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epa03363275 South African police check the bodies of striking mineworkers shot dead at the Wonderkop informal settlement near Marikana platinum mine, Rustenburg, South Africa, 16 August 2012. Reports indicate police opened fire on the striking mine workers, who were seeking a wage hike, killing at least seven people. The Marikana platinum mine owned by Lonmin is in the middle of a violent industrial dispute exacerbated by inter-union tensions. EPA/STR

The NUM officials were well aware the RDO’s at Lonmin were underpaid but signed a two year agreement with Lonmin, where they were the sole bargaining union, which excluded addressing the wage demands of the RDO’s. This agreement was due to last until late in 2013. The NUM leaders were thus an instrument of the bosses, holding back the wage demands of the workers.

By Workers International Vanguard Party

The Farlam report debates whether NUM could have prevented the strike. The NUM leaders admit they could have raised the demands of the demands of the Rock drillers with the management. They refused to do so. Right up to a few minutes before the massacre took place the Lonmin bosses refused to come to the Koppie to meet with the workers. At stake was not just a meeting of a group of workers, but the entire labour relations system which is based on cheap labour and has the unions in a subjugated role of being the policemen within the workers’ movement to hold back workers demands. If management agreed to negotiate with the workers directly, the next day at Amplats and every other mine and every other workplace, the workers would brush their unions aside and negotiate directly with the bosses using mass action methods. This is further evidence that Anglo American was indeed behind the massacre as they had the most to lose (Anglo controls the SA economy).

 

In Jan Theron’s book, Solidarity Road, he points out the origin of NUM. Ramaphosa was given access to the mines by the bosses to set up NUM when it did not have members. The capitalist class was scared of a radical union arising on the mines so they helped build up NUM as a means of controlling the mineworkers and ensuring that the cheap labour system of the SA economy is maintained. The class role that NUM has always played, leads directly to them siding with the bosses against any spontaneous uprising of the working class on the mines.

 

The events that led to the Marikana massacre showed the true class role of the Cosatu leaders in times of revolution.

 

The ANC partnership with the apartheid police

The operational control on the ground on the 16th Aug 2012 was placed in the hands of Brig Calitz and Gen Vermeulen, both apartheid policemen. Overall command was Gen Mpembe who controlled the massacre from an office at Lonmin, except for a few minutes in a helicopter, when the massacre started.

 

A video of Calitz congratulating the police who had carried out the massacre, was not initially submitted to the Commission. The Commission concluded that it had been deliberately concealed.

 

‘Although the briefing was recorded by the SAPS on videotape, the videotape was initially not disclosed by the SAPS. It was not on the SAPS external hard drive which was provided to the Commission, despite the fact that videos in the same sequence before and after it were on the hard drive. The indications are that it was deliberately concealed.’ [p398]

 

In this video Calitz indicated that he had  been to meet President Zuma on the previous day (which was the 17th Aug 2012). Zuma had announced the formation of the Commission of Enquiry. Calitz went on to congratulate the police saying:

 

‘From the planning to the execution was 110%. Exactly how we plan it and it is not often that this happens in this large group. I have to congratulate you. Exactly how we planned it and we briefed the commanders, exactly we executed in that line.’ [p399]

 

In other words Calitz admits that the plan was to massacre and that it was carried out 100%.

 

At the 13th Aug 2012 attack by police on the strikers, Gen Mpembe was there. The police fired first on a group of strikers led by Mambush; 2 strikers were killed but also 2 of the TRT police. They were so infuriated by Mpembe- wanting to kill him- it implies that he was the one who gave the order to shoot. From this the police realized that the ANC appointee, Gen Mpembe, was too inexperienced to carry out the massacre. This was the background to Calitz and Vermeulen, apartheid police, leading the massacre on the ground, while Mpembe, nominally in charge of the operation, was based at the Lonmin offices. The ANC relied on the experience of the apartheid police still in the ranks of the state, to carry out the massacre of the leaders of the strike. The very ones who were raised to hate black people in general, were used by the black political elite against the black working class. The class interest of the apartheid elite and the black elite coincided; they united against the working class.

 

This is the reason why imperialism had insisted on the so-called sunset clauses before 1994 and which Joe Slovo infamously promoted. Imperialism needed trained killers, who had blood on their hands, to carry out attacks on the masses in the case of any threat of revolution.

 

The ANC is now a party of massacres. What difference is there now between it and the DA? This is another reason for the working class to break from any alliance with the ANC, and indeed from the SACP.

 

The role of AMCU

In July 2012, the bosses of Lonmin already informed Amcu of workers placing demands on them. Amcu demanded a place at the negotiating table.

 

On the first day of the strike, on the 10th Aug 2012 Mr Mokwena of Lonmin called Mthunjwa of Amcu to tell him of rumours of a strike. On that very same day Mthunjwa wrote a letter to Lonmin.

 

‘The management should not take extreme measures in addressing the predicament of the employees by giving undue recognition to „these sinister forces‟, which he claimed were behind the situation.’ Farlam report page 495.

 

Further, both NUM and AMCU confirmed (p485) that they were not involved in the formulating of the demands of R12 500 for the RDO’s (Rock Drill Operators).

 

Thus from the beginning Amcu showed that they were against the independently organised workers’ committees. They wanted the Lonmin bosses to meet them not the workers’ committees.

 

Again on the 13th Aug 2012, Jomo Kwadi of Lonmin called Amcu to ask them to intervene.

 

Imperialism and the Lonmin bosses realised that NUM leaders were incapable of controlling the workers; thus they called in Amcu to help get workers under control, ie to re-establish the cheap labour system at the mine. They needed Amcu to prevent a political explosion against the regime.

 

In the industry-wide mining revolt that followed the Marikana massacre, the AMCU leaders refused to expose the full scale of the robbery by the mining bosses, even though they were in possession of such information. In the Farlam Commission, the research presented by Amcu was only an exposure of some of the theft by the Lonmin bosses, not of Anglo American, the main player in mining in SA and the rest of Africa.

 

The mining bosses used Amcu as a means to control the mineworkers revolt after the Marikana massacre. The independent mineworkers committees were suppressed by Amcu. Thus the revolt was turned onto a purely economistic basis, a trade union level, and away from a challenge to the capitalist system and its state.

 

Many workers returned to the NUM ‘prison’ after the strike despite their intense hatred for the leaders. It was this hatred that drove a total change in leadership in NUM at its recent Congress.

 

Our position is proved correct in that we argued at the time that workers should not leave NUM but take it over. Imagine if both NUM and Numsa decided to break the alliance with the ANC and SACP. They would have spearheaded the Socialist revolution in SA. As it is, many on the left argued that workers should join Amcu, thereby aiding the turning of a political revolt into a harmless trade union struggle within the framework of capitalism.

 

Imperialism backs many horses; when one is discredited they will use others to control the masses. At the time of the massacre the NUM  President was on the payroll of Anglo Gold Ashaanti, while the Presidents of UASA, AMCU and Solidarity were on the payroll of BHP Billiton.

 

It was against this collusive links between unions and the bosses that the workers’ revolt happened and independent mineworkers committees were set up.

 

It was after Mthunjwa pleaded with workers on the 16th Aug 2012, that they started to disperse from the koppie. Unfortunately the departure of most of the workers left the ‘militant group’ of strikers leaders exposed to the planned police attack. Imperialism used the Amcu leaders without them fully realizing that imperialism planned to smash the strike leadership. The police knew that once workers started dispersing, the leadership would remain behind until the workers had safely left the area. This was the whole idea behind the consecutive rollout of barbed wire, which would allow the rank and file striker out but was deliberately set to surround the leaders, laying the basis for their execution by firing squad (The Farlam Commission used the word ‘fusillade’ , which is really the same thing).

 

The role of the capitalist media

The SAPS PR Mashego and SAPS media officers issued 2 materially different statements on the 17th Aug 2012. The report to Zuma indicated clearly that there were 2 incidents, the initial massacre then a follow up massacre a few minutes later when workers were hunted down and executed in cold blood. The second statement referred only to one incident, as if the only thing that happened was a clash of strikers with police which resulted in some strikers being killed.

 

The mass media, who all were present at the scene of the massacre all reported as if there was only one incident. They deliberately covered up on the hunt and execution that occurred later. Much of the mass media are controlled by Anglo American and other big capitalists. The strikers were demonised and the truth covered up. This was media manipulation to deliberately isolate the strikers and prevent a broader response than in the mining sector. The capitalist media also played its role in the control of the masses.

 

The SACP and Cosatu leaders also played a major role in demonising and isolating the strikers. This played a key role in isolating the strikers from the rest of the organised working class. Cosatu should have spearheaded the calling of a general strike in support of the mineworkers but instead the Cosatu leaders painted the strikers as thugs and criminals in order to cover up the fact that their alliance partner massacred workers on behalf of Anglo American and the rest of big capital.

 

The ANC is committed to carrying out more massacres and just as strongly, the Cosatu and SACP leaders are committed to its alliance with them.

 

Flaws in the terms of reference- covering up the role of the ANC government in the massacre

 

In 2013, when the state realised that mineworkers would not be happy with the outcome of the Commission, it was moved out of Rustenburg, to Pretoria.

 

Proclamation 30 of 2014 limited the scope of the Commission to remove any finding against any government ministry. Thus the main role of the state as the executioner of the 34 mineworkers at Marikana, was removed from the scope of the Commission. This was most likely on the instruction of imperialism, to blur the role of the state as the instrument of violence of big capital.

 

The following paragraph was removed from the terms of reference:

 

‘1.5 The role played by the Department of Mineral Resources or any other government department or agency in relation to the incidents and whether this was appropriate in the circumstances, and consistent with their duties and obligations according to law.’

 

Even the police experts reported that there was no way that all the TRT units from around the country could gather at Marikana, without the instruction of the President. The Commission could not pronounce on it as this mandate was now removed from its scope (page 6 of the Report).

 

Farlam cleared the ANC government of its role in the massacre despite noting that the then Minister Shabangu had stated on the 15th Aug 2012, that the events had escalated into a security or policing matter. Shabangu had indicated she was on her way to a Cabinet meeting although evidence of this meeting has disappeared. Farlam did not see any need to refer Shabangu or Zuma to the ethics commission. Apparently planning and executing a massacre for big capital is within the scope of government ethics!

 

The role of Commissions of Inquiry under capitalism is to protect the system and to establish individual scapegoats at best, while covering up the truth in plain sight. They are an instrument control over the masses, defusing and postponing conflict until the anger of the masses have been pacified or neutralised.

 

Outsourcing paramilitary security at Lonmin

 

Lonmin gave evidence as if they moved away from paramilitary security in 2011. This was to hide their role in perpetrating the massacre. In reality what happened was the Lonmin paramilitary Nyalas were sold to Protea coin security, who was the outsourced company that now assisted with security. Protea coin company is linked to Cyril Ramaphosa.

 

On the role of Lonmin in the massacre

 

Besides the direct role of Lonmin Director, Ramaphosa in the massacre, there is a wealth of evidence which shows that the Lonmin bosses were a major part of it:

 

  1. There was no separate security structure of Lonmin and the police during strike.

  2. The Lonmin security heads were part of the Police joint Ops structure on a 24 hour basis;

  3. A Lonmin helicopter was used in the massacre and the hunting down of strikers

  4. Lonmin shared all their video and surveillance material with the police

  5. Lonmin bosses and security were part of the radio communication of the police, including on the day of the massacre.

  6. The Lonmin security were part of the planning of the police for the massacre

  7. The Lonmin security deployed with the police on the 13th Aug to hunt and shoot a group of peacefully marching workers returning to the koppie.

 

Despite this, the Farlam Commission says this was part of normal practice when dealing with strikes and is allowed by law.

 

This shows that the state is the armed wing of the capitalist class. Farlam confirms it.