Accountability And Transparency to South Africans: Farlam Report Should be Made Public

2015-04-01 08:27

Judge Farlam, in heading the commission of inquiry into the Marikana tragedy, handed the finalized report over to President Zuma yesterday. With what has been an emotional two and a half years for the families of the slain miners, this report is the culmination of their pain, bled from the unfortunate turn of events that fateful day. Along with scorn from the the international community, I feel this report should also force companies to relocate themselves as to what social and economic impacts they perpetuate in our country.

Whether or not these calls for public accessibility to the report will be heeded by the President, will be gaged in the coming weeks. Such a decision may hinge on the consent of families of the slain, a decision I’m sure either way, will not be taken lightly on their part. These requests for accessibility of the report are mostly from advocacy groups and civil society, whom I believe are well within their rights to do so. Groups like Amnesty International have been some of the most vocal, as human rights so championed in our constitution were nothing if not desecrated on the 16 August 2012.

In making the report public, scrutiny from all spheres can amalgamate, hopefully leading to positive decision making from officials, thus making inroads to making amends for the tragedy befallen the victims’ families. More than this, the report and its findings should attempt to redress structural imbalances faced by mineworkers, and hold international companies to greater commitment in the social mobility of mineworkers. Practices of remuneration and offshore diversion of capital diversion have been well documented of late, leading to laments from all corners (including government).

Africa on the whole suffers endemically from this phenomenon, where over $38 billion leaves the shores of our land in corporate diversions of capital (tax evasion, offshore accounts, trade mispricing) annually. How much of this is attributed to the mining sector is still a mystery in itself, with all their share listings in financial capitals such as London and New York. Given the rhetoric by the media of the state’s cozying up with capital, any attempts made to hold corporates more accountable, or to devote meaningfully to developmental goals, we may be holding our breath for quite some time.

Africa's annual illicit outflows. Source: Africa Renewal (United Nations 2013)

One group under the most pressure of all are the South African Police Service, whom it is well known have been under intense scrutiny from all sectors of society, even more so since the Marikana incident. Riya Phiyega, should be clutching on tightly to her straws, as investigations of police misconduct have mounted under her watch (most notably with her sub commander in the Western Cape last year). Should she retain her post is anyone’s guess. Depending on how damaging the report’s findings are to her person and office, the report will definitely have an influential impact in this regard.

This event has precipitated schisms from which there’s no turning back in our country. The conflation of race and wealth has become more and more entrenched in the national discourse, leading to greater degrees of separation between class and race (of which most perceive as being entwined). The Sunday Times, with its publication of 'SA's richest' earlier this year has only served to place an indelible spotlight on this phenomenon. With issues of redress, reform and redistribution central to the mess that has emanated from Marikana, this tragedy sits as a representation of all the historical and imbalances, inseminated by South Africa’s colonial past.

Ultimately the report and its contents should provide a platform for greater reference to this stain on our history, one which at the moment is experiencing turbulence, almost akin to traversing through unsettling waters, leaving most passengers on board our national vessel. Historic figures such as Rhodes, as perpetrators of what is has been revealed to be a perpetual system of exploitation, are now placed at the centre of vitriolic protest and debates across the country by youths in higher education. Marikana need only serve as a fresh reminder  for the vindication of their cause.

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