DA billboard 'highly opportunistic and totally out of order' – AMCU

2019-01-18 21:47
The DA billboard being damaged on Wednesday.

The DA billboard being damaged on Wednesday. (Twitter)

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The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) joined a chorus of voices criticising the DA and its leader, Mmusi Maimane, for a billboard that lists victims of several tragedies in South Africa under the slogan: "The ANC is killing us."

In a statement, the union said Maimane was using a sensitive matter to score political points before the upcoming elections. 

"AMCU is extremely disappointed with the DA and its leader ... for utilising a painful part of history as part of their election campaign. We view it as highly opportunistic and totally out of order," AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa said.

READ: 'ANC is killing us' - DA unveils billboard listing names of Marikana, Life Esidimeni victims

"As a fellow South African, and in particular a black person, one would expect Mmusi Maimane to respect the cultural protocol of dealing with those who lost their lives."

Mathunjwa said while it was "general knowledge" that the Marikana mining massacre was "well-planned and orchestrated" by the government, Maimane had attended several commemoration events and understood that it was AMCU's position that the massacre could never be used for political posturing. 

Tell the truth, don't score political points

"Truth be told, people [can] be criticised, but not to score political points. This is also why Maimane and the DA were barred from visiting the koppie at Marikana on the eve of the commemoration - for the same reason," Mathunjwa said.

"We respect the right to freedom of expression and we support a multi-party democracy in principle, but not at the expense of the victims whose wounds are still raw. The victims have not had closure after this massacre, and therefore their feelings and rights must be respected.

"In as much as AMCU will never lay claim to being the sole custodian of the Marikana massacre and its victims, one would have expected Maimane and the DA to show respect and consult with AMCU, which represents the families and the victims."

NGO Section27 also voiced its concern.

The billboard featured the name of five-year-old Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School, outside Polokwane, almost five years ago. In addition, it named victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which 144 psychiatric patients died.

Section27, which represented the Komape family and many of the Life Esidimeni victims' families, said it was wary about commenting on party political issues in public. But it said it would be remiss to not add its voice to the discourse.

No permission granted

"We know that our clients have now, or in the past, objected to the gratuitous exploitation of their suffering for political leverage, and without their consent," Section27's Ngqabutho Nceku Mpofu said in a statement.

According to Section27, Christine Nxumalo, whose sister tragically lost her life as a result of the marathon project and who is a prominent member of the Life Esidimeni Family Committee, addressed Maimane directly via Facebook.

"How insensitive can you get? This is the 2nd time you do this. You claim to care and you bow your head in silence for those who died, but in actual fact you are using the names of deceased in vain," said Nxumalo.

WATCH: Angry Life Esidimeni victims' relatives tear down DA billboard

"If you cared you would have contacted the families, but you didn't because you don't give a damn. And it is also crystal clear that you do not have a shred of decency because yet again you didn't bother or didn't think to call the families of the deceased before embarking on your high moral campaign...why? Because you know you are using their pain, as a political scoring point."

Mpofu added that the Komape family was not aware that Michael's name was on the DA billboard until Section27 told them.

"While we agree that it is necessary to expose corruption, lack of political accountability and lack of delivery of services, all political parties should ensure that such exposure is not achieved by exploiting the pain and trauma such as that of the families, victims, survivors and others without their informed consent," Mpofu said.

Read more on:    amcu  |  da  |  mmusi maimane  |  joseph mathunjwa  |  johannesburg  |  life esidimeni  |  politics  |  elections

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