The South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary, Jeremy Cronin, has placed a significant portion of the blame around the Marikana massacre at the door of the mining industry.
A strike led by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), a splinter of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) ended in a tragedy with 44 people dead, 34 of which were shot by the police. The incident centered on Lonmin’s Marikana mine in the North-West Province has sent shock waves across the globes and saw President Jacob Zuma appoint a judicial commission to establish the causes.
In a piece titled “Some of the underlying systemic factors behind the Marikana tragedy” Cronin argued that “there are welcome signs that the mining houses are coming to realize the tragic folly of their attempts to undermine established unions”.
He added that “The origins of AMCU can be traced back to BHP Billiton Coal at Witbank deliberately financing a union split to undermine the strength of NUM”.
“But AMCU is just the latest example of this strategy employed over and over by the bosses. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, for instance, the Rustenburg platinum belt was rocked with violence and instability associated with the so-called Workers Mouth Piece Union led by the ‘Five Madoda’.
The hand of corporate management in fostering the rise of this pseudo-union, and of shadowy white Afrikaner con-men (‘The Peoples Assurance Brokers’ based in Klerksdorp) has been documented by, amongst others, David Bruce (‘The operation of the criminal justice system in dealing with the violence at Amplats’”
Cronin said “The tragedy at Marikana also had some of its immediate origins in the fact that the platinum mining corporations have not entered into collective bargaining arrangements with the unions as in other key mining sectors, preferring instead to compete amongst themselves, and even reneging on negotiated wage agreements at the individual company level. This was exactly what happened in the violence and instability earlier this year at Implats near Rustenburg”.
Cronin also dipped into the Bench Marks Foundation’s latest research report which found appalling socioeconomic conditions around platinum industry in the North West. “The global platinum boom that has now come to a dramatic halt has seen massive industrial investments across our platinum belt, but these investments and the multi-billion rand profits they have secured, have been accompanied by an appalling degradation in the social conditions in which mine-communities are living,” he said.
See Cronin’s full paper here: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=3733