DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, calling on him to declare an official Marikana memorial day.
The DA leader released a statement on Wednesday morning, noting that tomorrow, Thursday August 16, will be the anniversary of the Marikana tragedy.
Maimane’s call for the president to acknowledge the tragedy is significant, as Ramaphosa had a “direct” and controversial role in it.
Ramaphosa was nonexecutive director at Lonmin’s platinum mines at the time of a protracted strike, and wrote a series of emails in which he called for stronger action to bring it to an end.
On the eve of the shooting, Ramaphosa said in an email discussion between Lonmin and government officials that incidents of violence around the strike were “plainly dastardly criminal acts and must be characterised as such”.
He later sought to qualify that by saying that at the time of writing, 10 people had already been killed and he was trying to prevent further bloodshed.
READ MORE: Ramaphosa ‘wants to make good’ on Marikana
Maimane in his statement challenges the president to do better, when it comes to acknowledging the tragedy, than former president Jacob Zuma, who he says he made similar calls to, but they “fell on deaf ears”.
He also mentioned a speech in February in which Ramaphosa committed to “play whatever role” he could to “make good” on bringing about closure and making up for his role in the tragedy. If Ramaphosa’s words were sincere, said Maimane, he would heed the DA’s call for a Marikana Memorial Day to officially be declared.
The leader of the opposition said if the Ramaphosa administration wanted to sell itself as offering a “New Dawn”, then honouring those who died at Marikana “need not be a difficult decision” for the presidency.
He also accused the ANC of trying to buy their way out of accountability for the tragedy.
“Healing wounds means more than last month’s R100-million settlement offer by the ANC government to families of the victims for general damages. Closure cannot be bought,” he said.
The Marikana tragedy saw 34 mineworkers’ lives taken by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
A campaign for an award-winning documentary about the tragedy, Miners Shot Down, to be rebroadcast on state-owned SABC, recently accused the broadcaster of trying to cover up the tragedy and of pro-ANC bias.
The SABC changed the scheduling of the documentary, bringing it forward by a week and placing it at a later time slot, causing the campaign led by the Amandla.mobi group to cry foul, accusing the broadcaster of trying to protect the president.