The big elephant called the ANC is being eaten piece by piece, EFF leader Julius Malema said on Tuesday afternoon. Addressing thousands of Marikana residents who converged at an open space next to the infamous Koppie to commemorate the 34 Lonmin mineworkers who were shot and killed by police officers in 2012, Malema vowed that the ruling party would never govern the Rustenburg Local Municipality.
“The power is in the hands of the people now,” Malema, who was given a heroes’ welcome, said. Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said a strong workers’ federation was needed to fight for workers.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said government needed to come and apologise in person to Marikana workers and residents, and to explain who gave an order to the police to shoot and kill innocent mineworkers. Tuesday marked exactly four years since the Marikana massacre shocked the nation. Opposition parties also slammed government for not attending the commemoration event, adding it was still feeling guilty for the tragic 2012 event that happened under its leadership.
Amcu’s Jimmy Gama said their leader Jospeh Mathunjwa needed to be praised for his role played in the fight for mineworkers.
One of the reasons government has not hosted a commemorative event in honour of the fallen Marikana mineworkers is because it is still feeling guilty.
This is according to former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa. Vavi and Holomisa are among the politicians attending the fourth Marikana commemoration on Tuesday.
Speaking to The Citizen shortly after his arrival, Vavi said August 16 was equally important to Sharpeville and Langa, where many people were gunned down by apartheid police.
“I don’t know why government is not taking part in the commemoration event, but I think they are still feeling guilty about the events of 2012.
“However, I am here for the first time and the importance of this day is for all of us to pay respect to those mineworkers who died fighting for a living wage,” Vavi said.
Holomisa echoed Vavi’s sentiments, saying government officials were not attending or hosting commemorative events due to the fact that mineworkers died under their watch while fighting for their rights.
“The other reason is the fact that one of their alliance unions, NUM, lost a lot of members to a new union in Amcu, but we are here today to remember those fallen heroes,” Holomisa said.
Also at the commemoration was DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
August 16 remains a painful day to remember for many South Africans, particularly mineworkers from Marikana, according to Bishop Jo Seoka, one of the most prominent figures who was visible during the days leading up to the Marikana massacre in 2012, where 34 workers were shot and killed by police officers next to the infamous koppie.
Speaking to The Citizen on Tuesday morning ahead of the commemoration, Bishop Seoka said while this day brought back a lot of sad memories, he was happy to see many people consoling one another through celebrating the day instead of mourning.
“Yes, a lot of work still needs to be done by government in terms of developing the area and improving the living conditions of mineworkers.
“I still remember getting calls on this day in 2012 from some of the mineworkers who were asking me, ‘Bishop, where are you? We are being killed’,” Seoka said.
Meanwhile, mineworkers could on Tuesday morning be seen seated at the koppie where the massacre of 2012, which made international headlines, occurred. A cultural programme is under way, and speakers from different political parties are expected to deliver speeches while the president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), Joseph Mathunjwa, is expected to deliver the keynote address.