THE MARIKANA massacre of mineworkers in South Africa one year ago, in which 34 miners were murdered by the police and hundreds injured, has changed South Africa for ever.
The massacre was carried out with the authority of the South African government and was supported by the NUM trade union, whose leaders sat on the boards of the mining companies and opposed the strike action that was taking place.
The founder of the NUM, Cyril Ramaphosa, on 15 August 2012 called for action against striking Lonmin platinum miners engaged in ‘dastardly criminal’ conduct.
Ramaphosa, a former liberation fighter, is now a billionaire capitalist, one of the richest men in Africa and deputy president of the ANC, as well as being on the board of Lonmin.
The strike was led by the AMCU trade union, whose leaders are not allowed to sit on the boards of companies. In fact, since the strike and the massacre, miners have flocked out of the NUM and into the AMCU.
Two days before yesterday’s one-year commemoration, the mine owners Lonmin felt compelled to recognise the AMCU, which led the wage strike, as its official majority union.
AMCU now represents 70% of Lonmin’s 27,000 employees, and the NUM now only has 20% of the membership.
Meanwhile, the Farlam commission, the inquiry President Zuma set up to probe the Marikana killings, is being sabotaged. Lawyers representing wounded workers and their families have been refused legal aid by the government to represent the victims, the survivors and their families. This sabotage is only serving to increase the popular anger.
The ANC government is now known as the government that has refused to raise the living standards of the black masses for almost two decades, while pandering to the rich.
COSATU (the Congress of South African Trade Unions) and the Stalinist South African Communist Party, on which the ANC rests, have also earned the hostility of the black masses, especially the youth.
The corpses were hardly cold in Marikana before they lined up to lay the blame for the massacre firmly at the door of the AMCU.
The secretary of the NUM, Frans Baleni, a strident critic of the nationalisation of the mines, told the New York Times just after the massacre: ‘The police were patient but these people were extremely armed with dangerous weapons.’
History has now caught up with these people who, as soon as apartheid was brought down after the release of Mandela, formed an ANC government that kept the ruling class in power. The black middle class found its place in the sun running capitalism in South Africa for the bankers and bosses while the working class, the rural poor, and the youth remained the slaves of capital.
Politically, the ANC rapidly became the party of the South African bosses while the Cosatu union leaders joined the boards of the companies to help police the workers, and the Communist Party provided the political cover for the whole operation.
The Marikana massacre was the ANC’s Sharpeville. It spelt the beginning of the end for these political servants of the capitalists.
The working class and the youth now understand that the ANC opted to be the bourgeois party of capital and for almost 20 years kept the working class working for a pittance, living in shanty towns without any amenities, and sending its children to dilapidated schools while the Ramaphosas made their millions, and the bankers rejoiced at their good fortune.
Now the South African revolution is driving forward to a new stage in its development. This is where the working class, in alliance with the rural poor, will organise a socialist revolution to expropriate the bosses and bankers and hand over the land to the rural poor.
This revolutionary action will require a truly revolutionary leadership. This is why the South African section of the Fourth International must be built up without any delay.
The South African socialist revolution will be a major part of the world socialist revolution. It will inspire the workers of Africa, North, South, East and West to also take the revolutionary road and replace bankrupt capitalism with socialism, forming a Socialist United States of Africa.