President Cyril Ramaphosa has today directly addressed accusations that he is partly responsible for the shooting of striking miners at Marikana five years ago, saying he would make good in any way he could.
“I am determined to play whatever role I can, and in this I am guided by the wishes of the community,” he said in his reply to his maiden State of the Nation address.
It was the first time Ramaphosa had raised the issue in Parliament, though he has apologised in public before for his role, which was strongly criticised by the Farlam commission of inquiry into the massacre. He did so five days after he was sworn in as president after the ruling ANC forced Jacob Zuma out of office.
He was non-executive 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 ten people had already been killed and he was trying to prevent further bloodshed.
Ramaphosa has repeatedly been lambasted by the Economic Freedom Fighters for his stance during the strike, with the party’s MPs saying he had blood on his hands.
Its leaders have however taken a conciliatory stance since he replaced Zuma, saying they were prepared to “give him a chance”.