Mister Speaker and Honourable Members,
May the souls of the mineworkers, who lost their lives at the Marikana massacre last week, rest in peace. To their families and friends, our hearts and prayers are with you during this time of grief.
Honourable Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa,
I differ completely with the tactics SAPS used to disarm and disperse striking Lonmin Mine mineworkers. Firstly, the police surrounded the place the mineworkers had occupied with razor wire and only left one exit.
Strangely, this one and only available exit point was where the heavily armed police contingent had gathered to oversee what was supposed to be a peaceful dispersal of the gathering. Secondly, your SAPS members then fired teargas at the workers forcing them to run all over the place looking for an exit point.
However, as some were running towards the exit, we are told that, the police fired at them with live ammunition. The police accused the workers of advancing towards them with intentions to attack them, when it appears that the workers were only seeking a place of safety. According to the workers’ version of events, this is what led to the brutal murder of thirty four mineworkers in Marikana last week.
This makes one wonder whether a plan to ambush the workers had not been carefully crafted. Because by running towards the exit the workers seemed to have walked right into a police trap.
Sadly, however, Markina massacre-type incidents are here to stay, unless we do away with the deployment of people with no professional police background to senior SAPS levels to command juniors with military training.
Perhaps, it is time for this House to review the mechanism of civilian oversight in SAPS. Should we not confine civilian oversight to the office of the Minister and let experienced police personnel run SAPS?
Another area of concern is that the proximity of certain trade unions to the ruling party and the deployments of ruling party senior individuals to the private sector have compromised the Lonmin Mine workers. For example, just a few hours before the Marikana shoot-out, NUM, the police and Lonmin reportedly held a meeting to discuss the situation without involving Amcu.
We should not lose sight of the fact that both NUM and Amcu workers have one thing in common. They demand a salary adjustment.
This House should, therefore, closely monitor these salary negotiations given the questionable involvement of the police in this labour dispute.
Most shocking during the visit of parliamentary opposition parties to Marikana was the extent of poverty in which the mineworkers live. It is ironic to see that the people responsible for extracting our Country’s mineral wealth live in conditions of squalor.
We call on Lonmin Mine’s BEE partners to approach their partners in the UK to do something about the plight of their mineworkers. What we saw there yesterday is completely unacceptable, especially when considering the fact that some of Lonmin’s BEE partners have impeccable struggle credentials.
The UDM supports President Zuma’s decision to institute a commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre. We, however, believe that it should be a judicial commission one.
The terms of reference for the commission should be broad enough to allow for investigation into investment schemes that trade unions offer mineworkers, among other things.
Workers complain about monthly deductions from their salaries to pay for investment schemes that never yield any returns for them. The question is: who really benefits from them?
We also need to investigate the extent to which the involvement of some trade union investment arms in the ownership and control of the same mines, compromises worker struggles.
Akuhlanga lungehlanga. Tutwini!