Mine shooting: DA wants accountability

2012-08-21 18:21
Lindiwe Mazibuko (File, Die Burger)

Lindiwe Mazibuko (File, Die Burger)

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Cape Town - It is time for difficult and painful questions about last week's Lonmin mine shooting in the North West, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a special debate in the National Assembly, she welcomed President Jacob Zuma's promise to establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry into the tragedy at Marikana.

At least 34 people died and 78 were injured in a clash between police and striking miners on Thursday.

Mazibuko said the tragedy could have and should have been prevented.

"Its escalation speaks of a lack of top-level leadership and of ministerial accountability.

"The judicial commission must therefore be established immediately with precise terms of reference. It must not at any point be downgraded to an internal inquiry."

The commission should specifically establish who authorised the use of live ammunition on the striking workers, within the context of how the SA Police Service managed violent strikes.

"Whoever authorised the use of live ammunition must be held accountable."

It should also, among other things, be revealed on what, if any, intelligence the planning was conducted; and if national police commissioner Riah Phiyega exercised appropriate judgement and leadership.

"In most democracies, a crisis of this magnitude would have immediately precipitated the resignation of the [police] minister, and, in many cases, the fall of the government."

The Democratic Alliance was concerned that no one in the government seemed to be assuming political responsibility for the shooting.

"We need accountability now. The minister of police, the secretaries general of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, and the National Union of Mineworkers, and the chief executive officer of Lonmin should carefully consider their positions, and, in my view, offer their resignations. Their position is untenable."

The commission should uncover every factor and decision that led to the violence.

Its work had to be data-driven, and not subject to political interference, sentiment, or a misguided desire to make the findings appear more acceptable.

"The role of every actor, from the mineworker to the trade union leader, the police officer, to the board member of Lonmin, the responsible government minister, to the president himself, must face fair and impartial scrutiny," Mazibuko said.

Scars

Meanwhile, Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota said the shooting will leave indelible scars that will not quickly heal.

"The tragedy was preventable, if only proactive and even-handed measures had been implemented by all parties," he told the National Assembly.

Lekota said the judicial commission of inquiry announced last week should lay bare the whole truth, and that nothing less would do.

"The families of the two policemen and the two security guards who were killed, as well as those of the miners who lost loved ones, need to know the whole truth of what has really been happening," he said.

"The key question is how many miners were armed with guns requiring SA Police Service [SAPS] members to use semi-automatic rifles against them? We need to know this."

The shooting at Marikana was a dismal failure of leadership and of accountability on the part of the African National Congress. That was where the central focus should lie, Lekota said.

Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson on police Velaphi Ndlovu said everyone involved in the tragedy was a victim, and that mine management should take the most blame.

It had failed to realise that workers wanted it to deal with issues that affected them every minute of the day, and had failed to fully engage workers.

"How dare the employer give an ultimatum to the workers to return to work when they are still in mourning, the injured in hospital and others awaiting trial?"

The police were at fault because they had been used by mine management to solve the mine's problems instead of protecting both sides.

"I hope that the workers have now learned that negotiation is the key to success," Ndlovu said.

Professionalism

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder said the question in a situation such as Marikana was at what stage should maximum force be used?

"In my experience, the better the police force is trained, the less force is necessary to contain a difficult situation like this," he said.

No role-player could be singled out. All shared the guilt.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) had erred in the way they conducted their power struggle.

Mulder claimed the employer had colluded with the established unions, like the NUM, to keep Amcu out and leave minority unions with no rights.

The police allowed the situation to develop into such an uncontrollable state, and union leaders incited violence.

Mulder said the government had failed to keep unions accountable and ensure they exercised their power without intimidation and without violence as a bargaining tool.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said events such as the Marikana shooting were here to stay, unless senior policing levels became more professional.

"Perhaps, it is time for this House to review the mechanism of civilian oversight in SAPS. Should we not confine civilian oversight to the office of the minister and let experienced police personnel run SAPS?"

Another area of concern was the proximity of certain trade unions to the ANC and the deployments of senior individuals to the private sector.

This had compromised the Lonmin mine workers.

"For example, just a few hours before the Marikana shoot-out, NUM, the police and Lonmin reportedly held a meeting to discuss the situation without involving Amcu," Holomisa said.

- SAPA
Read more on:    amcu  |  da  |  num  |  cope  |  lonmin  |  ff plus  |  udm  |  ifp  |  mosiuoa lekota  |  velaphi ndlovu  |  lindiwe mazibuko  |  bantu holomisa  |  pieter mulder  |  mahikeng  |  politics  |  mining unrest
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