Juju: Zuma also has a spear

2012-08-18 18:32

Malema calls for president to step down after the tragedy on his watch

Supporters of President Jacob Zuma are expected to defend the president when they visit Marikana today.

Young Communist League national secretary Buti Manamela and Umkhonto weSizwe general secretary Ayanda Dlodlo, are expected to counter expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s calls for Zuma to resign.

Yesterday Malema told a crowd of over 3 000 striking Lonmin miners Zuma had “presided over the killing of our people, therefore he must step down”.

Malema said it was Zuma who told police “You must use maximum force.”

“Not even the apartheid government killed so many people,” said Malema.

Meanwhile Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant yesterday led a high-level meeting with representatives of Lonmin, the Chamber of Mines, and trade unions the National Union of Mineworkers, Solidarity and Uasa.

The meeting resolved to set up a task team that will look into challenges in the mining sector.

Shabangu expressed fears that the Lonmin mine conflict could exacerbate the crisis faced by the platinum industry, which has recently been facing dwindling returns.

She denied that government had been slow in responding to the Lonmin crisis, saying there had been a lot of efforts behind the scenes to resolve the dispute.

Amid concerns that this week’s violence might have a negative impact on foreign investment, Shabangu said the mining sector would take steps to reassure investors.

“We will take various trips to various parts of the world ... we have to work towards making sure that we bring confidence towards the mining sector,” she said.

“We will be going out and engaging with them to assure them that South Africa will continue to secure their investments,” she said.

Shabangu said her department would keep on engaging with mining communities as the government could not afford to have those communities living in poor conditions.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, the other union representing Lonmin miners, was excluded from the meeting.

Malema yesterday called on Zuma and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to resign.

He said that Zuma, who cut short his attendance of the Southern African Development Community summit in Mozambique on Thursday to visit the scene, “lacked the courage” to come and address the miners.

Zuma announced a commission of inquiry to investigate the cause of the violence.

Referring to businessman Cyril Ramaphosa, who is a shareholder and non-executive director of Lonmin, Malema said “there was a highly connected political figure in this mine”.

“They are only fighting you because they are protecting Cyril Ramaphosa’s shares,” said Malema.

He called on the miners not to retreat until their demands had been met, “even in the face of death”.

Malema poured scorn on the police claim that they had fired in self-defence.

“Why are (police) shooting them when they march with spears, while Zuma holds a spear every December when he marries,” said Malema.

The ANC earlier called on the community and unions not to allow themselves to be used by “agents provocateurs”.

Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj yesterday said Malema’s remarks “do not warrant a response”.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe refused to say whether the party’s office-bearers would discuss the Marikana violence.

He also refused to say whether ANC leaders would meet with the NUM bosses, but admitted they did meet “from time to time”.

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