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Four reasons why NUMSA rejects Cyril Ramaphosa’s un-apology for Marikana

9 May 2017, Posted in Press Releases

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, (NUMSA) rejects the un-apology made by the Deputy President of the country and the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, regarding his role in the Marikana Massacre. Ramaphosa was the chairperson of Lonmin mines, at the time of the massacre and Deputy president of the country.

In the email which he sent to Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, Albert Jamieson the day before the fateful killing of workers on August 16, 2012, Ramaphosa described the strike action taken by the miners as ‘dastardly criminal acts’ which required ‘concomitant action’ to address the situation. Ramaphosa’s apology nearly five years later are just empty words. There is no substance to his expression of regret and below are five reasons why:

1. At the time that the miners of Marikana were shot down by South African police Ramaphosa was Deputy president of the country, as well as chairman of Lonmin mines. The labour dispute which sparked the violent strike at Marikana was precipitated by poor wages, and poor working conditions of miners in the area. Ramaphosa’s past experience as a trade unionist and founder of NUM did nothing to improve the conditions of miners in Marikana.

Under his watch as a Lonmin executive the majority of miners lived, and continue to live in the same hovels which existed under Apartheid. It was the dehumanizing experience of living in squalor, in shacks with no water, no electricity or basic sanitation services, that the demand for a living wage of R12500 was made. Ramaphosa  had the power as an executive to make decisions which could have vastly improved the lives of the miners, but he chose not to.

Instead, when the interests of White monopoly capital were threatened and workers were forced to go on an illegal strike, because their trade union of choice, the National Union of Mineworkers (which he helped establish), had abandoned them, instead of using his skills as a negotiator in the union, he called for and colluded with the minister of police to end the strike, by any means necessary. During the Farlam Commission hearings it was found that the state planned for the massacre by ordering several mortuary vans in advance, therefore any claims by officials that the killings were unintentional are hollow.

2. The National Minimum Wage is further evidence that Ramaphosa is lying when he claims that he cares about workers. He has been spearheading a campaign, on behalf of big business to legalize R20 per hour as a minimum wage so that workers in South Africa can be exploited far more than they are already. There can be no radical economic transformation when workers are earning less than R3500 per month, and yet that is precisely what Ramaphosa is advocating for.

We live in a country of extreme inequality, rampant poverty, and an unemployment rate of at least 25%. The miners of Marikana were shot and killed, for daring to demand a living wage of R12500 as a living wage, and the deputy president responds by implementing a minimum wage which will have no impact on alleviating poverty and inequality.

3. Ramaphosa, and the ANC which he leads have spent the last 23 years defending and protecting White monopoly Capital, and they will continue to do so. On the one hand Ramaphosa claims that radical economic transformation is an imperative, but at the same time, he keeps celebrating the NDP (National Development Plan) as the vehicle through which this transformation will be achieved. The NDP, and its predecessor GEAR are neo-liberal economic policies which have been harmful to workers and their families for the last 23 years.

The ANC as the governing party, has refused to use its majority in parliament to implement policies of nationalization which would radically transform the lives of the African majority immediately. They have refused to nationalize the land; the banks as well as the commanding heights of the economy. Instead they continue to pursue neo liberal capitalist economic policies which are responsible for the suffering of workers and their families.

The ANC is fighting to ensure that this oppressive economic system which is characterized by low pay, and poor working conditions continues, because they want to please ratings agencies and foreign investors – they don’t care about African majority which elected them into power.

4. Ramaphosa and the ANC have launched a shameless attack on the working class. The Deputy President is driving legislation to limit the right to strike. This former trade unionist is fighting to undo all the work that workers in South Africa fought and died for under Apartheid.

Whilst the lives of millions of South Africans haven’t changed much since the days of Apartheid, Ramaphosa has undergone a personal radical economic transformation of epic proportions. He has gone from trade union leader, to big business billionaire and union basher. That is his legacy, 23 years after the end of Apartheid.

He is promoting the kind of radical economic transformation which empowers a small elite at the expense of the African working class majority.
As NUMSA we cannot take the utterances of the Deputy President seriously.   Ramaphosa and the ANC that he leads do not have any solutions for the working class. For the last 23 years the ANC has bent over backwards in an attempt to please big business, for example, by commercializing the roads through e-tolls and allowing labour brokers to flourish.

They even went as far as implementing a Youth Wage subsidy, where they basically pay employers for hiring young people and exploiting them with poor wages! It was the ANC’s senseless pursuit of rampant capitalism which eventually forced NUMSA to reject President Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

When we criticize Ramaphosa, we are not narrow in our analysis. We cannot support anyone from the ANC because we know that the ANC does not have any solutions for the challenges facing the poor and the working class of South Africa. It is bizarre therefore, that given extensive evidence to the latter, that any credible labour or leftist movement would still remain in the alliance when the governing party, has done nothing but show workers the middle finger!

NUMSA does not suffer from this kind of ideological confusion. We are proud of our reputation in the labour movement as a truly militant, worker driven formation. After 30 years in the battle for workers, we remain the largest worker led formation in the country and our revolutionary principles back this up.

Issued by Irvin Jim
NUMSA General Secretary
For interviews:
Phakamile Hlubi
Acting National Spokesperson
083 376 7725