For five years since the “Marikana Massacre,” the South African government has behaved like the apartheid regime after the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960.
Instead of dealing with the consequences of the massacre and finding a way of reconciling with the families of the deceased, the government has no idea of what do to appease those who lost ones and find peace with them. It has stuck its head in the sand. The annual commemoration of the Marikana massacre on 16 August 2012 is continuing to haunt the ANC government.
Yesterday, the commemoration of the massacre was dominated by AMCU, with the likes of Julius Malema, Bantu Holomisa and Mmusi Maimane exploiting the tragic event, that saw the death of 44 workers, for political purpose. The ANC government, with its inaction, has allowed the day to be used by Amcu and the opposition as a mobilizing point to hammer the Jacob Zuma government. By the way, it was the police, commanded by the Zuma generals, led by Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa that fired on the striking workers ensconced at the koppie.
The Zuma government, the African National Congress, and their allies in Cosatu and National Union of Mineworkers, have kept an unhealthy distance between themselves and the commemoration of this tragic event that has truly robbed the new South Africa of its innocence. Who could have envisaged the people’s government firing recklessly on workers demanding a living wage? Was the ANC government not in alliance with the working class?
It appears as though the ANC and its government not only has no idea on how to deal with this shameful episode since it came to power, it has not made any effort to develop an approach to the commemoration of the Marikana Massacre. As a result, no government minister or ANC leader has ever been seen at the commemoration of this day. Even the ideological standard bearer of the working class, the SACP, has never dared to go anywhere near the koppie on 16 August. Ironically, the Democratic Alliance, EFF, UDM and Cope have made Marikana their hunting ground where they do not lose the opportunity to lambast the government. My view is that the ANC government forgets about the matter until a few weeks when the commemoration is due. Marikana and it’s aftermath is not on the agenda of the ANC government.
The irony of the situation is that since 1960, after the Sharpeville massacre, the ANC had made it a point that the memory of the brutal killing of anti-pass laws protesters by the apartheid regime would not be forgotten. Now, the ANC has its own Sharpeville and, like the National Party government, doesn’t know what to do about it. Looking at thousands of mourners at the commemoration, dressed in the green shirts of Amcu, it occurred to me that the ANC will not get these votes in 2019 as long as it fails to address this injustice.
Somehow the ANC must find a way to deal with the ghosts of Marikana while it is still in power. There must be a way in which the government must find a way of cleansing itself of the Marikana blood and apologies to the families and other casualties of that bloody deed. Sharpeville was used by the liberation movement to haunt the apartheid regime for its sins for more than three decades until it was turned into Human Rights day after the birth of a democratic South Africa. Marikana will be used as a weapon against the ANC for as long as it remains in power.
It is time the party of Luthuli, Tambo and Mandela faced its demons.