The intentions of the bosses and state to drown the South African miners’ militancy in blood – with the Marikana massacre of 16 August – and discourage further workers’ actions have spectacularly failed. On the contrary, their struggle has spread like wildfire, with tens of thousands of miners now on indefinite strike throughout the Rustenburg region. The platinum mines are almost fully shut down by workers action, with workers at the largest company, Anglo Platinum, announcing an indefinite strike 2 days ago. Action has also spread to the gold mines, where tens of thousands more are taking action, all in the fight for a living wage and in solidarity with their brutalised brothers and sisters.
Fears are developing among the country’s ruling elite as to what has been unleashed, as government Ministers heap blackmail on striking miners for putting economic growth in danger etc. The establishment will now proceed to do all within its power to try to defeat the movement, through divide-and-rule tactics and new repressive actions such as those announced today, when the Justice Minister, warned of an imminent and “very swift” crackdown. Miners have shown in the last days, with marches of tens of thousands, to ensure the solidity of the strike, that theirs is the power to shut down the industry.
Marikana miners’ march
The organisation and strategy of the strikers has also seen big steps forward in the recent past. Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa), have been central to the initiatives taken to unite democratic representatives of the striking miners in co-ordinating committees, to discuss the further spreading of the struggle and the next steps for its escalation. As we speak, preparations for a general strike of the mining areas, one of the necessary steps emphasised by DSM, are being made.
Yesterday alone, even the capitalist press in South Africa and internationally saw fit to comment on the role of DSM in the struggle, most notably that of Mametlwe Sebei, a trade union leader and leading member of DSM. Organs such as the French Le Monde, British BBC, and US Wall Street Journal all making explicit references to the DSM. As an example, the South African Times paper reported:
"In North West, mineworkers rejecting the formal unions have formed a Rustenburg Workers and Communities Forum under the leadership of the Democratic Socialist Movement, affiliate of the Committee for Workers’ International.
Executive member Mametlwe Sebei yesterday tried to persuade miners that a general strike should start in Rustenburg and be followed by a national strike and march to the Union Buildings.
"This battle can be won only if we are united," Sebei urged at a mass meeting at Amplats."
DSM also fights to link the growing wave of struggles to socialist policies, such as the nationalisation of the mines under democratic control, in order to put the country’s wealth and growing economy to work for the majority, as part of a democratic socialist plan. More detailed reports/analysis from DSM to follow soon