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South Africa Post 16th August Mine Massacre ... Quo Vadis?




A real danger of fascism in SA

Posted on September 6, 2012 9

1 Vote

Last year Rhodes University academic Jane Duncan warned of “proto fascism” emerging in South Africa. At the same time, in an article for a local publication, I wrote that “the first loud, trumpet calls to fascism in modern South Africa have been sounded”. Both of us were referring to the actions and statements by, and the apparent financial backing for, the then president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema.
Last week at the twenty-fourth Socialist International (SI) congress in Cape Town, a similar warning about the threat of fascism was issued. However, this referred to a global danger. And this week, as the local mining industry faced turmoil, National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson, Lesiba Seshoka, also raised the spectre of fascism.
If such warnings are considered melodramatic, it can only be because fascism is a little understood, ill-defined term that tends to send shivers of apprehension through most minds. It does so because of its association with, particularly, Nazi Germany and gas chambers. But Hitler’s Germany was a particularly horrendous outgrowth of fascism; an extreme version of the ideology in practice.
Authoritarian and intolerant of democratic norms, fascism does not need to indulge in genocide to exist: the destruction of democratic structures, with mass obedience and acquiescence ensured by prison terms, intimidation and enforced exile is enough. Invariably, at the apex of what is a political pyramid, is the Leader.
This ideology exists as a form of political virus in every society marked by inequality and exploitation. In times of economic growth, stability and general feelings of hope for the future, it is relatively dormant, often to the extent that it is barely noticed, a minor pimple on the backside of the body politic.
At the core of fascist thinking are concepts of nationalism and ethnicity, of the notion of a single, defined, “national” group needing to be led to be led out of suffering caused by external or corrupt forces. It is an idea that ignores the realities of rich and poor, of oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited existing within the same, nationally or ethnically defined groups. As such fascists are hostile to organisations such as trade unions that, for all their faults, usually uphold collective and egalitarian principles.
But authoritarian thinking and its political extension of fascism, can come into their own at times of crisis and when the existing political order — especially of the liberal, parliamentary variety — is seen widely to be failing and the traditional Left seems ideologically bankrupt and compromised. It is at such times that the wage and welfare gap and growing unemployment become more highly politicised.
The labour movement, internationally, has recognised for several years that such times are very much with us; times when demagogues emerge to prey on the insecurities, anger and fears of vulnerable workers in a way that often catapults would-be leaders to prominence.
This theme of a world in ongoing and politically dangerous crisis dominated the SI congress that came and went in Cape Town last week with scarcely a whimper, let alone a bang. And with no South African trade unionists in sight.
However, the more than 100 political parties and groups from around the world confirmed everything the labour movement has been saying for years about the global economy. Ironically, the voice of labour has also often been in opposition to many parties that are members of this extraordinarily diverse body that professes the democratic principles and “socialism” espoused by most trade unions.
If the ANC, the host member of the SI, is a broad church, the SI qualifies as a veritable Tower of ideological Babel. But, in most cases, the representative parties and groups owe — or at least once owed — their origins or support to organised workers.
This means that even parties in opposition to one another on a national level can be members. In Mauritius, for example, the governing Labour Party is a member alongside the opposition Mauritian Militant Movement. And in Mali, an umbrella movement — Adema-PASJ — that brings together four political parties, has a seat at the SI table.
Former East European communist parties that have altered their outlooks, although not necessarily many of their leaders, also now march under the SI banner. Yet there seems to be unanimous — in some cases, perhaps belated — agreement among all SI members that the global economic crisis has far from run its course; that much turbulence still lies ahead.
With this conclusion comes the analysis that trickle-down, neo-liberal, Washington consensus policies have failed. To which the labour movement can chorus: we told you so. Except that it and the political Left have done little to fill the vaccuum created, leaving the way open to the demagogic Right that, in South Africa, has a distinctly local flavour.
According to striking miners at Gold Fields, for example, they have been assured at meetings that “the Chinese are just waiting to come in” should their strikes cause mine closures. The assumption is that Chinese investors will happily meet all the demands of labour.
However, if those workers who have been told to look east for economic salvation could consult their comrades in Zambia, they might have a different view: there has been a less than happy relationship there on many Chinese-owned mines. Or they could attend the screening of China Blue, a much-hailed 2005 documentary that is one of the “best of the decade” films to be screened at the Tri Continental human rights Film Festival that opens in Johannesburg today (subs: Friday) and in Cape Town next week.
China Blue is perhaps unique in that it was shot over a year. It follows the progress of a young rural teenager working in what was regarded as one of the better garment factories in that country.
Like the SI and the unions, it provides no answers, but reveals clearly why South African workers cannot compete with their Chinese counterparts — and why they should not wish to do so.


Responses “A real danger of fascism in SA” →

September 6, 2012

Dear Terry,

Thanks again for a timely article.
Yes, I agree – there is much fuzzy thinking and rather inappropriate comparisons made with “classical” European fascism (the corporate State of Benito Mussolini, and the Nazi Party of Adolf Hitler) and any Third World variant of the Strong Corporatist State et al.
I was re-watching an educational dvd from the International Institute for Research & Education ( on: “Ernest Mandel: A Life for the revolution” a documentary by Chris Den Hond, 90 mins. and in an interview Mandel, an world -renound political economist and political activist, has this to say:
“The REAL function of fascism was to revive the rate of profit after the depression of 1929-32, to smash the workers´organisations (Social-Democratic and Communist) physically in the streets and neighbourhods, and to re-militarize the economy” (that the Keynesian public sector spending and public consumption alternatives – the New Deal etc – were not combatting unemployment which remained high until the re-armament of 1939 i.e. Mandel says that the “share of wages (in the National Income) between the period of 1922 and 1939 was almost constant, while the share of profits increased by 300% ” (NOT 30%).
O.K. Fast forwards to 2012 – after 2008 and the crisis of the banking-subprime/housing-loan-scam that started in Wall Street and soon enveloped the global economy, the Western/Eastern capitalist economies have stagnated and “crisis” is written large at their door-steps!
And what is the “solution”?
Take a look at any business paper and you will see the “Bosses Solution”!
But on the “International Left”?
“We are monitoring the situation … ” say the comrades …..

Terry Bell
September 7, 2012
You are right. Sadly, the Left still seems relatively moribund, the albatross of Stalinism still hanging about many necks. Illusions in the state persist, with the conflation of state ownership with socialism still widespread. Yet now, courtesy of th ver technology that has cost millions of jobs, we have the communications facility to enable the development of real, grassroots democracy. But it will require education and organisation before there can be any hope of successful agitation.

September 6, 2012
I agree with your general sentiments. Please read recent copies of ‘Apdusa Views’ on the subject of fascism. Trotskys works on the subject are essential to understanding this phenomenon. In SA we are also dealing with ardent Stalinists to make matters worse. A dangerous cocktail!

Terry Bell
September 7, 2012
A dangerous cocktail indeed. But it may, at last, be losing its potency.







* We have started to set up solidarity committees at every school and every workplace.


* We are collecting food and medicine for the families of the massacred and for the strikers.


* We are with the mineworkers and their families, unconditionally. If the mineworkers win, we all win.


* The future generations will rightly ask: When the state started killing en masse, the poor, what did you do?


* We know which side of the fence we are on.


* Do you?


* Volunteers for the campaign can contact us at:



ph 021 4472727


Cape Town Marikana Solidarity Committee
Community House
41 Salt River rd
Salt River, 7925



See: fb - Justice Now for Marikana Strikers @


The mine bosses have long ago promised to dismantle the migrant labour system and provide family accommodation for miners

Justice Now for Marikana Strikers

Who is killing who on the mines?


Sections of the have published a report as if striking workers have threatened to kill the bosses of Lonmin.


Is the timing of this report linked to the mobilisation for the national day of action of 8 September in support of the Marikana...




."There was a time when Jacob Zuma got by with dodging serious issues and refusing to stand accountable. But the country is now lurching from one crisis to another, and South Africa needs a president who can show real leadership. Zuma had the chance to do in Parliament on Thursday; possibly the only thing of significance he said in two hours was a hint that the state could soon act against Julius Malema. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY...."

. Marikana: Govt will no longer tolerate violence and intimidation
. Government
. 14 September 2012
. Illegal gatherings, carrying of dangerous weapons and incitement will be dealt with accordingly
. Statement by Government on the situation in the mining sector
. 14 Sep 2012
. Government has noted and is concerned with the amount of violence, threats and intimidation that is currently taking place in our country, particularly in the mining sector. The Ministers responsible for the security of the country have met and reflected on the situation that is prevailing in the country currently. These acts of violence and intimidation clearly undermine government efforts of ensuring economic and security stability.
. Government recognises that if the current situation continues unabated it will make it even harder to overcome our challenges of slow economic growth, high unemployment, poverty and inequality.
. Government will not tolerate these acts any further. Government has put measures in place to ensure that the current situation is brought under control. These measures include the following;
. * Illegal gatherings, carrying of dangers weapons, incitement, as well as threats of violence against anyone in the affected areas will be dealt with accordingly.
. * Law enforcement agencies will not hesitate to arrest those who are found to have contravened legislations governing these acts.
. * Commission of all these offences is in clear violation of the Regulations of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 and the Dangerous Weapons Act 71 of 1968.
. Government is making a clarion call to all South Africans to desist from these illegal acts and work with the law enforcement agencies to ensure that the situation is brought to normality.
. Statement issued by Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), September 14 2012,
. @ - Marikana: Govt will no longer tolerate violence and intimidation



Radebe: Mines will settle down - or else





In an unprecedented show of force, state ministers, police and the military have vowed to crack down on "illegal" and violent gatherings...


@ Reporter's Marikana Notebook: The government's clenched fist



Reporter's Marikana Notebook: The government's clenched fist some weeks of silence, we’ve finally heard back from the government. First Jacob Zuma spoke in Parliament, and then the ministers in the security cluster met and released a statement. And yes, a fist was extended to the striking miners. No olive branch in sight.


. WATCH MY LIPS: "This is not a state of emergency..... (yet!)
. A racist and intolerant country cannot call itself civilised
. 14 SEP 2012
. ...See More
. ----------------------------------------
. South Africa: 'The SACP has become a vanguard of ANC power factionalism'
. By Dale T. McKinley
. September 10, 2012 -- South African Civil Society Information Service -- If ever we needed to be reminded of Milan Kundera’s famous axiom that, "the struggle … against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting", then it is in respect of the post-apartheid history of the South African Communist Party (SACP).
. Why?
. Because it is a history that shows us, in so many different ways, how and why the SACP has gradually but systematically become a vanguard of African National Congress (ANC) factionalist politics as opposed to its self-proclaimed role as an independent, progressive force representing and leading the "national democratic, anti-capitalist struggle" of the working class.
. Have we forgotten how after Chris Hani’s assassination in 1993, much of the SACP leadership rushed to embrace the very politics and perks of new governmental power that Hani had so clearly warned against and then vigorously helped implement the anti-working class policies that the SACP purported to oppose?
. Or the SACP’s 1998 congress, when the newly elected leadership (which included the still incumbent Blade Nzimande as general secretary and Jeremy Cronin as deputy general secretary) cut insider deals with ANC leaders that killed off any stated desire that the majority of the SACP membership had for a clear political and organisational independence from the ANC?
. Have we forgotten how over the last decade or so, the SACP has gotten rid of and/or marginalised all of its critically minded intellectuals and leader-activists who dared stand up for a working-class politics independent of the ANC’s deracialised capitalism and speak out against the increasing centralisation of power by the party’s national leadership as well as the budding cult of personality around its general secretary?
. And, how this "radical and progressive" party whose constitutional "guiding principles" include combating "tribalism, sex discrimination, regionalism, chauvinism and all forms of narrow nationalism" gave its full political and organisational backing to and then joyously celebrated (as a "victory for the working class and all progressive forces") the rise to power of an ANC leader – Jacob Zuma – who has consistently embraced homophobic, misogynist, chauvinistic national-regional, ethnically oriented and anti-worker ideas and practices?
. Have we forgotten how a few years back, in direct violation of the party’s own constitution, which stated that the general secretary must be a full-time employee of the SACP, Nzimande accepted his appointment as am inister in Zuma’s cabinet and then, over time, managed to out-manoeuvre any opposition such that the SACP’s constitution was changed accordingly at the recently held 13th national congress?
. And how, no sooner had Nzimande settled into his ministerial position with a salary package in excess of R2 million per annum (now also enjoyed by the six other SACP leaders who occupy ministerial positions) than he authorised the use of over R1 million of public money to purchase a luxury vehicle for himself while simultaneously berating others in the ANC, in the corporate sector and South African society as a whole for being “out of touch with the workers and poor” and engaging in "excessive, conspicuous consumption"?
. Have we forgotten the increasingly close organisational, ideological and "business" ties that the SACP has developed over the last several years with the Communist Party of China, a party which provides "world class" examples of political authoritarianism, corrupt bureaucratism and commandist capitalism masquerading as socialism, while the SACP simultaneously preaches about anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, freedom of expression and the contemporary building of socialism in South Africa?
. Or, how the SACP always has a lot to say about "tenderpreneurs" [those who get rich through links with government] and the need for accountability and transparency of public representatives/institutions as well as non-governmental organisations but consistently refuses to entertain any discussion of the extent to which its own members -- who are ANC politicians and government officials -- are caught up in corruption and mismanagement or to divulge the party’s own sources of funding and support, domestic and foreign?
. Have we forgotten how earlier this year the SACP launched a scathing public attack on the 'independence, impartiality and dignity" of the Public Protector for (horror of all horrors) attending a Women’s Day event organised by an opposition political party while it has remained completely silent in the face of countless examples of institutions and officials unabashedtoenadering with and political support of, the ANC and more specifically with the Zuma faction?
. And, what about the SACP’s labelling of all those opposing the Zuma-securocrat backed Protection of State Information Bill (aka the "Secrecy Bill") as "anti-majoritarian liberals' controlled by "foreigners" in a domestic and global context in which the anti-whistleblower and securitised cover-up measures contained in the Secrecy Bill flow from the very (foreign-based) elitist, neoliberal and imperialist sources that the SACP purports to oppose in the name of the working class?
. Have we forgotten that in its 2012 May Day message, the SACP (as it has for years on end now) called for a "focus on the organisation of vulnerable workers" as part of "strengthening" trade unions "in the workplace" and yet when it finally came out with more than a cursory public response to the August 16, 2012, Marikana massacre, it was predominately aimed at delegitimising those union and community "actors" (not associated with the ANC-led Alliance and/or government) who had actually organised and assisted vulnerable workers?
. And, if that wasn’t hypocritical enough in the context of the factional, blame-pointing, post-massacre environment, then how about the SACP’s parallel call for "a united and effective trade union movement linked to local progressive civic structures"?
Have we forgotten that even though the SACP bases its entire political program on "leading a defence of the national democratic revolution" through "being at the centre of state power" and thus providing the best possible means for "advancing the interests of the poor and working class", the practical results of its more recent co-governance of the state with Zuma’s ANC faction has seen worsening inequality, intensified social conflict, seriously compromised public educational and health systems, a militarised police service and a crisis-ridden local government?
Or what of the oceanic gap between the SACP’s professed embrace and pursuit of "unity" among the "forces of liberation" (read: the ANC-SACP-COSATU Tri-partite Alliance) and the ever-widening reality of utter disunity and open factional conflict, increasingly waged with the weapons of state power, patronage and positionality, all of which the SACP "possesses" more of than ever before?
While Blade Nzimande, Jeremy Cronin and the rest of the SACP will no doubt be apoplectic at this exercise in memory "recovery" they would do well not to forget one thing in particular: that those with/in power in our contemporary capitalist-dominated world, no matter how long their history of struggle or how politically and organisationally mature they think they are, can never hope to speak for and represent the poor and working class, let alone lead an anti-capitalist revolution, as long as that power continues to reside predominately with a self-proclaimed vanguard and not with the majority to whom it belongs.
. [Dale McKinley is an South African writer, researcher, lecturer and political activist.]
. Fri, 09/14/2012 - 12:36 — Weekly Worker (not verified)

. Morning Star's uncritical support for ANC on Marikana killings

. From Weekly Worker September 13 2012


. Police slaughter and apologetics: The Morning Star has come unstuck with its uncritical support for the ANC, writes Peter Manson

. The police massacre of 34 striking miners in South Africa on August 16 has left the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain highly embarrassed at having to defend the appalling apologetics of its South African Communist Party ally.
. Let us be clear: what happened in Marikana was cold-blooded murder. Police penned in, tear-gassed and then gunned down workers who had gathered for ongoing protests - as they were attempting to flee. It seems indisputable that many were shot in the back. Sporadic shooting continued for half an hour, as police on horseback or in helicopters hunted down individuals desperately trying to get away. At least a dozen were picked off in this way, some as they were trying to surrender.
. Survivors tell of being hunted down by officers yelling, “Ja, you cop killers, you cop killers. You are in the shit. We are going to kill you here.”1 The police were seeking vengeance for the deaths of two of their colleagues, who were among the 10 people killed in violent incidents over the previous few weeks. The South African Broadcasting Company (SABC) televised an interview with a police spokesperson the day before the massacre, who stated categorically that the “illegal protests” would be ended the next day. She did not elaborate on how that would happen, but made it very clear that ruthless measures were to be undertaken.
. The strikers were, of course, members or supporters of a newly formed breakaway from one of the country’s most important trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers. Those who flocked to join the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) were evidently dissatisfied by the apparent inability of the NUM to win a substantial rise in their poverty wages and improvements in their working conditions. The NUM, led by SACP members, is a key affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which, along with the SACP itself, forms the tripartite alliance in support of the ruling African National Congress.
. There is footage readily available - not least the news coverage provided by Al Jazeera - showing the moment the police opened fire. Contrary to official reports, the strikers were not attacking the police, but attempting to escape. The footage shows the workers moving from right to left, in a direction that is at right angles to police lines. However, the version shown by the SABC - and, incidentally, both the BBC and ITV too - omitted the first few seconds of the footage that includes the workers in the background, showing only the police opening fire and being ordered to stop shooting.
. The reaction of the SACP and Cosatu was abhorrent, confirming yet again that they are totally subservient to the bourgeois ANC. President Jacob Zuma expressed profound regret at the loss of life and announced the setting up of an enquiry - the standard means of ruling classes everywhere of deflecting criticism and riding out a crisis. Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said: “We will refuse to play the blame game and we will patiently await the outcomes of the judicial commission of enquiry.” The idea that we should refuse to “blame” those who murdered members of our class engaged in struggle is truly nauseating.
. For its part, the SACP leadership could not bring itself to make any statement at all for three whole days. But the SACP North West region did issue a statement the day after the massacre, headlined: “Arrest Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekile” - the two leaders of the Amcu breakaway. It began: “The SACP NW joins all South Africans in mourning and passing our deep condolences to all mineworkers killed in the platinum mines in Rustenburg as the result of anarchic, violent intimidation, murder of workers and NUM shop stewards.” It referred to “this barbaric act coordinated and deliberately organised by Amcu leader Mr Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekile, who both are former NUM members expelled because of anarchy.”
. No, you have not misread the statement. These ‘comrades’ are stating that only Amcu is culpable for the deaths (not that they want to “play the blame game”, of course) - as though Mathunjwa and Kholekile had shot dead their own members.
. After the first meeting of its new central committee on August 19, the SACP leadership eventually got round to issuing a statement “expressing condolences to all those who have lost family members and colleagues” and “our well wishes to those who have been injured, workers and police”. It too welcomed the announcement of a commission of inquiry and urged it to “consider the pattern of violence associated with the pseudo-trade union, Amcu”.
. Clearly for the SACP and Cosatu the shooting dead of 34 workers and wounding of scores of others pales into insignificance when compared to the crime of splitting from the NUM and leading workers away from SACP influence. Of course, it is very rarely correct to walk away from one union - however, rightwing, corrupt and incompetent its leaders - in order to set up a rival. The fight must be fought within existing bodies. But, at the end of the day, Amcu is a working class body, not a tool of the class enemy, as the SACP and Cosatu pretend.
. Then there is this disgraceful sentence from the central committee: “SACP members from the area confirm newspaper reports today that the armed workers who gathered on the hill were misled into believing they would be invulnerable to police bullets because they had used [the ‘herbal medicine’] intelezi …”
. These could be the words of an apartheid-era racist - it is disturbing enough that such stories can still be spread by the press, let alone by so-called workers’ leaders. No doubt some of the strikers believe in ‘tribal remedies’, but does the SACP seriously believe that they considered themselves “invulnerable to police bullets”? Why then were they trying to escape those bullets? But the SACP wants us to believe that these workers, who were indeed carrying traditional spears and sticks, left the police with no choice but to open fire in self-defence.
. One notorious SACP hack, Dominic Tweedie, went much further - no doubt to the extreme displeasure of the party leadership. He is quoted by rightwing journalist RW Johnson as saying: “This was no massacre: this was a battle. The police used their weapons in exactly the way they were supposed to. That’s what they have them for. The people they shot didn’t look like workers to me. We should be happy. The police were admirable.”2
. Tweedie has since said that he was “misquoted”, but refuses to explain how these words came to appear in a web article. My experience of him as the moderator of several SACP-influenced internet discussion lists tells me that he is more than capable of coming out with such shocking language - and the quoted words are certainly reminiscent of Tweedie’s style of written expression. Uncritical
. True to form, the reaction of the Morning Star was to uncritically adopt the line of its ‘official communist’ allies. The day after the massacre, its report was headlined: “NUM: rival union ‘may have planned’ mine violence”. It read: “National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) secretary general Frans Baleni … blamed the unrest on the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union making promises which could never be delivered and, in the process, organising an illegal action which led to the loss of lives.”3
. However, by the time it came to write an editorial on the subject three days later, the Star seemed to realise that perhaps it was stretching things a bit to place the entire blame on Amcu. In a piece titled ‘Hard questions for SA police’, editor Richard Bagley stated: “There can never be justification for a massacre of striking workers and it is essential that the committee of enquiry set up by Jacob Zuma to examine the tragic events at Marikana makes this a central conclusion.” It went on: “The South African Police Service must explain why its officers were armed with automatic weapons when an order was issued last year banning the use even of rubber bullets during public protests.”
. But then the editorial goes on to slate Amcu in terms the SACP would be proud of. It noted that the NUM “accuses one company, BHP Billiton, of initially funding the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union … whose recruitment efforts across the platinum industry have common features. These include systematic violence, extravagant demands - such as a near trebling of pay at Marikana - and collaboration from the mining companies.”
. It concludes: “None of this excuses police commanders of their responsibility for arming their officers to the hilt and ordering them to open fire with automatic rifles. But it should give some people pause for thought before they repeat erroneous allegations that NUM is a sell-out union or that president Zuma ordered the slaughter.”4
. So at one and the same time Amcu demands the “trebling of pay” and enjoys “collaboration from the mining companies”. Don’t you think you’ve got your lines crossed there, comrades? But why does the Star consider such pay demands “extravagant”?
. For a taste of the lifestyle of the Lonmin workers (monthly pay: 4,200 rands, or just over £300), I can do no better than to quote the South African online newspaper, the Daily Maverick: “The workers gathered at Marikana live in shacks they have built for themselves, or rent from shacklords. Their tin rooms lack insulation, water, toilets or electricity. Others live in the hostel compounds the mine provides. Callers to a radio show told a Lonmin spokesperson that the hostels are squalid and not even waterproof. Indeed, from the outside one can see the roofs are rusted through.
. “The miners in the shacks choose not to invest in their Marikana dwellings. They want to use the majority of their earnings to support their families back home, whether in the Eastern Cape, Lesotho or Mozambique. They know their time at the mines will not be long - they age quickly, mostly from silicosis and other dust-related diseases that enfeeble these once strong men. They live and work under conditions of grave institutional violence.”5
. But we cannot contemplate their pay being increased to £900 a month, can we? If that happened some of them might even be able to move out of their shacks and perhaps take their families just above the poverty line.
. As for the NUM being a “sell-out union”, its leadership, like those of all unions in all countries, naturally tends towards compromise. Its bureaucracy has its own separate interests which do not coincide with those of the membership. In South Africa this contradiction is complicated by the domination of the SACP, which tries to balance the rival interests of workers and bureaucrats with those of the capitalist state.
. What about the allegation that “president Zuma ordered the slaughter”? We cannot know the exact details of communications between police and government, and it is highly improbable that Zuma would have wanted such a bloody outcome. But it also seems unlikely that he would have been completely ignorant of police tactics and decisions - including the decision to arm its elite force so lethally. We can also say that he is hardly rushing to bring the killers in uniform and their commanders to book. Blame the victims
. All this was evident even to some loyal Star readers, a couple of whom voiced their discontent at the paper’s coverage of the story. One letter-writer said he was “dismayed and disappointed at the lack of outrage shown”.6 But “lack of outrage” continued to be a feature - for example, when the authorities arrested hundreds of miners (those who were still alive, of course), and threatened to charge them with the deaths of their own comrades!
. If ever there was a cause for “outrage”, here it was. But the Star slipped this piece of vital information halfway down a report headlined: “Miners stay away, as crisis talks continue”. It told readers: “But the prospects for peace were not enhanced when it emerged that, under the South African legal system’s doctrine of ‘common purpose’, all 270 workers detained after the police massacred 34 miners would be tried for murder.”7
. The following day, however, the Star was forced to change its tune in view of the “outraged” reaction by the general secretary of the NUM in Britain, Chris Kitchen, who asked: “How can you be charged with murder when running for your life? It’s deplorable.”8 The paper also reported the reaction of South African justice minister Jeff Radebe to the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to charge the miners. Under the constitution the justice minister - ie, himself - “must exercise final responsibility over the prosecuting authority” and so he had asked the NPA for an “explanation of the rationale behind such a decision”.9
. Both the SACP and Cosatu quickly came out against the proposed murder charges and so the Star was able to criticise the decision too. But note the mealy-mouthed terms of that criticism from justice minister Radebe - his main concern seemed to be that correct procedures had not been adhered to, although he also opposed the actual decision to press charges (it goes without saying that the Star did not inform its readers that Radebe is a member of the SACP central committee). Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven also opposed the decision on technical grounds: the NPA “should have waited for the findings of the judicial commission of enquiry … before jumping the gun and laying such charges”.
. In the face of such powerful opposition from within the alliance, the decision to charge the miners was quickly reversed. But not before many of them were subject to brutal mistreatment amounting to torture at the hands of the police. Neither the SACP, Cosatu nor the Morning Star have called for charges to be pressed against the actual perpetrators of the killings - both individual police officers and those who ordered them to shoot.
. The Star’s line reminds me of its fawning attitude to those who ruled the roost in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. When the Polish ‘communist’ authorities gunned down more than 40 workers in Gdynia in 1970, British ‘official communists’, while regretting the ‘tragedy’ and criticising the ‘mistakes’ of the Polish United Workers Party, remained loyal to its comrades in high office.
. And that is the way it is today when it comes to the SACP - some ‘solidarity’. Instead of following every twist and turn of the class-collaborationist SACP leadership, the Star and its CPB should demand an immediate ending of the cross-class alliance and the adoption by the SACP and Cosatu of independent working class policies. Unless this happens, Cosatu unions will continue to lose ground to rival breakaways and more workers will look for solutions in the politics of black nationalism.
. Notes
. 1.
. 2 .
. 3. Morning Star August 17.
. 4. Morning Star August 20.
. 5.
. 6. Morning Star August 24.
. 7. Morning Star August 31.
. 8. Morning Star September 1-2.
. 9. Ibid.




Some necessary links:


ANC-Billionaires profits being harmed by "strike action" -  THIS is the BOTTOM LINE!:


"President Jacob Zuma says the deployment of security forces is needed to put a stop to the bleeding of the mining industry, but former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota says that deploying troops is risky and unconstitutional.


He also argued yesterday that quelling potential violence on the mines by using crowd and weapons control laws harked back to the apartheid era.


It was not clear last night if Lekota, the leader of Cope, had succeeded in calling for a National Assembly debate on the government’s deployment of troops for this afternoon. By last night he had not received confirmation of a special debate from the Speaker.


Lekota said yesterday an ordinary minister like Justice Minister Jeff Radebe should not have announced troop deployments.


“Only the president is authorised by the constitution to use the armed forces… It is a serious violation for any minister to take a decision of that nature,” Lekota charged.


Meanwhile Zuma, who was addressing Cosatu’s national congress in Midrand, said financial indicators showed that the total rand value of production lost in the gold and platinum mines due to work stoppages over the past nine months “is close to R4.5 billion”



South Africa: ANC orders security clampdown against miners’ revolt

By Julie Hyland

17 September 2012
A march by hundreds of striking miners in South Africa’s platinum mining belt was blocked and dispersed by police on Sunday.

The march was in protest against the state clampdown on wildcat strikes over conditions of backbreaking exploitation imposed by the major transnational corporations in league with the African National Congress (ANC) government and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Earlier, some 1,000 soldiers and 500 police officers were deployed against “illegal gatherings” in the mining area. The raid followed an announcement by South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday banning assemblies of the workers.

The protest marked one month since the August 16 massacre of 34 striking rock drillers at the Lonmin-owned platinum mine in Marikana, near Johannesburg. The deadly assault on the strikers was authorized by the ANC and supported by the NUM.


The miners had broken from the NUM, which has for years collaborated closely with the mining companies, and joined the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).


The strikers have not been cowed, however, and unrest has spread. More than 40,000 workers are now on strike, forcing three leading platinum and gold producers to halt their operations.
The security clampdown came as strikers at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, called for a general strike.


The same day, workers at Lonmin rejected the company’s latest pay offer as an insult. The workers, who are currently paid between 4,000 and 5,000 rand ($488 to $610) a month, are demanding 12,500 rand. The company had offered just 1,000 rand extra.

At a press conference, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe refused to rule out the use of live ammunition against the spreading unrest. While the government stopped short of declaring an official state of emergency, one exists de facto. The South African army was placed on a state of alert last week.

“It appears now that the mining industry is at stake,” Radebe said, warning that those involved “are going to be dealt with very swiftly, without any delay.”

Hours after his announcement, police used tear gas against miners striking the Aquarius Platinum mine near Rustenburg, arresting seven.

On Saturday morning, a special squad raided miners’ hostels in the Marikana area to confiscate machetes and other weapons. Military helicopters and armoured vehicles were deployed in the assault. As residents set up barricades of burning tyres, police used tear gas and rubber bullets in the shantytown near the Lonmin mine.

The Marikana massacre was the worst act of police brutality since the days of apartheid. Some 270 miners arrested during the assault were then charged with complicity in the deaths of their 34 colleagues under the notorious apartheid-era “common purpose law”.

Although the charges have been dropped for now, the latest operation has underscored that the interests of the same multinational and South African firms that profited under apartheid remain intact. The Regulation of Gatherings Act now being enforced by the ANC was notoriously employed by the apartheid government.

This has led to complaints that the ANC’s police actions are only fuelling the revolt. Bishop Jo Seoka, president of the South African Council of Churches, said the “government must be crazy believing that, what to me resembles an apartheid-era crackdown, can succeed.” He warned, “We must not forget that such crackdowns in the past led to more resistance.”

Increasingly, however, the ANC and its partners in the NUM and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have as little legitimacy as the white minority regime the ANC replaced 18 years before.

Comprising a thin layer of wealthy and corrupt black officials, they have been the sole beneficiaries of the post-apartheid policy of “black economic empowerment”.


Leading members of the ANC and the trade unions own significant shares in multi-billion-rand corporate ventures and profit directly from the super-exploitation of their workforces, which they are acting ruthlessly to continue..... (TO BE CONTINUED)




Metalworkers' union: 'first post-apartheid state massacre ... in defence of the local and international mining bosses and their profits'

Statement by the central committee of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) on the Marikana massacre

September 2, 2012 -- As stated above, the CC met against the backdrop of a world in crisis, with the glaring manifestations of the inherent chronic failures of capitalism in our country and internationally, which are now firmly anchored in the heartland of capitalism itself – in the United States (US) and western Europe.


This ugly reality of capitalist barbarity, combined with our untransformed colonial economy and society, has sharply worsened the conditions of the working class and the poor, as evidenced by daily violent service delivery protests in our communities, and growing dissenting voices against the system,demanding housing, water, food, decent jobs and free education for the working class and the poor.

The situation is socially and economically very traumatic among the millions of our youths who cannot find work.

This is the global and national context which explains the Marikana massacre – a worsening global and local capitalist economy which increasingly will resort to bloody violence to “discipline” the working class in order to defend its falling profits.

The CC expressed its deep and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the workers that perished in Marikana.

The CC condemned the intransigence and insensitivity of the mine bosses towards the mining workers, and the savage, cowardly actions and excessive force used by the police, which invariably led to the deaths of 44 workers,including the police massacre of 34. Many workers were injured.


The CC holds the view that organs of class rule, particularly the police, should not be used recklessly and violently to intervene in industrial disputes involving workers and bosses.
The CC was adamant that what happened in Marikana should be correctly understood, and must go down in our history as the first post-apartheid South African state massacre of the organised working class, in defence of the local and international mining bosses and their profits.

The CC called on the working class and poor not to be fooled and blinded by anyone, but to understand that in a capitalist state or class divided country like South Africa, the state will always act in the interests of the dominant class: the class that owns, control and commands the economy, political and social life. This is, after all, the real reason for the existence of any state!

In the South African case, we understand the dominant capitalist class to be centred on the minerals/energy/finance complex and axis. We are therefore not surprised that the post 1994 South African state and government – a state and government whose strategic task and real reason for existence is the defence and sustenance of the minerals/energy/finance complex -- will do anything to defend the property rights and profits of this class, including slaughtering the working class.

While the CC supports the commission of inquiry as announced by head of state and leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Comrade Jacob Zuma, we believe that the commission must act in the interest of uncovering the whole truth surrounding the unfortunate deaths of the 44 workers. Anything short of this will render the commission useless.

To safeguard the working class in this front of struggle, the NUMSA central committee proposes that COSATU together with revolutionary formations of the working class constitute their own independent commission of inquiry, because going forward, the bourgeoisie and its apologists will in one way or the other use the Marikana tragedy to heighten the already active ideological and repressive offensive against the growing militancy of the working class at the point of production and in communities at large.

Our militancy is not borne out of our biological makeup, but is a result of the perpetual failures of the capitalist system to resolve the problems our class faces. The central committee further calls for the suspension of the task force that executed the massacre. The CC calls on the commission to find out and make public who, between the minister of police and the national police commissioner, gave orders to shoot workers with live bullets when they peacefully assembled on that fateful mountain in Marikana.

NUMSA is extremely disgusted by this display of police brutality.


The actionsof the police confirm that we have not, post 1994, transformed the apartheid state and its violent machinery. The actions of the police make a mockery of everything else we thought was transformed, including parliament.


By this singular act, the police have violently reminded us once again what Marx and Lenin taught us about the state: that it is always an organ of class rule and class oppression and that bourgeois democracy is nothing but the best political shell behind which the bourgeoisie hides its dictatorship.

The CC demands the dismissal of anyone in the police or in political office who led to the massacre of the workers.

No one can deny the most obvious fact: despite all the well-intentioned government reforms to mining and mining rights, the black working class on the mines are the most exploited, earn very little and live in squalor, while the mining bosses, both local and international, are reaping billions of dollars from our minerals.

Despite the reduced demand for platinum in western Europe and the US, we know that the three platinum companies Lonmin, Implats and Anglo Platinum in the last five years have registered operating profits of more than R160 billion.

While manufacturing industry has had to settle for an average profit margin of 8%, the mining companies have averaged 29%. In fact, in the boom years of 2006 to 2008, they averaged 41%. Their R160 billion profits would have built more than 3 million RDP houses.


Instead they leave their employees to an impoverished existence in shacks and then express shock and horror when those workers decide they have had enough and refuse to work until they receive a slightly less meagre salary.

The mining bosses are not fit to control the mineral wealth of our country.

NUMSA is convinced that unless that mineral wealth of our country is returned to the people as a whole, mining will continue to be characterised by violence against the working class either, through dangerous working conditions or fromthe bullets of the police in defence of the profits of the mining bosses.

We see no solution to the violence against workers on the mines apart from nationalisation in defence of the lives of all South Africans.

The CC called for the immediate release of all the arrested Lonmin workers. We condemn in the strongest terms, the inhuman treatment and violence meted out to the detained workers. We see no reason why bail is being denied them.

The CC condemns in the strongest terms the National Prosecuting Authority’s prosecutorial strategy of charging the detained miners for the police murder of their fellow workers, and another five charges!


We understand this devious strategy is designed simply to ensure that the trial of the detained workers will last a long time, during which they will be mentally, economically and socially punished and tortured.

The NPA has deployed the combined legal principles of common purpose and dolus enventualis to charge the Lonmin workers with murder. Murder is a crime which requires the intention to kill. Common purpose allows the prosecution of someone who was part of a group of people when a crime was committed, even if they didn’t commit it themselves.


So the NPA is suggesting that the Lonmin mineworkers are guilty of murder because they were part of a group present when murder was committed.

But it was their fellow workers who were murdered.


So the NPA is suggesting that these Lonmin mineworkers gathered together intending the deaths of their fellow workers. This is the most ludicrous charge. It is just another example of how the NPA seeks to delay the trial of the detained workers and thus punish them by prolonging their suffering at the hands of the state, in futility.

One need not be a lawyer to see that there is no rational, legal or moral basis for the use of these legal principles to accuse workers of murder because their fellow workers were killed by police in a riotous situation, triggered by the police, involving more than 3000 people!

By this act, the NPA has further supplied us with proof of why we are informed all evidence of police bullets at the scene was erased overnight!

The callous insensitivity demonstrated by the NPA in this instance further confirms our view of the state and all its machinery – that it is a means for the oppression and suppression of the working class in favour of the mining bosses.

An important lesson from the Marikana massacre for the working class is that unity of the organised working class is sacrosanct.


Further, we all must do whatever it takes to ensure that we constantly promote that unity (sic!).



Marikana — and South Africa’s frayed social fabric

By Terry Bell

September 22, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes -- The mayhem at Marikana cast the spotlight on the platinum sector and on mining in general. And while the concentration was on wages, a myriad other issues emerged, some all too briefly — and not the least of them the living conditions endured by many miners, 18 years after the transition from apartheid.
The utilitarian single sex hostels of that era still exist and shack “farms” comprising single room hovels without any amenities and rented out at between R500 and R800 a month have mushroomed around mine properties. These are issues that are as much at the root of the recent troubles as inadequate wages.
So too is the fact that traditional authorities among the Bafokeng actively resist the provision of amenities such as potable water and sanitation, fearing that this will encourage permanent settlements for miners, mainly from the Eastern Cape. And many of the migrant workers living in these abysmal conditions are also unemployed, some laid off as recently as last year. They remain, increasingly desperate, hoping, almost against hope, that they will eventually find work.
It is against this background that the 22 per cent pay rise agreement struck at Lonmin seems to have been met with an almost unanimous sigh of relief, along with the expressed belief that the solution had been found; that a particularly tragic episode was now behind us. This view was evident as the media focus moved to the knock-on effect the Marikana settlement has had — and may still have — especially throughout the mining sector.
It is a focus that concentrates on wages and the possible and probable effects these may have on the national economy. The consensus among mainstream economists seems to be that such interim double-digit wage deals are bad because they are inflationary.
This may be so, but need not be. There is also the positive aspect that, with more money in their hands, miners and their families will be able to buy more, so increasing the demand for products. Unfortunately, this often means imported products, so raising another issue that is seldom adequately addressed.
In any event, better pay, even at the level of R11,000 for rock drill operators, will not solve the lack of amenities, the usurious demands of the shack farm loan sharks, the mashonisas, or the fact that perhaps more than a third of miners are employed through outsourced companies who may pay considerably less.
For example, and despite the comment by National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni, the 1200 mineworkers retrenched last week from a Lonmin development shaft, were not employed by Lonmin: they worked for construction company, Murray and Roberts. No details are yet available in this case, but construction company employees generally earn less than their mining company counterparts.
It is also accepted that at least 30 per cent of mineworkers are employed via outsourced labour brokers. Yet throughout all the argument about Marikana and the subsequent eruptions this issue was not dealt with in any depth and rumour abounded. Contrary to one widespread item of gossip, businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, an ANC executive member, Lonmin director and former general secretary of NUM, does not own a labour broking company.
However, the ANC investment arm, Chancellor House, has mining interests and one of the fiercest critics of the mining industry, the South African Communist Party (SACP), has a connection with a controversial new platinum mine. Matlotlo Trading 115 is a wholly owned subsidiary of Masincazelane Trust, the “social investment arm” of the SACP. It owns 10 per cent of Toboti Platinum at Kalkfontein.
Matlotlo is in partnership in Kalkfontein with major industry player, Impala Platinum. Implats has a 20 per cent stake in Toboti.
So while there clearly needs to be a thorough investigation into the role played by mining companies, there is also a need for considerable introspection on the part of shareholding entities and their beneficiaries. But until and unless all the issues raised by the Marikana moment — and which apply to the country as a whole — are comprehensively addressed, the social fabric of South Africa will continue to become dangerously frayed.