DEMANDS are growing for President Jacob Zuma to release the Marikana report, with 300 wounded and arrested miners now threatening to take him to court to force him to make it public.
The Farlam Commission of Inquiry, headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, was launched to investigate the killings of 34 miners at Lonmin mine in August 2012.
The commission handed over its report to Zuma earlier this year. Mineworkers say the decision not to release the report has violated rights such as life, dignity and freedom and have sent a letter to the Presidency tabling four main issues.
The Marikana Support Campaign’s Rehad Desai, says the release of the report is important for transparency. ‘It’s in the public interest to release the report to ensure accountability and transparency.’
Mining unions, including the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union which was at the forefront of the strike, have demanded that the report be released in 48 hours. The report outlines several recommendations after the commission heard testimony from 50 witnesses about the violence and deaths at the North West platinum mine in 2012.
Since then, pressure has been steadily mounting on Zuma with calls from unions, rights organisations and opposition parties to make the inquiry’s findings public.
Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces, Zuma refused to be drawn on speculation about what is contained in the report. He said: ‘I have said, I have received the report, I am looking at the report and the recommendations. I am not talking about loose talk in the streets; I am talking about a report from a commission.’
Lawyers representing the wounded and arrested Marikana miners were expected to file papers in court on Monday against Zuma for not releasing the Farlam Commission of Inquiry’s findings.
The miners had given Zuma until 2pm on Sunday to indicate whether or not he would release the report in 48 hours and his office apparently failed to meet this deadline.
Lawyers representing the Marikana miners were approaching the court on an urgent basis to compel Zuma to release the report by the end of May. In the past two weeks, unions, political leaders and other prominent figures have come forward saying Zuma must make the report public sooner rather than later.
Zuma has only indicated that he will release the report in ‘due course’ as he is still applying his mind to it and considering some of the very serious recommendations.
The miners say his noncommittal statements and the long delay have forced them to take the matter to court as they don’t want anyone implicated in the report to be let off the hook, especially the North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo, whose proposed retirement date is at the end of May.
Recently Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema also indicated that they want Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to be considered for prosecution.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) in KwaZulu-Natal reported on Saturday that it has scored a major Constitutional Court victory against Japanese-owned car manufacturer – Toyota.
In September 2010, Toyota had brought impromptu disciplinary charges against Philani Ziqubu, and he was subsequently dismissed from his employment. The union (NUMSA) successfully challenged the dismissal of Ziqubu.
His case went to Arbitration and the union won the case. Toyota was forced to reinstate Ziqubu, but instead of reinstatement Toyota took the matter for Review, which was dismissed by the Appeals Court. A week ago Toyota, took Ziqubu’ s case to the Constitutional Court, and through this process the union scored a groundbreaking victory, when 10 judges ruled in favour of Numsa and Ziqubu, by dismissing Toyota’s case with costs.
Toyota was instructed by the Constitutional Court to reinstate Ziqubu. NUMSA said in a statement: ‘We are thrilled and excited by the Constitutional Court ruling. This victory has reaffirmed NUMSA’s superiority as a true representative of exploited Metalworkers and a genuine opponent of unfair dismissals of workers by greedy employers.
‘Furthermore, the Constitutional Court outcome has buried the spurious lies being spread by a “shelf union” that NUMSA has abandoned its historical mandate as a trade union to defend and advance the interests of workers on the shopfloor.
‘This great union of Vuyisile Mini; Jabulile Ndlovu; Mtutuzeli Tom and others will never desert its members on a silver platter to the bosses, if needs be, we will perish with our members in the trenches. For over 28 years, we have built this union to be a fighting weapon of worker’s; this union shall never be in the pockets of the bosses and lying politicians.
‘NUMSA, as a worker-controlled, democratic and transparent trade union, we will continue to service our members, and we shall forever defend them against unfair dismissals by the greedy bosses, who have become arrogant and big-headed, amidst the triple crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequalities, in modern day class divided South Africa.
‘No single worker shall be dismissed unfairly without any fight by the union. We call on the employers, especially in sectors where we organise, to stop harassing and dismissing workers unfairly.
‘Lastly, we call on workers, those unorganised or un-unionised to join their true trade union home – NUMSA – in order to improve their conditions of employment and earn decent wages. It is when workers are organised as a powerful force that they can fight against exploitation and inferior wages at the shop floor. It is within this context that as NUMSA, we fully agree with the call made by COSATU’s General Secretary cde Zwelinzima Vavi – Don’t mourn! Mobilise!
‘It is now high time that workers unite beyond the colours of their t-shirts or clothes, but unite with other workers to fight for decent wages; an end to mass retrenchments; poor service delivery; and loadshedding.
‘Mr Ziqubu’s union and its entire membership at Toyota welcome him back on the production line.
‘May Mr Ziqubu’s case victory inspire other workers facing similar cases not to be despondent, but remain strong as the union continues to deliver quality service in line with the Service Charter, as adopted at our Special National Congress (SNC).’
NUMSA has also stated that it fully supports MTN strike that began on Wednesday, 20 May 2015, led by militant fighters and class orientated allies – the Communications Workers Union (CWU).
NUMSA said: ‘We are emboldened by the huge and massive turn-out of workers in support of their wage demands and trade union rights. The strike is taking place against the backdrop of massive and highly racialised income inequalities, post the 1994 negotiated political settlement. The workers at MTN in particular and ICT sector broadly are now fully aware of the huge profits their employers make – a fact reflected by obscene salaries, bonuses and executive perks they rake in, whilst workers struggle to survive on poverty wages with rapidly rising cost of living in a class divided South Africa.
‘The ongoing strike is a catastrophic result of the colonial and Apartheid wage dispensation that the fading African National Congress (ANC) government has spectacularly failed to overhaul after assuming power 20 years ago. This wage dispensation and post-apartheid economic edifice continues to benefit White monopoly capital while the workers’ share of the national income continues to decline.
‘The workers are demanding their share of the profits, in the absence of a legislated National Minimum Wage, which was dangled in the eyes of workers under the guise of an ideological fog of “a good story to tell”, during the 2014 national elections. The highly racialised exploitation and poverty wages continue to be the order of the day at MTN, with ordinary workers earning less than R3 000pm.
‘This is against the super remuneration package to MTN’s Chief Executive. The 10% wage demand will partially elevate the living standard of these workers, since they are faced with the socio-economic burden of taking care of the vast army of the unemployed and elderly ravaged by poverty and squalor, in working class and poor households in our Apartheid created Townships and rural slums.
‘We condemn the quasi-Nazi propaganda used by MTN to deflect the general public on the underlying reasons that has led to the current strike. The strike takes place after failed collective bargaining negotiations between MTN and CWU.
‘Therefore, MTN executives must hang their heads in shame for publicly propagating the lie that they do not have recognition agreement with CWU. This clearly is an attack on worker’s hard won right to freedom of association and joining trade unions of their choice. This right was achieved after serious struggles, with some workers sacrificing their jobs and lives for this right to exist.
‘We reject the calls made by self-anointed spokespersons of capital and liberal economic commentators for workers to accept 0% wage settlements, which means wage cut in real terms.
‘Workers cannot afford to soften their wage demands when Executives’ and Shareholders’ salaries, bonuses and perks remain obscene, whilst workers and their families are squeezed deeper into abject poverty and economic misery.
‘NUMSA calls on MTN’s greedy bosses to concede to the reasonable and affordable demands of workers. We call on workers to remain firm and resolute on their struggle for decent pay and improved conditions of employment.
‘Lastly, we call on the striking workers to remain united until their demands are fully met by the MTN bosses. The principle of “No Work; No Pay” should not dampen their militancy and revolutionary spirit in this just and noble struggle.
‘Already, the bosses will try to use this “No Work; No Pay”, principle to weaken the strike, the workers should resist such maneuvers by remaining united – guided by worker’s battle cry “Fight or Starve”.
‘NUMSA calls on its members working night shifts; our communities and unemployed to join en masse MTN workers on the picket line as they fight for a Living Wage and improved conditions of employment.’