The police claim that the original plan was to roll out the barb wire all at once, early in the morning and then surround and disperse the few strikers who had come to the koppie.
By Workers International Vanguard Party
The police claimed the one set of barbed wire was to protect the residential area. We know now this was not true. It seems that the real aim of rolling out the barbed wire in 2 directions was to create a channel to direct the strikers to the police with R5 rifles, where they were to be machine-gunned down. The barbed wire was rolled out bit by bit so that the rank and file striker were allowed out. The police knew the leaders would remain behind until the mass of strikers had dispersed safely. The police knew that if they rolled it all out at the same time, there would be a mass of strikers and the leaders would be mixed with the rank and file and there would be no chance to execute them.
After Mthunjwa spoke the miners on the 16th Aug 2012 they were already dispersing. Yet, the police still carried out their attack. Teargas was shot into the leadership group, splitting it, driving the front group with Mambush towards the TRT(Tactical Response Team) team who cut them down in a fusillade (firing squad).
The very police group, with General Naidoo, that was supposed to be bringing the medics to the dying and wounded at scene 1, left and went hunting strikers at koppie 3 for more than 1 hour. The Commission concluded that if the medics had come straight away, more lives could have been saved. The group of police with General Naidoo, which was to take care of the medics, was found to be the unit that killed the most strikers at koppie 3. At koppie 3, five different police units converged on the remaining strikers- thus their plan was to split the militant group, drive the one part to the firing squad, the other into the field, where they would be surrounded and shot. That was the real plan.
The Commission speculates that the strikers could have been attacking police because they had lost 2 of their comrades on the 13th Aug clash with the police. On the 13th Aug, the police, including General Mbembe, went to confront the ‘militant group’ that was marching back to the koppie. The police fired on the strikers and in the ensuing attack on the strikers, 2 workers were murdered by the police and 2 police were killed. Yet the Commission said the strikers would have motive for revenge and does not draw the same conclusion about the police. These same TRT members attacked General Mbembe and wanted to kill him on the 13th Aug because they felt his reckless actions had caused the loss of lives of 2 of their members. These same TRT were there at the massacre on the 16th Aug and they were leading members of the fusillade that gunned down Mambush and his comrades. Revenge was clearly on their mind. The Commission did not even mention this.
In fact, none of the police who pulled the trigger, except for some of their leaders, were even called to testify. Thus their written statements were checked by lawyers beforehand and cannot be taken seriously. In fact, except for the deaths of 2 strikers, the police did not and could not explain the deaths of the others at and around koppie 3. Even in the case of the 2 strikers where an explanation was given, it was consistent with strikers running away and not of attacking police.
The role of the Cabinet in the massacre
On the morning of the 17th Aug 2012, the then Minister of police, Nathi Mthetwa, had a joint parade with the National Commissioner of Police, of the police teams who had carried out the massacre.
Riah Phiyega said that the massacre was ‘the best of responsible policing’ [p 388]. In other words, shooting down unarmed protestors with machine guns, is what police should do, if the profits of big capital are being challenged..
In supporting the National Commissioner, the Minister of Police had the following to say:
‘You must know that as your Minister and on behalf of the Government, the Executive as a whole, on behalf of the President of the Republic, Commander in Chief of all the armed forces in this country, we are all behind you. We know what we have gone through this period, this week and we would want you to continue ensuring that lives are saved, property is protected against anybody who would want to do bad things in this country.… There will be criticism [inaudible – of lives?] lost but here as your leadership we are confident that what you have done you did it in trying to ensure that the rule of law reigns in South Africa. We are not going to allow anybody to run amok in the country, to want to turn South Africa into a banana republic. It would be painful and it is painful that in the process life is lost but we are a professional force and we must keep to that. We must ensure that at all times we do everything in our power so that anarchists do not think that SA is their stage. From the bottom of my heart as your Minister, I want to thank you on behalf of our government. I want to thank you and commend what you are doing. Continue to protect your country. Continue to protect the citizens of South Africa. It is your duty. It is your constitutional obligation. And I thank you.‟ [pages 389-390]
The statements by the ‘democratic’ government, was worse than the apartheid government after the Sharpville massacre in 1960. The apartheid government made no pretence that it represented the people but the ANC government does.
There is debate around details if the Cabinet met before the 16th Aug to order the massacre. The state denies this. But Mthethwa’s statement meant that the Cabinet did endorse the massacre and must have discussed it even if they were not all in the same room at the time. In addition, the government has never rebutted or challenged Mthethwa’s statement.
Even the expert of the police argued that it was impossible, in a democracy, for such armed forces to be gathered without the direction of the Executive. We agree with him. Mthethwa refused to answer any questions about the role of the executive prior to 17th Aug 2012, showing that he was deliberately hiding its role. ex-Cosatu leader, then MInister of Minerals, Susan Shabangu, had also indicated to Ramaphosa that she was on her way to a Cabinet meeting to get their intervention because the matter had allegedly gone beyond a labour dispute.
Even the Farlam Commission points to then Police Minister, Mthethwa’s involvement. When discussing one of the possible reasons for the decision of the NMF (National Management Forum of the police) on the 15th Aug 2012, to carry out the massacre, was due to support from the executive.
‘If guidance of the executive played a role, then it is probable that such guidance was conveyed to the NMF by Minister Mthethwa. The Commission wishes to emphasise that it is not finding that such „guidance‟ was given. It is, however, unable in the light of what has been said above to find positively in Minister Mthethwa‟s favour on the point.’ [p452-453]
In other words, it is highly likely that Mthethwa conveyed the blessing of Cabinet for the massacre to go ahead. The only thing which prevents a clear finding is that the state had destroyed evidence of the Executiveś involvement.
The statement by Mthethwa on the 17th Aug 2012, however, shows that the ANC government knew that a massacre was planned and was a willing tool of imperialism to crush a workers’ revolt.
Thus our conclusion is that the ANC government planned and carried out the Marikana massacre. Zuma and Blade knew about it, they all knew about it. Zuma must have given the order for the massacre.
The sudden trip out of the country by Zuma just before the 16th Aug 2012 was to disguise his leading role in the massacre
The role of Ramaphosa in the massacre
Ramaphosa did not have funds to buy shares in Lonmin. In fact Lonmin loaned his company, Shanduka, the funds to buy shares. Thus the Lonmin capitalists own Ramaphosa as indeed big capital/imperialism owns all the BEE capitalists.
During the 2012 strike the Lonmin bosses instructed Ramaphosa to use his political connections with the ANC government to get the armed forces in to crush it.
The Farlam Commission acknowledges that the events leading up the massacre started with Ramaphosa calling, meeting and emailing his political connections in the police and in Cabinet.
This is how the Farlam Commission summed up the relationship:
‘The interests of Lonmin, the African National Congress, and the interests of those with whom he had personal relationships, were not incompatible’ [page 434 para 980]
Thus we can see the true meaning of BEE- big capital uses a black face to carry out violence against the masses. BEE is an instrument of control by the capitalist in a situation where a white face was used in the past but is now unable to achieve the same result, namely the maintenance of super-exploitation.
So confident was Ramaphosa that the strike would be smashed on 16th Aug, that he scheduled a meeting with then NUM President Zokwana and NUM Secretary Baleni on the 17th Aug, to discuss rebuilding NUM at Lonmin.
One of the helicopters that was used in the massacre by the police was owned by Protea coin, a company that Ramaphosa was linked with. (in 2006 Ramaphosa had been a director of Rebserve, the owner of Protea security company).
Thus Ramaphosa was not only involved in providing security to the Lonmin mine through his security firm but also through political connections with the state and its armed forces.
The Farlam Commission had no problem with the Lonmin company stealing hundreds of millions from the workers and the country- that was apparently beyond the scope of the Commission. At the same time the Farlam Commission had no problem with Ramaphosa, the other Lonmin bosses and the state working together to perpetuate such theft by the capitalists. This shows the capitalist basis of the Commission. Exploitation is fine, according to Farlam, just use pistols and not automatic machine guns to shoot the workers.
Here was an ex mineworkers leader, Ramaphosa, who even the Farlam Commission found, was insufficiently paying attention to the underlying labour dispute (p 430-431). Yet he is sent around the world by the ANC govt to ‘mediate’ in disputes; he was even placed in charge of overseeing the Eskom crisis. His leading role in getting the state to set up a firing squad (a ‘fusillade’, in the words of the Commission) to execute mineworkers, whose conditions he knew deeply, shows that the upper middle class, whether black or white, in times of crisis, will always side with big capital. The unanimous endorsement of the massacre by the Cabinet is also political proof of this.
The SACP has long based its 2-stage theory of SA, that first, the ANC (the black middle class) must be placed in power and then, at some indefinite stage in the future, Socialism would magically appear. The SACP and Cosatu leaders have long placed unity with this black middle class, in the form of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance, above the need for working class unity, with the white worker and with other workers who are not ANC supporters.
The Marikana massacre is the logical consequence of the ANC-SACP-Cosatu alliance, of the SACP’s 2-stage revolution. Instead of placing workers’ interest into government, it ties workers’ interest to big capital. It did not matter that the Lonmin bosses had been stealing on a massive scale and the workers were rightfully rising against this. The positions of privilege of the ANC-SACP and Cosatu leaders were coming under threat. The ANC, SACP and Cosatu leaders united with the Lonmin bosses, against the workers. The NUM workers have changed their leaders but are still politically tied to the ANC, ie tied to suppress workers’ interest in favour of the black middle class.
Operation Fiela, which is a militarised crackdown on the masses, under the guise of an anti-crime operation, is proof that more massacres will happen. The real criminals, the big bosses, who steal hundreds of billions every year, are left untouched but some of the petty crooks are targeted for a short time, in a publicity stunt. This is a desperate attempt to rebuild the crooked image of the police, as is the capitalist media campaign which tries to portray the fake image of police being under attack. Yet many more people are still being killed by the police than the few deaths that are happening to them.
The above begins to sketch why all working class formations should break with the ANC.
The role of NUM as strike breakers
The role of a union is supposed to be to defend and advance the basic interests of their members. In the current stage of capitalist decline, we often find that the union leadership can become a major stumbling block in the path of the fight for workers’ demands. Instead of leading workers’ struggles, often the union leaders hold back the struggles of workers; the union leaders often openly side with the bosses.
In South Africa, since 1994, big capital/imperialism is ruling through the alliance of government with a major part of the trade unions, namely Cosatu, with the SACP as its theoretical head. It can be appropriately called an alliance for low wages, high profits and high unemployment.
Cosatu leaders and the SACP played a major role in watering down the demands of the masses before 1994- this process culminated in the RDP programme, a limited set of mild demands which curbed the demands of the masses for the expropriation of the commanding heights. Even this limited programme was not achieved and was watered down further into the Gear programme. Every mass action and general strike since 1994 was turned into a purely economic exercise which protected the rule of big capital. There have been many moments of resistance by the working class since 1990, where the masses began to break with the SACP and ANC, such as the occupation of the Mercedes Benz factory (1990) and the occupation of the VWSA factory (2000), the march of the soldiers to the Union buildings in 2009, etc. Each time the state in alliance with the SACP and Cosatu leaders has cracked down heavily on the working class.
The rise of the Social movements since 2000 was also a sign of the maturing of the masses and the breaking of constitutional illusions. The strike that started on the 10th Aug 2012 marked a qualitative break with the alliance, that unleashed not only the longest mineworkers strikes in the history of SA but led to the break of Numsa from the alliance. Independent workers committees were set up.
Not only did the NUM leaders sit with the police and Lonmin management to identify strike leaders, they actively encouraged workers to break the strike and drove around in transport, provided by the mine, to help encourage workers to go back to work. On the 11th Aug 2012, when workers were marching to the stadium, Num officials emerged from their office, guns in hand and shot at the unarmed strikers, 1 was killed and another seriously injured. What is strange is that there was a heavy police presence on the mine on the 10th Aug 2012. The next day, the 11th Aug, there was no significant presence of police when the NUM officials fired on the strikers.