Dashiki Dialogues: Living Lessons From Lonmin

2012-08-25 13:54

Out of the bloody dust of the Lonmin Massacre stems recurrent lessons that demand to be learned.

The unfortunate unrest that unfolded in Marikana and the deaths of those mine workers who died demanding a decent living wage are unfortunately not unique aberrations in our national life.

So as many fortunate citizens learned of this tragedy from the comforts of their living rooms, perhaps watching it on the seven o’clock news with their families at dinner, they were witnessing what is becoming a normal happening.

The bitter truth is that those guns that cut down those 34 men are the same that murdered Andries Tatane of Ficksburg.

They are the same that raw at every service delivery protests or poverty rebelions across the land as SA become more dependent on an overbearing security apparatus.

It will not stop soon unless we learn fast.

As I write this workers at two more mines in the North West have made similar salary demands.

These are Amplats of Aglo American and Royal Bafokeng’s BRPM. Workers there too are asking for R 12,500.

Consider that Lonmin’s CEO, Ian Farmer in 2010 reportedly earned a salary of £2 245 655, approximately R29 million.

I want to offer that these conflicts are a logical outcome of our neo-liberal business ecology, championed by the ANC in its policies and celebrated by the beneficiaries of its establishment.

Its main features favours macro economic successes with little grass roots investments.

Except through Corporate social investments and sponsorships aimed at optimising the media visibility and advertising of the ostentatious donor.

Think here of Shanduka’s R2 million pledge for the dead miner’s funeral costs, but nothing for the bereaved wives and children.

Let alone the real wage problem that actually didn’t die in those shootings.

Then there’s a corporate culture of expense savings that create millions in bonuses for bosses, often at the expense of workers’ salary increases.

However, the poor workers have long learned that without their digging hands, that platinum will not get out of the ground to be traded.

Hence the strikes became a useful tool.

Secondly, it’s instructing that both political and corporate leaders didn’t see this fire brewing.

It’s also very telling that even the mass based ANC and Cosatu is in the cold at out of kilter with Marikana.

The leaderlessness of the Lonmin miners is likely to be matched in other places. Unless our leaders stop with their detached fat-cat tendencies.

Julius Malema’s exceptional connection with the strikers is only a result of his perceived rejection by establishment too.

So we need roll up our dashikis’ sleeves and dialogues with these issues, otherwise Babylon.

» Follow me @Percy_Mabandu

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