The Democratic Left Front welcomes the withdrawal of the bizarre and ludicrous charges of common purpose to murder 34 of their own comrades against the 270 arrested Marikana workers. This was the result of a massive public outcry over the weekend against the National Prosecution Authority.
But this is by no means enough. We demand not only the immediate release but the dropping of all charges against these workers. We demand the immediate suspension and arrest, and investigation of murder charges against, all police involved in the massacre, and the suspension of all involved in the torture and beating of those workers arrested. We demand an end to police harassment and intimidation of striking Marikana workers and communities.
We demand the resignation of Nomqcobo Jiba, Acting Director of the NPA and of Johan Smit, the chief prosecutor of the NPA in North-West province. The Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega should also step down for their responsibility in the sanctioning of maximum force and openly siding with Lonmin to end the strike. All these have compromised and disgraced themselves by supporting the decision to charge the workers with murder.
Underlying this decision was the political strategy of the government and of the leadership of the African National Congress – to try to demonise the victims of the Lonmin/Marikana massacre and excuse themselves and their masters, the mining capitalists. We condemn this strategy. The responsibility for the massacre lies squarely with the Lonmin bosses and with the ANC government.
The decision to lay the charges, and then, two days later, to drop them, reveals the existing chaos in the ANC leadership and state. In the lead-up to the Mangaung conference, different factions are vying for position, without care for the welfare or interests of working people, employed, unemployed, women or men, old or young. President Zuma and his government have exposed the superficial commitment of the state and ANC to advancing a society with a working class bias.
We support the struggle of the workers at Lonmin, and all workers in the mining industry, in their demand for a living wage of R12, 500 a month. We embrace the clear and uncompromising position of the National Union of Metal Workers in condemning the Marikana Massacre and the charges laid against the workers. This further strengthens the calls being made by progressive civil society, including the Marikana Campaign. Most importantly we agree with NUMSA on the need for working class unity.
We believe the massacre, and the vicious charges leveled against those arrested, threatens the right to strike which is a fundamental democratic right. We reaffirm the right of workers to strike and affirm that no strike is illegal – at present there are merely what are called “protected” and “unprotected “ strikes.
We call on all South Africans to stand in solidarity with the Marikana Workers and Communities by supporting September 8th as a Day of Action.