Joerie, joerie, botter en brood,
as ek jou kry, slaat ek jou dood

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Klik hier om een link te hebben waarmee u dit artikel later terug kunt lezen.Spaanse Olifantenjager en minnaressenverzamelaar is nu ook Chauffeurmepper

Zo kennen we dat soort volk : tegen alle regels in op olifantenjacht gaan in gezelschap van een aanhoudster, terwijl het land kreunt onder een nooit geziene werkloosheid en zware financiële problemen.  En enkele maanden later zien we in een video dat dit misselijk personage in de auto, omdat hij door zijn chauffeur enkele meters verkeerd wordt afgezet de man uitscheldt en een tik verkoopt.
Het Franse volk in 1789 had gelijk : weg met die keuninklijke handel. Hop, hop,  allemaal de huifkar in, richting La Bastille. Op de binnenkoer staat een speciaal toestel.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Ronnie Kasrils: Marikana – It was like poking a hornet’s nest

26 August, 2012 — Sunday Times (South Africa) — Those in power say, don’t point fingers. But we need exactly that if we’re to learn from this, writes Ronnie Kasrils.
Our country reels with horror and shock at last week‘s Marikana shootings. There is disbelief around the world that this has happened in a democratic South Africa.
An order was given to deploy almost 500 police armed with automatic weapons, reinforced by armoured vehicles, horsemen and helicopters; they advanced on a desolate hill where 3000 striking miners were encamped. That denoted an order from on high with a determination to carry out a dangerous and dubious operation to clear an isolated, stony outcrop of desperate strikers armed with the sticks and spears often referred to as “cultural” weapons in our country.
These people were hardly occupying some strategic point, some vital highway, a key city square. They were not holding hostages. They were not even occupying mining property.
Why risk such a manoeuvre other than to drive the strikers back to work at all costs on behalf of the bosses who were anxious to resume profit-making operations?
If by occupying that hill the strikers constituted a threat to other workers, officials or rival unionists, then a feasible solution could only be through reasonable, patient negotiations and remedies, no matter the timeline — not a deployment of state force that could only end in the dreadful manner witnessed: 34 strikers dead, up to 80 wounded, their families devastated.
It may well have been instinctive fear that caused the police to open fire as a group of miners apparently desperately charged them, or even possibly tried to get out of the encampment, but why put the law enforcers there in the first place?
The police manoeuvre was akin to poking a hornet‘s nest. What mind-set was behind the police intention?
Who set the agenda? What was the government‘s hand in this? This cannot be kept secret, or can it?
First it was our new national police commissioner who told the nation: “This is not the time to point fingers.”
Our president reiterated the call, word for word, soon thereafter. He naturally announced that an independent judicial inquiry would be appointed. The Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, presiding over an interministerial committee, repeated the refrain “we must not point fingers”. It seems the national police commissioner had set the politicians‘ agenda. We dare ask: is this not a recipe for avoiding accountability and just plain stalling until the hue and cry dies down?
We have heard much about the illegality of the strike and the panga-wielding strikers who, it is alleged, brought the disaster on themselves, a clear-cut case of blaming the victims, victims who are among the most exploited of our workforce and who labour under the most dangerous and dreadful conditions — truly the wretched of the earth.      WOW!
The president hints that there is much that lies behind this incident. Who knows what is implied? Sounds like the stuff of plots and conspiracy.
Of course, much lies behind the catastrophe, which the judicial inquiry should examine — chiefly the exploitative mine owners and the horrendous conditions under which our country allows mineworkers to toil and their communities to fester. Add to the mix trade-union rivalry, demagoguery and intimidation, and previous killings.   ...and what about apart-hate?!
Then there is the role of mine management, disputes about pay and conditions, victimisation and dismissals. Whatever manner of cause and effect may be discerned, there is no escaping where the finger needs to point in the first instance.
And that is right at the trigger fingers responsible for mowing people down as at a duck shoot.
Let us not do what the forces of apartheid automatically did in the past and hide the truth about state violence. Let us not create a fog of war around this massacre and declare that fingers must not be pointed, because in effect what that implies is that we shall not point to where responsibility lies.
We shall not point to those who fired the weapons; to those who gave the orders; to those who have encouraged the police to maintain a bellicose culture of “shoot to kill”; to those who failed to train them in acceptable methods of crowd control; to those who decided that the time for reckoning with striking mineworkers had arrived. To adopt such a course will mean that leadership will be exonerated and accountability will become yet another victim.
If we do not point fingers at the right targets, the politicians — who bear executive authority for those who may have given some kind of green light, or by dereliction of responsibility left the police to their own devices — will go unscathed.
We are asked to put our faith in a judicial commission and let the dust settle. Nice, sober talk. But in a democracy that has sworn to make such massacres a thing of the past we need to cry out in the name of humanity and justice and demand full transparency and accountability.
Indisputably the mine owners and managers are guilty for their greed and arrogance. But then we are all guilty for allowing this extreme exploitation of our working people to persist into the 19th year of freedom.
If by default we fail to hold our police system and government accountable for the systemic brutality we run massive risks, detrimental to our very security and democratic freedoms. A judicial inquiry must run its course speedily and, hopefully, provide the truths we desperately need.
A national crisis like this requires frank talk by all concerned South Africans. We need to mobilise and demonstrate solidarity with the victims. Our history reverberates with the words: Do not blame the victims!
For we have seen it all before, from Sharpeville to Bisho and last year‘s police killing of Andries Tatane. If we fail to point to the cause of the gunfire, the fingers will be pointed at the victims as they lie dead in the fields or the streets. And the shootings will continue.
Marikana is undoubtedly a turning point in our history. If we fail to act decisively, we do so at our peril and we leave the space to the demagogues. If, as a young democracy we are to emerge stronger and better we need the truth and we need to spare nobody‘s position or reputation. Above all we need a new deal for our mineworkers and we need a system based on economic justice for the poor of our land. We need a political leadership not distracted by holding on to their positions at all costs, but one focused night and day on urgently solving our people‘s problems and serving their needs.
[Ronnie Kasrils is a veteran SACP members, author, activist and former ANC government minister.]


Marikana, where the ANC’s chickens came home to roost By William Bowles

26 August 2012 —
Anc logo
The African National Congress (ANC) won a resounding victory in South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 with a host of promises that it would improve the lives of the Black majority (85% of the population). And whilst there have been gains in some areas, overall, most Black South Africans are materially worse off now than they were under Apartheid.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have vanished; costs for the basics: electricity, water, food and rents have skyrocketed. Ironically, no longer the pariah of the world, South Africa’s white minority is even better off now than it was under Apartheid (remember the ‘Rainbow Nation’?). The only Blacks to have gained have been a tiny minority, many from the ranks of the (former) liberation movement and the trade unions as well as the South African Communist Party (SACP).

So what went wrong? Did anything go wrong? Has the ANC and its partners in the Tripartite Alliance, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the SACP betrayed their roots and sold out Black South Africa? Indeed, sold out the rest of Africa?

In the run-up to the 1994 elections, a nationwide debate (of sorts) took place, the outcome of which was a document titled The Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). Yours truly even contributed a paragraph or two on the media, privacy and freedom of information section. It doesn’t advocate a socialist South Africa but it most definitely was the first practical step taken to redress the decades of Apartheid discrimination and repression. This is part of what the document had to say about the importance of the RDP (all the emphases are mine):

Our history has been a bitter one dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies. The result is that poverty and degradation exist side by side with modern cities and a developed mining, industrial and commercial infrastructure. Our income distribution is racially distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world – lavish wealth and abject poverty characterise our society.
The economy was built on systematically enforced racial division in every sphere of our society. Rural areas have been divided into underdeveloped bantustans and well-developed, white-owned commercial farming areas. Towns and cities have been divided into townships without basic infrastructure for blacks and well-resourced suburbs for whites.
Segregation in education, health, welfare, transport and employment left deep scars of inequality and economic inefficiency. In commerce and industry, very large conglomerates dominated by whites control large parts of the economy. Cheap labour policies and employment segregation concentrated skills in white hands. Our workers are poorly equipped for the rapid changes taking place in the world economy. Small and medium- sized enterprises are underdeveloped, while highly protected industries underinvested in research, development and training.
The result is that in every sphere of our society – economic, social, political, moral, cultural, environmental – South Africans are confronted by serious problems. There is not a single sector of South African society, nor a person living in South Africa, untouched by the ravages of apartheid. Whole regions of our country are now suffering as a direct result of the apartheid policies and their collapse.
In its dying years, apartheid unleashed a vicious wave of violence. Thousands and thousands of people have been brutally killed, maimed, and forced from their homes. Security forces have all too often failed to act to protect people, and have frequently been accused of being implicated in, and even fomenting, this violence.We are close to creating a culture of violence in which no person can feel any sense of security in their person and property. The spectre of poverty and/or violence haunts millions of our people.
There is no doubt that the Apartheid system left behind a gargantuan task for the newly democratized South Africa to overcome. Black ‘education’ was limited to producing ‘hewers of wood and carriers of water’, thus the critical skills and infrastructure needed, especially in governance and education would, even with the best will in the world, take a generation or more to produce if the new South Africa was to redress the imbalances created by white minority rule. White rule that had created an advanced, Western state but for only 5% of the population. A bizarre setup. The only country I know of where there are locks on fridge doors to stop the servants stealing food.
But what became known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), was and is largely a bad joke, limited to a tiny black elite who were rapidly coopted into the existing white, capitalist power structures. A process I might add, that had already begun before the 1994 election eg, Cyril Ramaphosa, former head of NUM who became closely involved with the Oppenheimers and the Anglo-American Corporation. (An image sticks in my mind of Ramaphosa, dressed in tweeds and plus fours, fly rod in hand, hanging out with Harry Oppenheimer.)
At this point I should acknowledge that from 1993 through to the election of 1994, I directed the creation of the ANC’s Election Information Unit, tasked with collecting and producing information for the campaign including the ANC’s election programme. Indeed, I occupied a very privileged position to observe the evolution (some might say devolution) of the ANC’s post-Apartheid economic and political programme.
One thing is for sure, at no point did the ANC advocate a socialist alternative in spite of the critical roles both the SACP and COSATU played in the struggle to overthrow Apartheid. Instead, both the SACP and COSATU took a back seat, deferring to the ANC’s neoliberal programme, all in the cause of ‘unity’. The ANC government’s post-Apartheid programme couldn’t even be called a social democratic one, aka postwar Britain’s Labour government. But worse was to come.
The Empire’s neo-liberal agenda
From the end of the 1980s it was clear that Apartheid capitalism’s days were numbered. But it was also the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, the ANC’s major backers. The period from around 1988 until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 was what you might call an interregnum; globally, situations were fluid, many things were possible. In South Africa a window of opportunity existed within which it was possible for progressive forces to gain an advantage. Not necessarily socialism but, as some advocated at the time, progressive structural changes could have been implemented in South Africa that would have been difficult to reverse, had the ANC had the desire to do so.
But from my observations from within the ANC’s election campaign it was clear that Mbeki and those around him had already thrown in their lot, first with Tony Blair’s Labour Party (major advisors in the run-up to the election) and second with Clinton’s Democratic Party. The deal was done. The US even allowed South African communists such as Joe Slovo, formerly branded a terrorist, to visit the US ( I heard him talk at Hunter College in NYC in 1991).
The ANC brought Greenberg-Lake onboard, the US PR company that had engineered Bill Clinton’s successful election campaign, as ‘advisors’ (the ‘Blair-Clinton axis’). Then the US National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Democratic Party’s think-tank tried to get in on the act, quickly followed by the Republican Institute.
The final (literal) nail in the coffin of a potentially progressive South Africa was the assassination of Chris Hani on the 10 April 1993. Hani, had he lived, in all likelihood would have been the successor to Mandela and South Africa would have had the former Chief of Staff of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the military arm of the ANC as well as being General-Secretary of the SACP, as president.
Images 1
Who knows what difference it would have made but Hani was a real hero to the Black masses (anybody who attended the three days of mourning at FNB Stadium in Soweto as I did, will attest to his popularity) and clearly the major reason why he was assassinated. Hani was the last real talent produced by the generation that was led byOR Tambo.
But it was not to be. Global capital would not permit even the taste of a progressive South Africa to come to pass and instead it got ‘their man’ Thabo Mbeki to replace Mandela. Who knows when the ‘deal’ was done but Mbeki, who studied at Sussex University in the UK spent his time in exile embedded in the ANC’s bureaucracy in Lusaka, Zambia, where he kept a low profile. He concentrated on creating a group of cadres close to him, all of whom traveled with him back to South Africa after the ANC was unbanned, and all went on to occupy key positions in both Mandela’s and Mbeki’s government.
I think what has confused many on the left is that the neoliberals within the ANC didn’t get it all their own way, they had to make compromises, especially over the ANC’s foreign policy. For example, on Palestine, Cuba, the invasion of Iraq, the ANC’s foreign policy retained much of its pre-1994 anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist rhetoric and undoubtedly it was the role the SACP played in shaping the ANC’s foreign policy that was the major reason. (A cynic might say that it’s much easier to be a progressive over issues that are not in your own backyard.)
NUM, AMCU, COSATU, SACP, Marikana and the State
The tragedy at Marikana is the logical outcome of the fundamental contradiction that exists when a powerful trade union such as NUM is allied to a political party, the ANC, that is pursuing neoliberal, anti-working class policies. And in turn, because of overlapping memberships and affiliations, the SACP is also complicit in bending reality to fit a very one-sided ‘alliance’.
This incident, as well as others before it in the recent period, should send a very clear message that there is a sustained attack and offensive against COSATU in particular. The SACP has also correctly warned that where our detractors and enemies sense some divisions amongst our ranks, then they always tend to go on the offensive. It might as well be important that these and other related matters needs to be discussed at the COSATU Congress next month, including frank analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of COSATU affiliates as well as some of the threats facing the federation as a whole. This discussion must not take the form of a lamentation or rhetoric, but must aim at concretely coming up with a programme to defend and strengthen COSATU, within the context of deepening the unity of our Alliance. Such a discussion at COSATU Congress must also concretely explore the possible relationship between, Marikana, the current global capitalist crisis, the further decline in the profitability of capitalism, and a renewed offensive to weaken the working class to defend declining levels of profits. — ‘Our condolences and sympathies to the Marikana and Pomeroy Victims’, Blade Nzimande, SACP General Secretary. Umzibenzi Online, Vol. 11, No. 30, 23 August 2012 (my emph. WB)
There’s none so blind as them that won’t see and while it’s true that giant, transnational mining corps do all they can to exploit the contradictions that exist (that’s what capitalists do), it’s still no excuse to talk of “deepening the unity of our Alliance”, as the SACP puts it, when COSATU is de facto complicit in supporting the ANC’s neoliberal policies and all in the name of preserving an alliance that doesn’t actually exist.
NUM’s rival, AMCU is, to put it mildly, a heady mix of tribalism and personal rivalry fueled by a lot of desperate, hungry miners who feel betrayed by NUM and see radical, even violent confrontation with the mine owners/state as the only way to get the gains they justly deserve.
“AMCU was created in 1998 by Joseph Mathunjwa who left the NUM after he fell out with Gwede Mantashe, then general secretary of the older union [NUM].
“AMCU, which has grown to about a tenth of the size of NUM with 30,000 members nationally, has also attracted its own share of controversy. “Its leaders call themselves devout Christians and say life is sacred,” wrote Reuters recently. “But its supporters march with spears, machetes and clubs and anoint themselves with magic potions to ward off police bullets.” — ‘Turmoil at South Africa’s Platinum Mines‘, by Pratap Chatterjee, Corpwatch Blog, 23 August 2012[1]
Mantashe by the way, is now Jacob Zuma’s right-hand man and Ramaphosa is on the board of mining giant Lonmin at the centre of the massacre, as are some members of the SACP also now big capitalists. The conflicts of interest abound but this not the important aspect as far as I’m concerned, it’s what underpins it, spelt out by the SACP’s ‘analysis’ above. In 1994 everything changed, except it seems the SACP’s interpretation of the post-Apartheid world when the ANC ceased to be part of the liberation movement after it transformed itself into a political party that followed the Western, capitalist model.
But the ANC succeeded in keeping its liberation period partners onboard, partly because it was a party created in the middle of a struggle for state power with the then Nationalist Party, the party of Apartheid (now folded into the ANC). The ANC needed both its alliance partners onboard if it was to win the struggle with the Nats. After all, such was the following that the SACP had in the townships and COSATU-affiliated unions in the workplace, that they could have called out the masses and taken the transformation down an entirely different path had they chosen to.
Instead, believing itself not strong enough to directly overthrow the Apartheid state (at least that was the public rationale), the ANC struck a deal with the Nats. Called the Sunset Clause and authored by Joe Slovo of the SACP, it was meant to be a temporary power-sharing agreement, designed we were told, to stop a bloodbath from occurring, with Slovo arguing that there was no other choice. Not something everyone agreed with, especially the highly-placed ANC official who leaked the document to the South African Mail & Guardian newspaper (else we would probably never had known it existed). It was also the last time there was any, even reluctant, public debate with the ANC on ANC policies.
It’s difficult to see how the SACP can justify its membership of the Alliance all these years. It’s as if the clock stopped in April 1994 and we are left with the bizarre vision of an SACP justifying its alliance with an ANC which practices neoliberal economic policies, on the basis of preserving unity in the face of a threat, but from what? The remains of an Apartheid state machine, long since incorporated into the ANC, or is it the other way around? In a weird way, it’s a kind of Stalinism but without the socialist bit, illustrated by the fact that we have members of the SACP calling some of its opponents on the left “Anarchists”!
The critical question is how could this have happened in 2012, 18 years into our democracy and the centenary commemoration of the ANC’s struggle for social justice and human dignity?
The answer simply is that there has been a massive failure of leadership on all sides. The critical question is why we did not act earlier on this festering dispute that today the nation mourns?
All they see is the obscenity of shocking wealth and the chasm of inequality growing. The platinum mines they toil in, for a pittance, yield a precious metal that makes exorbitant jewellery that adorns the necks of the affluent and catalytic converters for the expensive cars the middle classes drive. The workers live in hovels, in informal squatter camps, surrounded by poverty and without basic services. All they experience is a political arrogance of leaders who more often than not enrich themselves at the expense [of] the people. They are angry and restless. – Can’t you hear the thunder? By Jay Naidoo, former general secretary of COSATU
Marikana is the rest of South Africa waiting to happen and in large measure it is the result of the SACP’s relationship to the ANC. And being in bed with COSATU compromises the SACP’s independence as much as COSATU compromises its members through its relationship with the ANC. It’s a tangled web we weave, part the product of an era now vanished and part the result of Apartheid capitalism’s perverted vision of reality that has created such a complex set of contradictory relationships. But then again, nobody said that making a revolution was easy.
In South Africa unionised labour constitutes about 10% of those with formal jobs, which ain’t saying much, given as how perhaps as much as 40% of the population are employed in the ‘informal economy’ and thus are not counted or represented by COSATU or the SACP. It’s trade unionism that any old time trade unionist in the UK would recognize, that of industrial capitalism complete with its ‘labour aristocracy’ and yet another depressing legacy of a reformist left, only this time in Africa.
Is it any wonder therefore that the workers at Marikana and elsewhere are turning to a rival and more radical union, AMCU, regardless of the fact that I have some reservations about its motives and its tactics. Will NUM respond to the challenge and return to its roots and defend its members? Or is it too compromised by its connections to the ANC government and to the mining corporations?
By not declaring their political independence from the ANC following the 1994 election, both the SACP and COSATU have, for the past eighteen years effectively blocked the development of an independent and progressive voice on the left, which in turn has let the ANC government rule pretty much with impunity when comes to domestic policies. Unity? But at what cost and to what purpose?
1. Chatterjee’s article supplies a lot of detail about the platinum business and the global recession and subsequent drop in demand for platinum that is actually the current catalyst for the ongoing confrontations between the workers and the mining corporations, of which Marikana is the latest and the bloodiest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



Echoes of the Past:
Marikana, Cheap Labour and the 1946 Miners Strike
Chris Webb
On August 4, 1946 over one thousand miners assembled in Market Square in Johannesburg, South Africa. No hall in the town was big enough to hold them, and no one would have rented one to them anyway. The miners were members of the African Mine Worker's Union (AMWU), a non-European union which was formed five years earlier in order to address the 12 to 1 pay differential between white and black mineworkers. The gathering carried forward just one unanimous resolution: African miners would demand a minimum wage of ten shillings (about 1 Rand) per day. If the Transvaal Chamber of Mines did not meet this demand, all African mine workers would embark on a general strike immediately. Workers mounted the platform one after the other to testify: “When I think of how we left our homes in the reserves, our children naked and starving, we have nothing more to say. Every man must agree to strike on 12 August. It is better to die than go back with empty hands.” The progressive Guardian newspaper reported an old miner getting to his feet and addressing his comrades: “We on the mines are dead men already!”[1]

The massacre of 45 people, including 34 miners, at Marikana in the North West province is an inevitable outcome of a system of production and exploitation that has historically treated human life as cheap and disposable. If there is a central core – a stem in relation to which so many other events are branches – that runs through South African history, it is the demand for cheap labourfor South Africa's mines. “There is no industry of the size and prosperity of this that has managed its cheap labour policy so successfully,” wrote Ruth First in reference to the Chamber of Mines ability to pressure the government for policies that displaced Africans from their land and put them under the boot of mining bosses.[2]
Masters and Servants
Mechanisms such as poll and hut taxes, pass laws, Masters and Servants Acts and grinding rural poverty were all integral in ensuring a cheap and uninterrupted supply of labour for the mines. Pass laws were created in order to forge a society in which farm work or mining was the only viable employment options for the black population. And yet the low wages and dangerous work conditions kept many within the country away, forcing the Chamber of Mines to recruit labour from as far afield as Malawi and China throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Sordid deals between Portuguese East Africa and Apartheid South Africa ensured forced labour to be recruited for the mines and by 1929 there were 115,000 Mozambicans working underground. “It has been said,” wrote First in her study of migrant Mozambican miners, “that the wealth of Reef gold mines lies not in the richness of the strike but in the low costs of production kept down by cheap labour.”[3]

When AMWU was formed in 1941 black miners earned 70 Rand a year while white workers received 848 Rand. White miners had been organized for many years, but there was little solidarity between the two groups as evidenced by the 1922 Rand Rebellion led by the whites-only Mine Workers Union. White miners went on strike against management's attempt at weakening the colour bar in order to facilitate the entry of cheaper black labour into skilled positions. Supported by the Communist Party of South Africa under the banner of “Unite and Fight for a White South Africa!” the rebellion was viciously crushed by the state leaving over 200 dead. The growth of non-European unions in the 1940s was dramatic and for the very first time the interests of African mineworkers were on the table. Their demands threatened the very foundations of the cheap labour system, and so in 1944 Prime Minister Jan Smuts tabled the War Measure 1425 preventing a gathering of 20 or more on mine property. Despite these difficulties the union pressed on and in 1946 they approached the Chamber of Mines with their demand for wage increases. A letter calling for last minute negotiations with the Chamber of Mines was, as usual, ignored.

By August 12th tens-of-thousands of black miners were on strike from the East to the West Rand. The state showed the utmost brutality, chasing workers down mineshafts with live ammunition and cracking down on potential sympathy strikes in the city of Johannesburg. By August 16th the state had bludgeoned 100,000 miners back to work and nine lay dead. Throughout the four-day strike hundreds of trade union leaders were arrested, with the central committee of the Communist Party and local ANC leaders arrested and tried for treason and sedition. The violence came on the cusp of the 1948 elections, which would see further repression and the beginning of the country's anti-communist hysteria.

While it did not succeed in its immediate aims, the strike was a watershed moment in South African politics and would forever change the consciousness of the labour movement. Thirty years late Monty Naicker, one of the leading figures in the South African Indian Congress, argued that the strike “transformed African politics overnight. It spelt the end of the compromising, concession-begging tendencies that dominated African politics. The timid opportunism and begging for favours disappeared.”[4] The Native Representative Council, formed by the state in 1937 to address the age old ‘native question,’ disbanded on August 15th and ANC president Dr. A.B. Xuma reiterated the demand for “recognition of African trade unions and adequate wages for African workers including mineworkers.”[5]

The 1946 mineworkers strike was the spark that ignited the anti-apartheid movement. The ANC Youth League's 1949 Program of Action owes much to the militancy of these workers as does the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s and the emergence of the ANC's armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) in the 1960s. It is too early to say what sort of impact the current Lonmin strike will have on South African politics, but it seems unlikely that it will be as transformative as those of the past. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), arguably the heirs to the 1946 strike are currently engaged in a series of territorial disputes with the breakaway Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). Meanwhile COSATU's muted response has echoed the ANC's line of equal-culpability and half-mast public mourning. The increasingly incoherent South African Communist Party has called for the arrest of AMCU leaders with some of its so-called cadres defending the police action. Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's plea for miners to hold the line and form a more militant union reek of political opportunism.

Still Dependant on Cheap and Flexible Labour
What no one has dared to say, aside from the miners themselves, is that the mining industry remains dependant on cheap and flexible labour, much of it continuing to come from neighbouring countries. This has historically been the source of most miner's grievances. A recent Bench Marks Foundation study of platinum mines in the North West province uncovered a number of factors linked to rising worker discontent in the region. Lonmin was singled out as a mine with high levels of fatalities, very poor living conditions for workers and unfulfilled community demands for employment. Perhaps most significant is the fact that almost a third of Lonmin's workforce is employed through third party contractors.[6]This form of employment is not new in the mining industry. In fact, since minerals were discovered in the 19th century labour recruiters have scoured the southern half of the continent for workers. The continued presence of these ‘labour brokers’ on the mines and the ANC's unwillingness to ban them – opting instead for a system of increasing regulation – is the bloody truth of South Africa's so-called ‘regulated flexibility.’

There are a number other findings from the Bench Marks study that are worth mentioning as they illuminate some of the real grievances that have been lost amid photos of waving pangas. The number of fatalities at Lonmin has doubled since January 2011, and the company has consistently ignored community calls for employment, favouring contractors and migrant workers. A visit by the Bench Marks Foundation research team to Marikana revealed:
“A proliferation of shacks and informal settlements, the rapid deterioration of formal infra-structure and housing in Marikana itself, and the fact that a section of the township constructed by Lonmin did not have electricity for more than a month during the time of our last visit. At the RDP Township we found broken down drainage systems spilling directly into the river at three different points.”[7]

In fact, the study predicted further violent protests at Marikana in the coming year. The mass dismissal of 9000 workers in May last year inflamed already tense relations between the community and the mine as dismissed workers lost their homes in the company's housing scheme.

Once again, these facts are hardly new in the world of South African mining. Behind the squalid settlements that surround the mineshafts there are immense profits to be made. In recent years the platinum mining industry has prospered like no other thanks to the increased popularity of platinum jewellery and the use of the metal in vehicle exhaust systems in the United State and European countries. Production increased by 60 per cent between 1980 and 1994, while the price soared almost fivefold. The value of sales, almost all exported, thus increased to almost 12 per cent of total sales by the mining industry. The price rose so dramatically throughout the 1990s that it is on par with gold as the country's leading mineral export.[8]South Africa's platinum industry is the largest in the world and in 2011 reported total revenues of $13.3-billion, which is expected to increase by 15.8% over the next five years. Lonmin itself is one of the largest producers of platinum in the world, and the bulk of its tonnage comes from the Marikana mine. The company recorded revenues of $1.9-billion in 2011, an increase of 25.7%, the majority of which would come from the Marikana shafts.[9]

For risking mutilation and death underground workers at Marikana made only 4000 Rand, or $480 a month. As one miner told South Africa's Mail and Guardian newspaper that, “It's better to die than to work for that shit ... I am not going to stop striking. We are going to protest until we get what we want. They have said nothing to us. Police can try and kill us but we won't move.” These expressions of frustration and anger could be from 1922, 1946 or today. They are scathing indictments of an industry that continues to treat its workers as disposable and a state that upholds apartheid's cheap labour policies.

Chris Webb is a postgraduate student at York University, Toronto where he is researching labour restructuring in South African agriculture. He can be reached at

1. Monty Naicker, “The African Miners Strike of 1946,” 1976.
2. Ruth First, “The Gold of Migrant Labour,” Spearhead, 1962.
3. Ruth First, “The Gold of Migrant Labour,” Spearhead, 1962.
4. Monty Naicker, “The African Miners Strike of 1946,” 1976.
5. Dr. A.B. Xuma quoted in Monty Naicker, “The African Miners Strike of 1946.”
6. The Bench Marks Foundation, “Communities in the Platinum Minefields,” 2012.
7. The Bench Marks Foundation, “Communities in the Platinum Minefields,” 2012.
8. Charles Feinstein, An Economic History of South Africa, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, 211.
9. Marketline Advantage Reports on South Africa's Platinum Group Metals, 2011.


From: Petrus Potgieter <>
Date: 2012/8/22
Subject: "Echoes of the past"

I tried to publish the following comment at the end of your article but failed:


"These expressions of frustration and anger could be from 1922, 1946 or today. They are scathing indictments of an industry that continues to treat its workers as disposable and a state that upholds apartheid's cheap labour policies."

1922 and 1946 were BEFORE the apartheid National Party was in government and TODAY that shining champion-of-human-rights ANC has been in government for nearly the last 20 years -- almost HALF the time that the racist Nationalists were in charge.

The Nationalist government upheld the Jewish-owned mining corporations' cheap apartheid labour policies - that was their greatest mistake.

Rather have a look here:


Is Naspers-voetewassers, NUM, Ramaphosa en Solidariteit kop in een mus?

Skoppensboer is elke dag meer verbaas oor die Suid-Afrikaanse heersersklas se vermoë om homself te handhaaf.
Die voetewassers van Die Burger en Beeld wat elke dag nog krokodiltrane oor Sharpeville of Soweto huil, vind dit normaal dat die ANC se polisie goedsmoeds 34 swart mynwerkers afmaai en 78 ander beseer.
Soos PRAAG elders op hierdie blad berig, het die mynhuise mos ‘n groot rol gespeel om die ANC in Suid-Afrika aan bewind te bring, met Consolidated Goldfields wat destyds die ontmoeting tussen Mbeki en Willie Esterhuyse gereël het. Ook het Gavin Relly van Anglo mos die ANC in Lusaka gaan besoek om nog meer glans aan die organisasie te verleen. Kort ná 1994 het Anglogold se Bobby Godsell letterlik die gebruik van Afrikaans in sy myne of kantore verbied.
Skoppensboer se opgeskote seun roep nou die dag uit terwyl ons op pad skool toe na RSG se Monitor luister: “Ons bly nou in net nog ‘n Afrikaland. Dis nie meer Pretoria nie, dis Mogadisjoe!”
As die AK47 of die R5 praat, dan luister ons mos. Nie waar nie?
Ons is terug in die negentiende eeu en daar word ‘n vorm van plantasieslawerny vanuit Londen bedryf wat die myne saam met die regerende party beheer. Cyril Ramaphosa verdien waarskynlik tussen R50 en R100 miljoen per maand uit “arbeidsverskaffing” by Lonmin Marikana. Hy wil nie sien dat ‘n alternatiewe vakbond sy “kommissie” bedreig nie.
Skoppensboer merk op dat Cyril sommer oral ‘n paar “fooitjies” verdien, ook by ‘n multinasionale maatskappy soos McDonalds. Dink daaraan as u u volgende Big Mac bestel. ‘n Paar sent belasting beland nou in Big Cyril se beursie.
Naspers beaam alles wat Ramaphosa en sy NUM sê en vaar uit teen die alternatiewe vakbond wat “geweld aanstig”. Alla wêreld! Asof Nathi Mthethwa om dowe neute ‘n week of twee gelede “om menslikheidsredes” rubberkoeëls verbied het... Yebo, Nathi. Skerppuntammunisie is baie meer “menslik”. En die myners kry seker ook die boodskap as hulle nie aan NUM wil behoort nie, sal daar korte mette van hulle gemaak word. Nogal op “Wonderkop”.
Solidariteit se woordvoerder beaam alles wat die koninklike Cyril sê en meen dat die rotsbrekers eintlik “goed betaal” word, selfs sonder hul bonusse. Die groot vraag is: behoort Solidariteit nie ook, soos die NUM, aan Cosatu nie? Skoppensboer herinner hom dat Dirk Hermann en sy manne ‘n paar jaar gelede onder groot toejuiging by ‘n Cosatu-kongres opgedaag het.
Soos dit vir Skoppensboer lyk, het almal ‘n gevestigde belang om die huidige rampokkerstaat en sy roofmynbou te bestendig: die ANC en sy tenderpreneurs en SEB-miljardêrs soos Ramaphosa, uiteraard. Maar ook die voetewassers van Naspers/Media24 want hulle kry ook hier en daar ‘n aalmoes en bewierook die arme Afrikaners wat reeds ‘n aansienlike deel van hul maandelikse inkomste aan DSTV se sportprogramme afstaan. Wat noem hulle dit? Supersport.
Af en toe in Mogadisjoe as die krygshere se koeëls klap, word die Supersport onderbreek deur Superbloedsport. Maar daarna kyk ons weer rugby en krieket.
Terwyl die tenderpreneurs geld maak uit regstellende aksie, stimuleer dit weer al die blankes by groot maatskappye en staatsinstellings om by Solidariteit aan te sluit. Al die wit voetewassers wat so vir hul swart base glimlag, het “beskerming” nodig. Regsdienste, advies, sulke goed. Dis versekering teen die eventuele diskriminasie. Noem dit “beskermingsgeld” vir ‘n voetewasser. As rassevoorkeure en diskriminasie teen wittes môre afgeskaf word, stort Solidariteit se lidmaatskap in duie. Dit spreek vanself dat dié Pretoriase vakbond óók weet aan watter kant sy brood gebotter is. Daarom volg hy die stroom, die ANC-NUM-Cyril-Naspers-voetewasser-stroom!
Toe daardie Ingelsman van Lonmin op die TV sê dis apartheid wat sy mynwerkers in sulke haglike omstandighede laat bly, toe wonder Skoppensboer of daar ‘n haan oor dáárdie stelling gaan kraai. Of sommer net ‘n kapokhoender iewers kekkel. Ons weet mos nou - ook danksy “die media” - dat Eugene Terre’Blanche ‘n moffie was. Hane is al meer yl gesaai. Ons het nou net hoenders. Skoppensboer het so gehoop ‘n kapokhoendertjie kloek net so saggies oor die Lonmin-lord se apartheidstelling.
Toe nie. Ons bly mos lekker in Voetewasserland.