Maimane: Declare August 16 Marikana Memorial Day

Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in the green blanket, rallies mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012. Picture: Leon Sadiki
Strike leader Mgcineni Noki, also known as the man in the green blanket, rallies mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012. Picture: Leon Sadiki

DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Thursday reiterated his request to President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare August 16 “Marikana Memorial Day” in honour of the Marikana miners who were killed by police in 2012.

Maimane wrote a letter to the president saying the miners had bravely protested against what they believed were unjust wages and inhumane living conditions.

“Instead of being met by meaningful engagement, they were met by live rounds of ammunition from a government far removed from the realities and struggles of daily life in South Africa,” Maimane wrote.

Read: Police at Marikana were 'reckless and irresponsible' - new report

The DA leader said Ramaphosa has the power to declare August 16 a Marikana memorial day as it is in the nation’s interest for him to do so. He added that there is need for reform in the sector and that Ramaphosa should establish a mining task team that will oversee the reform.

Maimane noted that the task team should comprise of governmental officials, industry experts and union representatives that include representatives from major mining companies.

“The task team must also focus on ending illegal mining by increasing competition and opening up the formal mining economy to more players, while exploring the role of local governments in building safer housing communities in mining towns.” Maimane further said that the team could draft proposals to ensure that profit sharing exists between mining companies and miners. He also suggested that the current Mining Charter needs to be reviewed.

Read: Marikana: The mining sector needs to transform, says Mokonyane

Last year the DA leader made the same call saying that “such a declaration is in the interest of justice and national unity. It would also go some way in giving meaning to the president’s commitment in his state of the nation address to ‘play whatever role [he] can’”.

Maimane said he had hope that Ramaphosa would act on the call that former president Jacob Zuma ignored.

“We cannot continue to wish away its legacy year in and year out. It is high time the talking stops and action begins.”

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