Marikana was a product of capitalism

The rocky outcrop at Marikana where 34 miners were gunned down by police in August 2012. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu / African News Agency (ANA)

The strike had been taking place for a week – too long for the faceless men who sent a command to the police to end the strike and halt the slide in profits.

Today marks seven years since the brutal killings of 34 mineworkers by the South African Police Service, aka the Marikana massacre.

It was August 16, 2012, when police officers were the mediator between hundreds of disgruntled mineworkers and Lonmin mine bosses. The strike had been taking place for a week – too long according to the faceless men who sent a command to the police to end the strike and halt the slide in profits.

The police were commanded to open fire with live rounds on the striking mine workers, leaving hundreds of families in emotional and financial distress due to the loss of their loved ones.

Police members who committed the act left with regret but those who sent the command felt nothing because they never held the gun.

Before this event, I never used to understand the sentiment of “it’s nothing personal but just business”.

My rational self questioned whether the business was operated by humans or robots. I failed to comprehend how one could separate a person from unfair, exploiting business dealings and blame it on “business”.

This was before I could understand the rules that govern capitalism, which clearly state that it is business/profits before people. Any decision taken under this system has to benefit the business first.

After understanding the sentiment of capitalists, I have a better understanding of why the Marikana miners were killed.

Set aside the pathetic justification of spin doctors stating that the police officers opened fire in self defence from “violent workers”.

Live television visuals portrayed a different story. The mineworkers were killed because the capitalists thought the week-long strike was too much, given the fact that capitalists control the political elite. They used their power to enforce their will.

Remember the clichéd quote “money does not buy everything”? Well, in this case it did.

The Marikana massacre was the by-products of the capitalistic system which destroys everything that seems to be a threat to profit margins, even human life. In such instances one may ask, “where is ubuntu?” – a principle that South Africans pride themselves on.

One thing one has to understand is that capitalism endorses popular culture which trivialises tradition, in this case ubuntu.

Popular culture is a commercially fabricated way of living that is regarded as mightier than others. It is the one that is celebrated and gives us “celebrities” – beings to look up to because they live a lifestyle that indirectly undermines and eventually trivialises all other cultures.

The celebrated culture endorses individualism. That is why you see the singling out of certain individuals from society for celebration. The problem with individualism is narcissism becomes present in one’s character, leading to one being a selfish being.

Just like the Marikana issue, the people who sent commands were thinking about profits, themselves and never the lives of the miners and their families.

The system affects one’s character and any decision taken by a capitalist is bound to benefit only them.

Sinesipho Schrieber

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today in print

today in print