their commanders been arrested? No. There are many reports that police deliberately drove over some strikers who had survived the massacre, one officer allegedly shouted: “this dog is not dead, finish him”. The police drove over a dying man with a Nyala ( a ‘hippo’) when they realised he was not dead. Workers were dragged from where they were hiding and shot in cold blood. The police posed for pictures after the slaughter, next to their ‘kills’, before they decided to call the ambulances for the wounded. The police swept clean the massacre scene by the Monday 21st August. Yet, not a single policeman nor their commanders are in jail!

Lonmin management met with the police before the massacre. Is the Lonmin management in jail? No, they are out on free foot. The terms of reference of the ‘Commission’ includes the following:

Whether Lonmin Plc ‘employed sufficient safeguards and measures to ensure the safety of its employees, property….’

Let’s see the picture, Lonmin has been, together with Anglo American and other capitalists, stealing R600bn (20% of GDP) every year, and this is not questioned. Surely here is one indicator of the massive exploitation that mineworkers suffer daily; not only that, here is one indicator of how the mining capitalists are directly responsible for the mass unemployment of our youth, of mass homelessness, of the collapsed public health care and education system in the sub-region? But no: This ‘Commission’ will look at whether Lonmin capitalists took enough measures to protect their ‘property’- should they maybe have hired mercenaries as security guards? Should they have used bazookas instead of automatic rifles to shoot the workers- this is what the Commission will look at!

The hills where workers were shot down like dogs, is 3km from the gates of Lonmin. It was not even on Lonmin property. Why were the police surrounding the strikers with razor wire and then attacking them? Surely the only ones to benefit from the dispersal of strikers, was the Lonmin management. But the link between the police and the Lonmin management is not even part of the ‘Commission’s brief.

NUM General secretary, Frans Baleni, who earns R1.4 million per year (more than 20 times the wage of a rock driller) urged the police to shoot the strikers: ‘Andries Tatane was killed. And in this case they don’t act?’ Yet the focus of the ‘Commission’ is ‘whether the unions had exercised its best endeavours to resolve any disputes which may have arisen between itself and Lonmin or other unions or other parties’. In other words the focus of the Commission is why the unions did not persuade their members to accept a less than 10% wage ‘increase’ like the rest of the working class has had to suffer, amid rising cost of living prices. It will not investigate the active collusion of the union leadership with the management to keep workers waged down while profits are sky high, the highest ever in history. The strike of the workers at Lonmin is not just a strike over wages but a spontaneous uprising by the working class against the capitalist system. We are all Marikana strikers. They represent the fight against the failure of the Cosatu leaders to fight high food, transport, electricity, housing prices. It is not a union fight, but a fight against the capitalist system. It is a fight against the complicity of the ANC-SACP government to keep the working class in poverty and starvation while the Anglo American and other capitalists take out over R1000bn from the country every year, it is the start of the fight against Anglo American and its enslavement of the working class in the entire region. Among the slaughtered are 2 workers from Swaziland and one from Lesotho. The entire subregion sub-Sahara is one giant slave camp for imperialism.

Cyril Ramaphosa, an ANC NEC member, is a director of Lonmin. Yet the ‘Commission’ will not even look at the link between the ANC, Lonmin and the massacre. It will not even look at the link between the Presidency and the massacre: How is it that the militarised police, which was set up by the ANC-SACP government, gathered on the 16th August, with members from around the country, in service of the Lonmin management? This must have received the approval of the Presidency, if not the entire cabinet!  The style of massacre reflects the FBI training. These massacres occur regularly by the regime in the DRC, by the Israeli state and by the Syrian regime. But the link to Anglo American, to US imperialism and its agencies, will not be part of the Commission’s work. The Cosatu leaders have done nothing while the world-wide massacres by the forces of Anglo American are continuing. Our struggle is part of the world uprising of the masses against the capitalist system.

The pro-capitalist nature of the Commission is reflected by its members: Judge Ian Farlam’s speciality is the banks- these same banks that are plundering the world today. This judge began as a prosecutor in 1962, when the nationalist liberation movements were crushed and the state hunted down any opposition that dared to raise its head. Such is the atrocious track record of the head of the ‘Commission’. Bantubonke Tokota is an executioner of workers- a labour court judge; his claim to fame is defending a drunken high court judge; Pingla Hemraj is the darling of the Durban Chamber of Commerce- her claim to fame is defending Zuma’s bodyguard from a charge of having shot at an 84 year old. The ‘Commission’ is set up in terms of a colonial law of 1947- which shows that protection of capitalists and the imperialists is the cornerstone of its work. The massacred have no representative on this capitalist fraud ‘Commission’. Will any evidence that implicates the capitalists or the state really have any chance of being uncovered?

Despite the capitalist nature of the ‘Commission’, the Cosatu leadership and affiliate leadership support the Commission. The Samwu leadership, which starts a critique of the massacre, does not even call for the strikers to be released; they say no more Marikana’s. But in 1994 it was said: No more Sharpvilles, no more Langa massacres, and here comes the ‘democratic’ regime and commits a Marikana massacre. This is the point.

The terrible conditions of the Platinum belt, as exposed in the Bench Marks report, which is itself a watered-down version of the reality facing the mineworkers, is mostly the responsibility of Anglo American, the main player in the entire mining industry, let alone the Platinum mining areas. Yet the ‘Commission’ will not even examine the key role of Anglo American in the massive theft from the country and region, since its establishment, more than 100 years ago.

The ‘Commission’ gives a platform for reactionaries like the ISS, the imperialist agency the Institute for Security Studies, to come and argue, like they have said on public record, they would also have given the order to shoot to kill, they say the police acted correctly by shooting workers in the back, driving them over with Nyalas. They give a platform for reactionaries like Commissioner of Police, Phiyega, who said the police have nothing to be sorry for. They give a platform for the SACP leaders who say nothing against Lonmin, but deliberately distort events by promoting the capitalist lie that workers believed in muti and thus the strikers ‘attacked’ the police! The SACP leaders blame the recent decline in demand for the ‘tensions’, but ignore the massive increase in profit levels of Anglo American over the past 10 years. The SACP does not even call the events a massacre but support the capitalist ‘Commission’ as ‘proof’ that the government really cares for the masses. There is no call by the SACP for the release of the arrested strikers. We call on rank and file SACP members to challenge your leaders on their support for the state in this massacre- break with the SACP and join together with forces building a new revolutionary International, that sides with the strikers in our fight against the capitalist system.

On the ‘civil society’ ‘Commission’: The first thing the ‘civil society’ forum did was to put the NUM leaders on the panel of discussion. The Cosatu leaders are complicit in the Marikana massacre, they have even supported Lonmin’ ultimatum to dismiss the strikers, how can the leaders of NUM be part of an investigation into the events? Secondly, the role of the church has been to ask workers to cry tears, find ‘closure’ and go back to work. In other words, the churches play the role of ‘turning the other cheek’ and for going back into the same slavery conditions that the capitalists dictate. Some of the participants are interested in film rights, rather than a focus to expose the massacre and present a platform for the massacred to expose their side of the events.

Workers themselves have said that the ‘Commission’ is a farce. What is needed is a United Front Marikana campaign committee that is controlled by the strikers themselves, that presents their side of events, including a verified list of the dead, injured and the missing, that mobilises the entire working class in support of the strike, in a national, regional and international campaign.

We call for immediate mobilisation for a general strike on the mines on the following demands:

·         Immediate release of all strikers arrested

·         Lift the state of emergency in Rustenberg and surrounding areas

·         Arrest of all the police, their commanders up to the highest level, the Lonmin bosses and all perpetrators of the 16th August Marikana massacre

·         R12500 minimum wage for all mineworkers

·         Open the books of all mines to workers’ inspection

·         Return of all the wealth stolen by the mining bosses through transfer pricing

·         Arrest of Anglo American and other bosses guilty of transfer pricing.

·         Comprehensive compensation for the massacred and injured mineworkers and families

We call for an immediate congress of mineworkers delegates to be held in Marikana, irrespective of union affiliation, whether unionised or not, local or immigrant, to co-ordinate the workers occupation and seizure of the mines based on the above demands.

We call for the extension of joint mineworkers and community committees to all the mining areas; we call for Marikana solidarity committees to be set up in every workplace and in every working class area, based on workers delegates from the workplaces but also including the unemployed, local and immigrant workers. Such committees should be spread to Swaziland, Lesotho and indeed the entire sub-region. These committees will prepare the way to a general strike in the region based on:

·         An end to the transfer pricing by Anglo American and other monopolies

·         Work for all- reducing the working day so that all who are unemployed are put to work, without loss of pay to the existing employed workers

·         A living wage for all- wages should rise when prices rise- no more multi-year agreements

·         End to casualization and labour broking

·         Solidarity with the masses in Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, who face not only massacres by their regimes but betrayal by their own leadership of the working class movement who are openly collaborating with imperialism.

The worker’s families are not calling for compensation; what they are saying is that they will continue the fight ‘until those who took the lives of their loved ones, bring them back to life’. In other words, they will fight until the system that took the lives of their sons, is no more.

Let us take forward the fighting spirit of the Spanish mineworkers of Asturias and Leon, who have been occupying the coal mines in the north of Spain for more than 50 days now- they set up their own self-defence committees to protect themselves from the attacks of the state.

We call for marches across the country to all SA government offices and to all SA Embassies across the globe under the slogan: The ANC is not our govt; you are the agent of Lonmin, Anglo American and other mining capitalists. Now is the time to kick out the treacherous Cosatu leaders; break the alliance with the capitalist ANC and SACP. Now is the time for a revolutionary working class party to be formed, locally, regionally and internationally. The state and big capital are organised internationally, why are the forces of the working class so divided? Let the ruling classes tremble at the socialist revolution. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a world to win. Workers of all countries, Unite!

 

26.8.2012 Workers International Vanguard Party ph 021 4476777 ph 0822020617, workersinternational@gmail.com , website: www.workersinternational.org.za

 

WE ARE ALL MARIKANA STRIKERS