Mine shootings threaten Zuma, ANC

2012-08-25 23:03

Johannesburg - Powerful trade unions are in turmoil following violence that killed 44 people at a platinum mine strike that has wide-ranging political implications.

Labour leaders charge that rivalry between new and old unions is an orchestrated plot to destroy the labour movement. Others hint darkly at political manipulation. Some talk of collusion by mining companies.

What's clear is that the fall-out from new union rivalry and the government's violent reaction could affect the future of President Jacob Zuma and the ANC.

Thirty-four strikers were shot dead by police in a three-minute barrage of automatic gunfire last week that also injured 78 others. Ten other people were killed the week before, including two police officers who were hacked to death with machetes by strikers who also burned alive two mine security guards.

"The events may well prove to be a watershed in the decline of the African National Congress' national legitimacy and hold onto political power," said Nicolas van de Walle, professor of government at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and author of African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis.

'Co-ordinated political strategy'

The brutal violence occurred at the strike at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana by the new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), which has won over tens of thousands of members in a matter of months in its bid to unseat the long-established and politically connected National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

The new union charges that the national union is no longer aggressively pressing for higher wages and better working conditions because its leadership is too entrenched with the government and is cozying up to the management of big mining firms.

The older unions, which played a vital role in the struggle against apartheid, are trying to reassert themselves. The general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi, spoke on Friday of the need to defeat "bogus breakaway 'unions' and their political and financial backers".

He charged on Friday that the upstart union's illegal strike demanding higher salaries at Lonmin was part of "a co-ordinated political strategy" using intimidation and violence "to divide and weaken the trade union movement".

Amcu says its very attraction is that it is not linked to any political party.

And it says the National Union of Mineworkers' close affiliation with the ANC is bringing about its downfall.

'Bloated with corrupt fat cats'

Over the years, the NUM enjoyed almost a monopoly in the mines around Rustenberg including the Lonmin mine where the shootings occurred.

But now it has become over-politicised, too close to the government and the ANC to properly represent the interests of the poorest miners, according to Joseph Mathunjwa, the new union's president.

The complaint is a microcosm of broader charges that the leadership of the ANC has become bloated with corrupt fat cats who no longer care about its core constituents, the poorest of the poor.

Since the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa has become the richest country on the continent, but that wealth has benefited only whites who continue to control the economy and a small new black elite while the majority of its 48 million citizens continue to battle unemployment, housing shortages and poor service delivery.

It is no coincidence that three former leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers went on to become leaders of the ANC , including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, said Jan de Lange, a veteran mining writer for

"The NUM is probably the most disciplined and significant supporter of Jacob Zuma in his quest for a second [presidential] term and this may dent Zuma's chances," he said.

Far-reaching fall-out

Van de Walle, the Cornell professor, sees a far-reaching fall-out: "Even as [the ANC] has increasingly been undermined by the stench of corruption and power abuses, its inability to undo the sharp socio-economic inequalities of the apartheid era combined with a record of mediocre economic growth may finally be corroding the enormous capital of goodwill it gained by leading the struggle against white minority rule."

Van de Walle said the "sheer symbolism" of policemen shooting at protesters would have suggested to many South Africans that "little has changed and that the state still serves a small rich minority rather than the impoverished majority".

That thought was put more crudely by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, who accused Zuma's government of complicity in the killings. He told striking miners that the government was unable to stand up to the mines because top leaders have shares in those mines that conflict with supporting workers' interests.

Some South Africans see the police shootings as the government using officers to put down challenges to its authority.

Zuma, whose re-election bid is spearheaded by leaders of the challenged National Union of Mineworkers, can expect to confront many more such challenges, with every day bringing more of the sometimes violent service protests by poor South Africans discouraged by their lack of progress, while they see an ostentatious display of wealth exhibited by the black elite.

The shootings have this traumatised nation soul-searching, asking why violence has become an everyday matter in their society, which suffers some of the highest murder and rape rates in the world.

  • blip.noodlum - 2012-08-25 23:21

    Zuma's asleep-at-the-wheel lack of leadership is the direct cause of this crisis which will soon swallow him up.

      john.barbarian.9 - 2012-08-26 00:10

      Exactly.... We will change Zuma with Muma and mineworkers will become a shareholders. Juju's Wisdoms: "Economics are simple. Put bread on the table"

  • larry.lachman.54 - 2012-08-25 23:25

    Stupid stupid stupid people.

  • gavin.simpson.0 - 2012-08-25 23:27

    "the whites"? Ptuh!

  • adam.gardener.12 - 2012-08-25 23:29

    Politics of permanent crisis....this really suits the anc and should become their new motto.

  • bob.small.7547 - 2012-08-25 23:34

    It's all about greed...! Zuma allowed corruption to become entrenched as a way of political life! This country will burn as a result!

      john.barbarian.9 - 2012-08-26 00:16

      Yeah Bob....never seen such a mess before. Thabo Mbeki was "honorable man".....hahahaha

      dennis.vermaak.5 - 2012-08-26 06:18

      I totally agree with you Bob !!

      lownabester - 2012-08-26 06:36

      Just hope this is a wake-up call and that people can vote to get rid of Zuma, he brings nothing to the table, Useless!!!!

  • novelty.ngobeni - 2012-08-26 00:04

    It is said that \A powerful fool will lead in a nation were intelligence became the Enemy\. Now a questions arise, How valuable do you think your vote is and how much does it say about you?

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-08-26 00:20

      And desperate people will believe anything that might relieve their plight. It's not very difficult to choose when you are only presented with two options, especially in our very black and white society (in every sense of the term). The absurdity of the system is that your vote isn't meant to say anything about you personally, it's about your duty to others. And that's how we all get caught. Don't vote! It just encourages them :)

  • duncan.gill1 - 2012-08-26 00:12

    The man was facing corruption charges before he was elected ANC president it surprising he is corrupt now and his senior officials and ministers are corrupt..he just wanted some time to get his hands on some real money so he could take care of his old age in style..why is it so hard for people to realize that where there is smoke there always will be fire!

  • nico.dejongh.90 - 2012-08-26 00:25

    Intervention or direction from Mandela is what we need/demand(with respect).

      ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2012-08-26 03:02

      Poor old man, if he could just be left in peace. He can't say nothing to make a change

      koos.vandermerwe.338 - 2012-08-26 07:32

      saint nelson was the beginning of the end of SA as the light in Africa.

      punungwe - 2012-08-26 07:47

      do you realise at 94 Mandela is probably senile and is simply waiting to meet his maker. In short people have to make the right decisions for themselves and stop bothering Mandela.

  • jakes.cakedregs - 2012-08-26 03:14

    Greed vs Corruption. Deuce; advantage Greed.

  • peter.fraser.92754 - 2012-08-26 05:31

    Leave the whiteys out for a while. The problem is that most of the new black elite were given wealth on a plate without working for it. BEE, Affirmative action and all these so called levellers were not meant to benefit the poorest of the poor.It benefitted a few politically connected individuals and companies that wanted to be seen as the new liberals.As soon as the taste for these new founded wealth and new senior replacement jobs were tasted, the poor were forgotten.You know the old saying,Im olraait Jack > So dont blame the whiteys for everything,let the blacks also accept responsibilities. The government also went ballistic on houses...welfare allowances etc...all to keep votes.They have created a welfare state instead of a nation that works for what it needs.They have become the biggest charity on earth.They are ruining this country by inhouse fighting for wealth and power....they have tried to passify the poor by giving them things...they are still trying to BUY votes..THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN WHAT LEADERSHIP IS ALL ABOUT and to serve a nation.So dont blame the whitey for everything......

      Hugh - 2012-08-26 09:35

      Great points maybe you will agree that the BEE and AA beneficiaries have not created jobs merely shifted the work availability from one end of the scale to the other. An example is the unbundling of government and municipal services that were originally covered by taxes calling them so called private enterprise. None of these created vacancies in the work place.

      Thanduxolo Galada - 2012-08-26 11:31

      PF. Great analysis which is what Dinokeng Scenarios spoke to.

  • attie.gerber.1 - 2012-08-26 06:56

    this is the africa agenda and will never change. look at all the other african countries and have been like that for many years after independance. corruption is rive and south africa has to fit in with them

      katleho.mdlalose - 2012-08-26 08:31

      @Max, Well said, like a true racist.

  • BillS1961 - 2012-08-26 07:23

    Will the next Nelson Mandela please stand up, South Africa needs you desperately!

      Hugh - 2012-08-26 09:43

      Are you talking about the same Mandela that formally gave his blessing to Zuma at the latters inauguration. The same Mandela that has remained a faithful disciplined cadre who has not stood up to be counted when all could see that the ANC was leading the nation to ruin.

  • sarel.brits - 2012-08-26 07:36

    It looks like the 2nd coming of JC could be quicker than JZ predicted we can only hope. Its going to be interesting to watch the Dragon eat its own entrails.

  • NickvanderLeek - 2012-08-26 07:48

    Well it's exactly right isn't it - the police shooting on the crowd sends a simple message: Nothing has changed. Even Americans like the Occupy Oakland group have that impression. It's not as important whether the message is accurate, but what the people are seeing. After this I strongly doubt whether Zuma will get a second term. Kgalema Motlanthe will probably be our next president. And the ANC continues to shoot itself in the foot. Seems as though the ANC is addicted to corruption. That it can't help but fall into the trough.

  • deon.jansevanrensburg.58 - 2012-08-26 07:53

    \...but that wealth has benefited only whites who continue to control the economy and a small new black elite ...\ - and there you have the prevailant fallacy that is being preached as gospel. Mines belong to foreign companies - not whites, big corporations belong to investors - not whites; my company belongs to me - I work my @ss off every day, I stress about money every day, I stress about my responsibilities to my employees every day, I fight for every little piece of business every day, I cannot do government work because I have no BEE partner. Then why don't you have a BEE partner mlungu? Because I cannot find a partner willing to put in the same effort as I do and who is willing to risk everything like I do - simple. The entitlement attitude must stop

  • leon.scheepers.58 - 2012-08-26 07:53

    First note - Definitely not written by a South African. Then secondly, statements like: "but that wealth has benefited only whites who continue to control the economy" make me see red (especially when written by a foreigner). I am 48 yrs old and have worked for myself my whole life - everything I have, I have worked for - NOTHING was given to me. I have been in many business ventures, worked with my hands and worked many times through the night. Earlier this year I lost a business and my house. I have picked myself up and have started another business which seems to be more sustainable and I think there is a future in it - point I'm trying to make - I rely on myself, not the government, to get somewhere in life - I am where I am because of me - not because I repressed some guy or did him in, I DESERVE to be where I am because it is the sum total of MY efforts. Our black brothers and sisters must learn this truth in life - get over apartheid already! Look where Japan and Germany was 18yrs after the second world war - did they sit around and say: "ohhhh, we need more money". Look at the Jews after the holocaust...they did not expect any one to look out for them, they looked out for themselves. If our black brothers and sisters only realised what an opportunity they have right now to make something of themselves! If you were a bright young ambitious student right now, the sky would be the limit, but no...your sense of entitlement and injustice prevents you from seeing this

      steveroodt - 2012-08-26 08:15

      True Words

  • jeanpierre.vandervyver - 2012-08-26 08:23

    Time to vote out all corrupted leaders and politicians, and to reinstate a new law of the limited wages for all politicians and leaders...south africa is a beautiful country, do not let the fools and corrupts destroy it, we gotta stick together....its gonna be lots of work...but it will get easier.... "life is a garden, you must alwass tend and care the garden if you want it organised and beautiful"

  • AyGeewils - 2012-08-26 08:28

    The dynamics of a successful society lies in leadership, integrity and vision - the ANC and its affiliates have none of these - by default - it must fail and it will. The great tragedy will be the carnage it will leave in its wake.

  • tricia.sutherland1 - 2012-08-26 08:53

    people have died and these unions carry on with 'business as usual', they have no control, no strategy and make money by enciting people. why are they still talking??? these unions do not know how to negotiate, mediate, caucus and they promise their members what they can't deliver. they are troublemakers.

  • alaina.nel.12 - 2012-08-26 09:17

    Nothing can threaten a TWIT like Zuma.It's all his fault.How is it possible for a twit to run a country.Just step down TWIT zuma.. - 2012-08-26 23:03

      The only Grade 8 highschool student with mutliple Masters and Doctors degrees i know of

  • Hugh - 2012-08-26 09:28

    I find it interesting that immediately after the shootings the whole issue of strikes and rights seemed to disappear. non one has turned up to strike since. Second is the dubious claim by the writer that SA became the richest African country after 1994. - 2012-08-26 23:04

      We were the richest before 94, robbed blind by the politicians afterwards, and blamed on the west... Sad hey?

  • lenox.ntlantsana - 2012-08-26 10:20

    And then, who do we have as our President? All I want to know is that : See the current President finishes his term of office unlike former President Thabo Mbeki (ZiZi)

  • mabeeden - 2012-08-26 10:30

    Maybe when the country is ungovernable the Tokyo's and Cyrils will appear?

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-08-26 17:58

    I must admit that under zuma's leadership things have really gotten out of hand. Fraud and Corruption fill our newspapers daily, do we ever see or hear of any of these people going to jail. No they just keep on doing what the do best. When something happens and it calls for a strong hand, zuma is out of the country. He is also at fault for not dealing the ANCYL earlier, allowing them too much free will. Zuma allowed the ANCYL and some of his cadres to get away with racism, instead of pulling them into line he let them carry on. He has allowed Cosatu, numsa, Sacp to shout their mouths off. He has given them the idea that they are the power. Expelling Julius Malema and his cohorts he should have brought the ANCYL in to tow the line. When you are the President, you must understand you cant pleasse everybody, same as a boss, his employers work for him, he is not there to be their friend. He pays them to do a job, he does'nt pay them to like him. This has been zuma's downfall, trying to protect, the very people who are going to be his downfall.

  • - 2012-08-26 23:01

    Ten other people were killed the week before, including two police officers who were hacked to death with machetes by strikers who also burned alive two mine security guards... Yet the ANC never mentioned them or how justice must be served for them? Heck , they didnt even rush to Marikana to "investigate" those incidents, nor have they paid for the funerals of those men like they did with the strikers. Liars, Liars, Vote Seeking Liars

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