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Deadly Demand for a Pay Raise

17 August 2012, 22:29

One of the deadliest results of political games was witnessed yesterday by South African citizens.  It was actually a friend of mine who alerted me to this as I had resolved to take a break from watching the news, since last week. However, as my friend described the horrific event, I tuned into a news channel to witness this for myself.

I was a bit sceptical, as she elaborated before I had seen the footage, and thought it was another sensational twisting by the media. Media bias is a reality in this country. You cannot trust everything that is reported by the media. And as much as we can comment, some flippantly, we ought to take a step back and consider what it is we are being fed versus what the truth is.

Four major players come to mind that contributed to what played out yesterday. They are the Unions, Management, Miners and the Police. In order to keep this short, I will just refer to the first one for now.


The significance of unions was impeached, as this whole incident developed during the week. Frankly, I am the least bit interested in the factional divisions that led to the formation of AMCU. COSATU and its affiliate, NUM, claim that the killings date back to January. In that case, what did they do (both AMCU and NUM) to prevent the escalation of this matter to what we saw yesterday? NUM also distanced itself laying the blame on AMCU. But when as a union you see that your members’ lives are at stake, do you just pass the buck to someone else? Is that what the membership fees are about?

The miners who staged the protest were not just AMCU members. And when you have the general secretary of NUM, Frans Baleni, say that the “union supported the police's use of force, but it had not expected the loss of lives” you begin to wonder how and why  anyone would consent to be brought to the slaughter by the same union that promises them better representation.

Then you have the general secretary of COSATU, Zwelinzima Vavi, declare that they do not support the force used by police. So where do unions stand? One thing is very clear; the bottom line for these unions is not the welfare of the workers. They can play the blame game all they want but blood has been shed, mostly because of political games.

Part of being someone’s representative is to foresee imminent danger and provide proper advice to your client. Both unions failed in this regard. When this strike action was planned, why did the unions not vehemently discourage the miners from carrying war weaponry, such as spears, pangas, and guns? What happened to placards? Then the blame game ensues. COSATU blames AMCU. AMCU blames management. Who should the families of the deceased miners blame?

The events leading to the mass shooting are not as simple as some citizens make it to be, drawing from their flippant comments. Many are to blame for this massacre. The country is in crisis when protesting for a pay raise becomes deadly. The country is in crisis when political factions are more important that human life. The country is in crisis when more breadwinners are killed, thereby plunging their families deeper into the vacuum of poverty.

South Africa is in crisis.

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