I, and most people in the anti-apartheid movement in New Zealand, took part in the boycott campaigns not to simply change the colour of the faces of those who ruled South Africa. We didn’t face batons and barbed wire to replace race-based apartheid with economic apartheid. Our intention wasn’t to stop the apartheid gravy train for the wealthy just long enough for a tiny number of the black elite to jump on.
John Minto recently made public his correspondence with the organisers of a conference happening in Wellington this weekend celebrating NZ’s role in the struggle against apartheid. How tragically immediate these words are!
Police in South Africa have massacred over 30 striking miners in the Marikana platinum mine, one of the most violent attacks on labour since the end of apartheid, and a horrific act reminiscent of the Apartheid state’s brutalities at the 1960 Sharpville massacre in the Gauteng (Transvaal).
Amandla, a radical magazine in South Africa, call this "a brutal tragedy that should never have happened," and editoralise:
No event since the end of Apartheid sums up the shallowness of the transformation in this country like the Marikana massacre. What occurred will be debated for years. It is already clear the mineworkers will be blamed for being violent. The mineworkers will be painted as savages. Yet, the fact is that heavily armed police with live ammunition brutally shot and killed over 35 mineworkers. Many more are injured. Some will die of their wounds. Another 10 workers had been killed just prior to this massacre.
This was not the action of rogue cops. This massacre was a result of decisions taken at the top of the police structures. The police had promised to respond with force and came armed with live ammunition. They behaved no better than the Apartheid police when facing the Sharpeville, 1976 Soweto uprisings and 1980s protests where many of our people were killed.
The aggressive and violent response to community service delivery protests by the police have their echo and reverberation in this massacre.
This represents a blood-stain on the new South Africa.
Media coverage has stressed the complexity of the inter-union rivalries, but the involvement of the police – and the shooting down of striking workers – makes it clear what is involved. “The Marikana action is a strike by the poor against the state and the haves”, argues Justice Malala.
The old slogans from the anti-apartheid struggle have a new relevance. Once again, we say “Solidarity with South African labour!”
***Striking South African mineworkers were gunned down by police on Thursday. Charlie Kimber looks at events leading up to the massacre—and the business interests behind it
Police in South Africa have opened fire at striking workers at the Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg, leaving at least 18 people dead. Ten people have died over the last few days in other clashes.
This disgusting slaughter evoked memories of how the police acted during apartheid. All the hope at the end of that vile racist regime has come to this.
The recently appointed police chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega visited the mine a few days ago and she is believed to have coordinated Thursday’s action.
But the decision by the heavily armed police to use live rounds must have been endorsed at the highest level—perhaps even by the ANC’s President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma said he regretted the killings. But disgracefully he made no reference to the handling of the situation by the police.
There must be justice for the strikers killed at Marikana—and those who ordered the deaths must pay for them...
[Read the full background story and analysis from Charlie Kimber at Socialist Worker]