Thursday, 23 August 2012

South African Police Shoot Miners

"Miners in South Africa have largely defied a deadline issued by their employer to return to work today. More than 70 percent of the workers at the Marikana Platinum mine stayed off the job, and officials with the mining company, Lonmin, said that the mine was unable to restart full production. The stalemate continues after a controversial week in which police opened fire on a group of workers, killing 34. FSRN’s Davison Mudzingwa reports."

 Naturally comparisons to Apartheid era policing in particular Sharpesville, are very common on the internet in the aftermath of this bloody confrontation. It reminds me of two old joke on Spitting Image, one was P.W.Botha claiming it had been a good year for protests in South Africa,when challenged by the number of deaths by police for protesters he countered by saying it was less then last year. Another was about Mugabe, he was being criticised for his attacks on the Zimbabwean People's Union (ZAPU) a mostly black rival to his ZANU (The Patriotic Front PF was added after unity agreements) he argued that this was proof of the lie of white superiority since his government could crush African dissent better then Ian Smith could.

It's always saddening to see life imitate satire. Anyway I'm sure everyone reading this is appalled at this tragedy. Still the Miners refusal to bow to even this pressure has forced Zuma and the ANC to act and a probe into the deaths is being compiled. Though given that the investigation includes Cabinet Ministers, the entirety of whom have been criticised for lack of support for working class South Africans before its doubtful their findings will be satisfactory to anyone.With Lonmin the company owning the Marikana mine keen to distance themselves from this event and pin the blame fully on the police ignoring the fact that it was there business practices that led to the strike in the first place. Classy, its also nice that the Board of Lonmin have their priorities straight, after reiterating a "get back to work or your fired" statement they were keen to stress the importance of rebuilding the brand "We have not been arrogant. We have to rebuild the Lonmin brand, rebuild the platinum brand and brand South Africa." Yes clearly that is the most important victim here, the PR image of a Platinum trading company. Oh how I wish I could honestly say the naked self interest displayed was surprising to me.

There is however some good that came of this however. South African police and the ANC have now lost the ability to use Apartheid era brutality as an excuse and false measure of progress. If Zuma and the ANC and there partners the South African Communist Party -whom have been very enthusiastic about supporting every ANC Government- genuinely want to represent a prosperous and united South Africa then they'll have to stop making excuses and take on the challenges to their society and alleviate the grievances of their citizens whether in the townships or out in the mines and quarries of the North West state.

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