Commission hears about union rivalry

2012-11-27 16:42

Rustenburg - The Farlam Commission has listened to a radio debate, recorded in August, in which union rivalry was blamed for the deadly violence at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana, in North West.

In the broadcast, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) president Joseph Mathunjwa blamed the violence on the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Speaking on the SAFM morning show on 15 August, he said the violence was an act of desperation by a union which was losing workers' support.

The show also featured NUM president Senzeni Zokwana and a Lonmin executive, Bernard Mokwena.

Mathunjwa said during the show that Amcu had replaced NUM as the majority union at several mines.

"People must refrain from violence. When you lose members it doesn’t mean you have to kill people," he said.

"People have freedom of association. In 1994 we voted for that freedom."

Accusations about just who was responsible for the violent protests dominated the show.

By the time it was aired, 10 people - including two policemen and two security guards, had been killed in strike-related violence.

Zokwana told radio listeners the Lonmin guards had been killed "Amcu style".

He said they had been deployed to protect the NUM's offices.

Mathunjwa responded: "He [Zokwana] is an adult. I cannot say he is lying. What he is saying is not correct. How did he identify them [the people who killed the guards]?"

Zokwana said some of the striking workers had been coerced into gathering on a hill near the mine.

"People have been forced to go to that mountain. They have been calling us. They are saying ‘we want to come back to work but the level of intimidation is high'.

"As NUM, we are saying let everybody go back to work. Get everybody disarmed, get those responsible for the murders arrested."

Zokwana said the NUM had not been involved in violent activities and "would not go so low as to kill people".

Mokwena said during the broadcast that the mine was willing to engage the workers on their pay rise demands "in a civilised manner, with no pangas".

The next day, on 16 August, police opened fire on the miners on the hill, killing 34 and wounding 78.

The three-member commission, led by retired judge Ian Farlam, is holding public hearings at the Rustenburg Civic Centre as part of its probe into the 44 deaths.

The commission was announced by President Jacob Zuma in August.

The hearing continues.

  • morne.demeillon - 2012-11-27 16:48

    Its the unions that instigate violence, i blame them for the people who got killed at Marikana.

      wayne.vandyk.98 - 2012-11-27 16:55

      i agree 100%

  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-11-27 19:41

    Dirty tricks for an ever-dwindling membership and struggling to justify their existence. With our draconian labour laws, CCMA and the failure of Unions to transform themselves into the 22nd century, they are all vultures. I don't agree with the manner in which things were achieved or how issues were finally brought to the fore, but the workers finally had to do things for themselves. The Unions have done nothing meaningful for too long, accepting bad deals and using hate and fear to keep labour 'motivated'. For organisations that are so very pro poor and pro labour they sure as hell spend a lot of time trying to kill each other off instead of doing what they were hired to do.

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