No holds barred in Cyril Ramaphosa, Dali Mpofu exchange over Marikana

2014-08-12 15:05

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of being a “liar” who was motivated by his financial interests when he asked his comrades to intervene in the turmoil that resulted in the deaths of 34 people in Marikana on August 16 2012.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, who is representing the arrested and injured mineworkers, accused Ramaphosa of having a conflict of interest when he only chose to approach, among others, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, then minerals minister Susan Shabangu, former police minister Nathi Mthethwa and former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) leader Senzeni Zokwana to intervene after 10 people had died earlier that week.

Mpofu questioned why Ramaphosa did not consult Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) leader Joseph Mathunjwa if he was trying to save lives by talking to all parties involved in the unrest.

Mpofu described Ramaphosa’s closeness with the ANC, NUM and government ministers as a “cesspool of incestuous relationships” which amounted to a conflict of interest.

But Ramaphosa said he took “exception” to Mpofu characterising his relationships in that manner and reiterated that his main goal was to save lives.

The situation got tense when Ramaphosa referred to a “friendly” conversation he had with Mpofu yesterday where he said he’d promised to help Mpofu get certified as a senior counsel.

But Mpofu got angry at Ramaphosa for “insinuating” that he had asked for Ramaphosa’s help.

When commission chairperson Judge Ian Farlam interjected and stressed that yesterday’s events had nothing to do with the objectives of the commission, Mpofu said Ramaphosa was lying about what took place yesterday.

“But he (Ramaphosa) comes here to patronise me. He must not lie about what happened yesterday,” said Mpofu, adding that Ramaphosa had offered to help him gain his certificate as a silk, a title that can only be conferred to advocates and certified by a sitting president.

The spat ended when Ramaphosa assured Mpofu that President Jacob Zuma “actually likes you” and promised to help Mpofu and other advocates get certified as silks.

Farlam had to intervene again after another heated exchange between Mpofu and Ramaphosa in which the latter criticised Mpofu’s “wording” of a question to which Mpofu responded that his “Bantu education” was to blame for the way he phrases questions.

“Maybe that’s why you have a white legal team,” added Mpofu.

Mpofu also accused Ramaphosa of having ulterior motives when he tried to persuade Shabangu and other ministers not to characterise the Marikana unrest as a labour dispute but an act of “criminality”.

“Isn’t it correct that you wanted more police to be deployed so they could apply the “Shoot to Kill” mantra, which happened anyway?” asked Mpofu.

But Ramaphosa, testifying for the second day, reiterated that all he had tried to do was save lives and did not believe in the police’s policy of “fighting fire with fire”.

Mpofu argued that Ramaphosa was solely motivated by his financial interests, and not a yearning to save lives, when he tried to get the ANC to intervene.

“I never saw this as a matter where one should protect his financial interests. That was the last thing on my mind. I wanted to save lives,” said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa admitted that lives could have been saved if Lonmin management had not taken a decision not to engage with rock drill operators outside of the wage bargaining structures.

“But even if Lonmin refused to engage with mineworkers, it doesn’t justify killing people,” said Ramaphosa.

During the lunch break, a group of Amcu supporters began singing derogatory songs and pointing to the room where Ramaphosa was kept, shouting that he should “voetsek” (get lost).

The hearing continues.

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