Zuma’s long road to Serfdom

THE ZUMA administration is the subject of a number of public embarrassments. All involve, maladministration, graft and the failure to abide by the rule of law. The latest comes with the release of a report into the 2012 Marikana massacre which led to the deaths of approximately 44 people, and more than 70 persons being injured.

The Farlam Commission appointed by president Zuma, predictably, whitewashes the administration’s involvement in the events which lead up to the massacre. Deputy-President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who was non-executive director of Lonmin, a significant shareholder in the company (through its shareholding structures), and a senior member of the ANC at the time, has been given a clean bill of health, so too the political structure and chain of command which lead directly to the massacre.

The release of the report comes days after scandals involving the failure to arrest Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir wanted by the International Criminal Court and international community for the Darfur Genocide, and just weeks after a FIFA bribery scandal involving Danny Jordaan and under-the-counter payments made in exchange for votes.

Only a month earlier, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was telling the public that additions to the Zuma compound at Nkandla such as a swimming pool and amphitheatre, were all vital “security features”, for which the president “is therefore not liable to pay”.

The embarrassments are leading ordinary South Africans to ask whether it is perhaps time for Zuma to go?

South Africa under Msholozi, the clan name under which Zuma is also known, has seen a bloated cabinet, one of the biggest in the world, with a concomitant increase in departmental complexity,  government red-tape and an out of control civil service, as the modus operandi of the country has moved from industrial output, to the aegis of big government, a nation which produces politicians instead of productivity.

Anyone following the debate over Eskom’s tariff increases, could be forgiven for thinking that South Africans exist to fund the energy parastatal and its emphasis on Soviet-style gigantism — two large fossil fuel projects and a failed R10 billion Pebble-bed Modular Reactor programme, and now the threat of a BRICS-lead trillion rand nuclear build, for which the country undoubtedly, has insufficient foreign reserves to foot the bill, when and if it arrives.

Eskom, despite having a monopoly mandate, increasingly finds itself unable to provide electricity. The simple logic of the market has proven to be an Achilles heel. The increase in the civil service has not countered the loss of jobs in the private sector.

That the economic master-plan of the ruling party, known as the National Development Plan, along with its  shibboleth of central planning and anti-privatisation rhetoric, is beginning to unravel, can be seen in the failure of other parastatals to deliver. In short, Telkom sucks, as does SAA which exists on annual bail-outs. (There are some 120 such quasi-government entities)

20 years after the constituent assembly drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ushering in a universal franchise and human rights, the country is paying lip-service to its contents, institutions such as the public protector are ignored. Likewise, the judiciary.

Under Zuma, a narrow ethnic nationalism has found itself at odds with the secular values established under previous governments. The president has cemented power, rolling out salary increases for “headmen” (what no women?) under a new dispensation which favours tribal authority at the expense of citizenship and the rights of the individual.

Thus the road to serfdom, instead of the great society of Nelson Mandela.

Marikana Concourt Judgement: An Insult to workers

The judgement took just five minutes. The Constitutional Court dismissed a request by 270 injured and arrested mineworkers from Marikana’s Lonmin mine for leave to appeal for funding from the state for their legal representation at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry. The mineworkers were not even given an opportunity to state their case. Instead the court chose to duck the issue and based its judgment on a technicality. The Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, ruled that it was not competent to deal with a matter being handled by a lower court.

This was a lost opportunity for the Constitutional Court to level the playing field and to affirm the new human rights culture that this society is committed to building after the brutality of apartheid. It was also an insult to the workers who died, and all other victims of police brutality and state repression in the history of South Africa. The reality is, each day that the commission sits, these mineworkers face a David and Goliath battle against a state, a police force and Lonmin, all of whom possess formidable funds to employ an army of top lawyers and researchers.

The spirit of callousness against the miners who were attacked by police on the 16th August doesn’t stop with the withholding of state funds to meet their legal representation. The North West ANC failed to attend the highly successful commemoration rally in Marikana last Friday (16th August). This was an opportunity to show their respect to the families of all those who had died and the injured and arrested survivors of the Marikana massacre. Their refusal to participate was shocking even to the national ANC, who condemned their action in a press statement the following day. The commemoration was planned as a day of unity and healing and a call to continue the fight for a living wage. Many political parties shared a platform to give messages of support to the miners and their families. The NUM was invited to share this platform. They also refused to attend, despite the fact that at the time of the massacre, many who lost their lives were in fact NUM members.

A year on from the massacre, there has been no justice, no move by mining companies to address the issue of a living wage and now to add insult to injury, miners at Anglo Platinum mines face the company’s decision to go ahead with the retrenchment of around 7000 jobs. Many from Anglo Platinum, as did those from Implats, joined their comrades from Lonmin at the commemoration on the 16th August. It is no wonder that workers across the platinum sector are beginning to speak in one voice in combining the demand for a living wage with those of justice against state brutality and in defence of jobs.

The pursuit of legal and peaceful channels by the miners in their quest for justice for those who were arrested, injured and killed has been a futile exercise. The workers clearly cannot expect justice or truth from the courts of the land and even less from the Farlam Commission where the odds are stacked against them. The only option left open is to boycott the commission and to take collective protest action to demand that the government pay the legal fees of the miners’ representatives. This demand should now be merged with the continued fight for a living wage and for defence of jobs at Anglo Platinum and taken up across the platinum belt.

Marikana Commission linked to Apartheid Special Forces?

No, this isn’t a joke. The Old South African flag appears to have made a come-back in the choice of colours used for the Marikana “Farlam” Commission. The logical consequence of allowing previous commissions of inquiry to simply rubber-stamp government policy? Does anybody remember the so-called Truth Commission? The lies are now self-evident.

Constitutional think-tank statement on the impact of Marikana.

Media Statement by the Advisory Council of CASAC on the impact of Marikana on South Africa’s constitutional order

We believe that Marikana represents a turning point in South Africa’s post-apartheid history. The  question is: in what direction will we now go?

The serious violations of fundamental constitutional rights that the Farlam Commission must investigate with regard to Marikana are, in fact, a common reality for far too many people who live in South Africa.

The credibility and legitimacy of the police is in tatters. The needless death of Andries Tatane last year was a grave warning of the dangers of the militarisation of the police force and the inadequacy of its public order management capacity.

Zones of illegality, painfully reminiscent of our repressive past, blot the landscape.

As a result, civil liberties are now imperiled, as the apparent collapse of the intelligence services and the partisan political use of state security forces render the country vulnerable to destabilization undermining our future prospects and prosperity, and which, more than anything, hurts the poorest members of our society the hardest.

The state of emergency, in deed if not in law, that has been in existence in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre demonstrates the duplicitous role of the government and its security forces. A repressive clampdown with the rule of law seemingly suspended has engulfed the communities grappling with the trauma and grief of the massacre.

The basis on which the police conducted search and seizure operations in the early hours of Saturday 15 September remains unclear; on the same day rubber bullets were again used resulting in the death of ANC Councillor, Pauline Masulo; marches organised by the Women of Marikana have been banned; individuals have been prevented from addressing meetings of workers for no apparent good legal reason; and there have been numerous arrests of workers in other platinum mines in recent weeks ñ these are all occurrences associated with the repressive apartheid regime in the 1980s.
Now is the time to draw a line in the sand and to demand a renewed commitment to the Constitution, its progressive vision of socio-economic transformation, and its principled commitment to the rule of law.

We submit that Marikana cannot be examined in isolation of the socio-economic and political context in which it occurred ñ a context in which a dangerous culture of intolerance and political violence has persisted, and in which the ability to process peaceful dialogue and to mediate industrial relations has been lost.

The system of collective bargaining established by the 1995 Labour Relations Act has also been dangerously undermined.

Rightly, the Commissionís Terms of Reference require it to consider corporate responsibility. The imperative of creating new decent jobs, with a living wage, has to be a shared social obligation.

Thus must we all reflect candidly on the causes of this crisis, recognising its various components, which include: structural weaknesses in State institutions that have permitted a culture of impunity in the use of State power to grow; acute failure of leadership in both government and in the ANC; deep rifts in and between trade unions; unacceptable levels of wage inequality; the root causes of chronic poverty and long-term unemployment.

While recognizing and affirming the right of all workers to embark on industrial action, to associate freely and enjoy the right to freedom of expression, a society established on the basis of
constitutional norms cannot countenance the persistent violence and sense of lawlessness that characterises many public gatherings, strikes and protests. We appeal to all people to exercise the right of assembly without bearing arms and weapons of any kind, and to desist from engaging in acts of violence and intimidation.

We must also acknowledge the fact that the ANC’s looming national elective congress is contributing  to the heightened levels of intolerance and conflict as factions within the ANC jostle for power.

There is a conservative trajectory within elements in the ruling party that betrays the noble  objectives of the liberation struggle, and which threatens the idea of progressive constitutionalism that was at the heart of the post-1994 social compact. The ANC’s Mangaung Conference will likely  determine whether that trajectory is hastened or rejected.

In short, progressive politics are under threat. Progressive organisations and movements must inject new energy and commitment into their efforts to protect our constitutional order, and must commit to work together to pursue rights and secure human dignity.

As the Farlam Commission begins its work in earnest, it must mark the start not only of an open process of unrelenting, unconditional search for the truth about what happened on 16 August, and why, but also a new chapter in our collective resolve to build a society that reflects the vision of our Constitution.

It is an opportunity that must be grasped. The government must do everything possible to ensure that the Commission can do its work, with full access to all relevant information, as well as to all role-players and decision-makers within both the police and the wider security establishment. Any suggestion that evidence is being suppressed or bad decision-making covered up will do untold harm not just to the search for accountability and justice, but to the families of the victims of Marikana.

Their needs and concerns must be the central concern during this time. CASAC calls on the Commission to put the families at the forefront of the Commission and to ensure that they have
appropriate support, whether in the form of provision of transport and accommodation so that they might attend the hearings, or in the form of ensuring effective legal representation, and extending to offering counselling for the tragedy they have suffered.

The barbarity and violence of 16 August must be replaced by civility and a newfound respect for human life.

Khulumani – 25 years on, little has changed

Khulumani has requested the urgent intervention of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

On 2 September 2012, Khulumani Support Group, the national membership organisation of some 80,000 survivors of gross violations of human rights associated with apartheid political violence, submitted an urgent appeal to the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Professor Christof Heyns, to conduct an independent assessment of whether some of the killings of the Marikana mineworkers on 16 August 2012 could be viewed as meeting the criteria for extrajudicial killings. The decision to lodge this urgent appeal followed the emergence of evidence suggesting that some of the miners from the Lonmin Platinum Mine who lost their lives at Marikana in North West Province, appear to have been shot at close range in an area known as ‘Small Koppies’, while trying to escape from police shootings.

Khulumani calls for justice for the Lonmin mine workers and their families – as well as for the 1987 Sasol workers.

Prof Njabulu Ndebele

For Khulumani, the resonances of the Marikana massacre with experiences of some of their members are particularly strong. Some 2,400 former Sasol workers who are now Khulumani members, were dismissed en masse after their participation in a strike that commenced on 1 October 1987 in Sasolburg. This followed a worker ballot the previous day that supported taking strike action. Despite their best and continuing efforts, justice has continued to evade these Sasol ex-workers to the present. Because of their own bitter experiences, the Sasol ex-workers expressed concern that the Lonmin mineworkers should not similarly find themselves still battling for justice twenty-five years after the shameful Marikana Massacre of August 2012. This would be 2037 – seven years after the target date for the would-be realisation of South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030.

Post-1994 legislation has failed to transform apartheid repressive legislation

In 1987 Sasol One was identified as a National Key Point under 1980 legislation that sought to prevent “loss, damage, disruption or immobilization (that) may prejudice the Republic” at any site of vital concern to the then government. Sasol One was particularly strategic to the South African Apartheid government as it produced oil from coal at the time of a universal embargo by the United Nations on the sale of oil to South Africa. The purpose of the 1980 Act was to protect places and areas deemed to be of strategic national interest against sabotage or other forms of attack. Organising worker protest action for better wages in such an environment required particular courage. This was the courage of the 2,400 workers who made a stand in 1987.

Marikana near Rustenburg was the site of a similar stand for better wages and safer working conditions in the Lonmin platinum mine in August 2012. Although the Lonmin mine has not been declared a National Key Point in terms of the 2007 National Key Points, Places of Importance and Strategic Installations Act, almost exactly the same tactics have been applied at Marikana as were meted out to the Sasol strikers of 1987. Platinum is clearly important for South Africa’s mineral-dependent economy.

Using police to break up strikes

In 1987, the Sasol strike was violently broken when Sasol’s Management called for the assistance of the ‘riot police.’ As strikers gathered as planned on the morning of 1 October, 1987, at the Boiketlong Community Hall in Zamdela where they expected to meet Sasol’s Management for wage negotiations, they were brutally dispersed by riot police and all 2,400 were summarily dismissed. The ex-workers tell of some 77 individuals dying as a result of police action along with vigilante action that tended to accompany strikes. Some died as a result of deterioration in their health resulting from injuries and other associated illnesses. Sasol has accepted no responsibility, claiming that the deaths and injuries were the result of police action, not company action. A similar situation is likely to transpire at Marikana, despite the protections offered to workers by the country’s Constitution which protects the right to strike in Section 23(1)(c) with Section 17 protecting the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present a petition. How is it possible that these rights of the Lonmin mine workers were not adequately protected?

Securing justice for strikers and for communities around mines

The Sasol ex-workers have not bee paid out their accrued benefits over the past 25 years, despite the company presenting itself as compliant with human rights norms and standards. Presently, the Department of Labour in Sasolburg is working to assist ex-workers to access their certificates of service to facilitate their applications for the pay-out of their benefits from 25 years ago. Amongst the ex-workers are 22 who served more than 30 years with Sasol, 40 with service records between 26 and 30 years, 12 with service records between 21 and 25 years, 150 with service records between 16 and 20 years, 270 with service records between 11 and 15 years, 175 with service records between 6 and 10 years and the remainder with service records of between 1 and 5 years

Despite Sasol’s claims that it works to improve the quality of life in the communities in which it operates, Sasol has to date made no provisions for its ex-workers to benefit from the roughly R80 million it claims to invest each year in community activities and initiatives such as support to ‘education; health and welfare; environment; job creation/capacity building; and arts, culture and sports development’. Sasol failed to approve the application of its ex-workers for Sasol’s Inzalo shareholding scheme and has failed to respond to the Sasol ex-workers’ proposals to date.

Working for an inclusive economy that respects and protects workers

Given their own bitter experience, Sasol’s ex-workers are concerned that the families of deceased Lonmin mine workers should not become forgotten casualties of the Lonmin August 2012 industrial action. Khulumani views the Marikana Massacre of 34 Lonmin mine workers as a watershed event in which workers who were trying to assert their rights in the Constitution, were violently suppressed. Khulumani demands that:

each of the families of the dead and injured Lonmin mine workers is identified and provided for given the loss of their critical breadwinners;
benefits due to the families of the deceased Lonmin mine workers are paid out without delay;
initiatives to improve the quality of life of residents of the communities surrounding Lonmin’s mines are identified and supported financially;
employee share ownership benefit schemes are put in place urgently at Lonmin and at Sasol to provide for both worker and ex-worker participation;
Sasol ex-workers receive pay-outs of their accrued benefits along with 25 years of interest;
Sasol ex-workers’ application for Inzalo shares be re-viewed; and
apartheid-derived or apartheid-informed legislation is removed from South Africa’s statute books.

Professor Njabulo Ndebele warns us that “the tragedy at Marikana reflects the loss of the vision of liberation and the onset of repression”. It reveals in the words of Fanon scholar Nigel Gibson, the failure of post-apartheid South Africa to transform nationalism into a programme of social and economic transformation that puts people’s needs first. Instead we note that “the state, having inherited all apartheid’s apparatuses, is becoming increasing sophisticated and authoritarian against opponents, real or imagined”.

The challenge of turning back and reclaiming the vision of liberation, is a responsibility we all share. We dare not fail those who struggled so hard and who suffered so much for that vision, amongst them the thousands of Khulumani members. We will not give the struggle away.

Issued by Khulumani Support Group

For information, please contact:

Dr Marjorie Jobson, National Director on 082 268 0223 or
Ms Nomarussia Bonase, National Capacity-Building Facilitator on 082 751 9903.