Answering a question from EFF’s Floyd Shivambu, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told MPs he was prepared to go to Marikana in the North West and apologise to the widows and relatives of the slain workers.
As expected, Shivambu’s question caused drama in the House, with speaker Baleka Mbete echoing an ANC MP’s point of order that the EFF MP could not say the ruling party killed people in Marikana
Shivambu reminded Mbete a Western Cape High Court ruling legitimated the usage of the expression in the House, and parliament itself never appealed that ruling. Mbete allowed Shivambu to proceed with his question to the deputy president, as she needed to consult the Hansard first.
Ramaphosa then explained to the National Assembly that when he “addressed students at Rhodes [University], one of the young students later came to me and asked me what my conscience was telling me”.
He said after he answered, the student said: “Thank you very much, you have clarified the matter to me because I am the one who asked it.” Ramaphosa said the student also apologised to him and said: “I am sorry if I embarrassed you,” and he replied: “I was not [embarrassed] as a leader, you were asking me to account.”
The deputy president then addressed Shivambu’s question directly.
“What did I apologise for? I apologised for inappropriate and unfortunate language. The intervention I was seeking was to try and stop further killings. For me, this was sparked off by the killing of the 10 people who had died earlier. The killing had happened in the most cruel manner. Some were police, and many were miners. I have been in mine for nine years when I was asked to form a union even though I was not a miner.”
Mbete had to order the House to cease the round of applause already growing from ANC benches.
“I could not have mine workers or anyone being killed. As a leader, I take counsel with what other leaders say. Mama Winnie Mandela said I want to take you to Marikana. She said this publicly. She said she will lead me in this process. I will take counsel from her and meet the widows of the 44 miners who were killed.”
Ramaphosa also told parliament: “As soon as I made that statement in the Eastern Cape, a number of reverends approached me and told me some of us come from the areas where the murdered people come from. We would like to go with you. It is just a matter of when it is going to happen. As a leader, I am prepared to be confronted and accountable,” he said.