Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa
Photo by: Reuters
Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is prepared to meet the widows of the 44 people who died at Marikana.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chief whip Floyd Shivambu awoke the National Assembly from its slumber on Thursday afternoon while Ramaphosa was answering questions by asking him what he meant with his apology about Marikana this past weekend at an event in the Eastern Cape.
Speaker Baleka Mbete seemed reluctant to allow Shivambu's question, but Ramaphosa didn't shy away from answering, unlike when he was asked about the so-called Spy Report.
Ramaphosa said he was asked a question about Marikana by a student, and afterwards, the student said to him that the intention wasn't to embarrass Ramaphosa.
"I didn't find it embarrassing. As a public servant and leader, I know I must be accountable," Ramaphosa said.
"I apologised for the language I used. Yes, I used unfortunate language," Ramaphosa said.
In the aftermath of the Marikana massacre, it emerged that Ramaphosa, then a non-executive director at Lonmin - the employer of the striking mineworkers, sent an email to Lonmin managers calling for "concomitant action".
This happened before the police opened fire on striking mineworkers, killing 34.
Ramaphosa told the National Assembly, to applause from the African National Congress (ANC) benches, he sent this email in an effort to prevent further killings, as mineworkers had already been killed in a "most gruesome" way.
"I served mineworkers for nine years," said Ramaphosa, who was the first secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers' secretary in the 1980s.
"It could never be that I would want mineworkers killed or anyone for that matter."
He repeated that he is willing to take advice from other leaders, notably "Mama Winnie" (Madikizela-Mandela), who asked him to visit Marikana with her.
"I'm prepared to meet the widows of those workers who were killed, the widows of the 44 killed," said Ramaphosa.
"As a leader, I'm prepared to be accountable," he concluded, amid applause from the ANC, while the EFF sat sullen and quiet.