Below we publish photos from two solidarity protests organised by CWI comrades yesterday, as the struggle of miners in South Africa for living wages and against police repression continues, following the brutal Marikana massacre of 16 August. Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in Nigeria) and the Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) and United Left Alliance gathered outside South African embassies in Lagos and Dublin respectively demanding an end to state violence and the use of apartheid laws to repress strikers, as well as an independent workers’ inquiry into the massacre and the nationalisation of South Africa’s mine wealth. See here for further articles on South Africa.
Marikana Massacre: DSM Stage Protest at South African Embassy in Nigeria
By Peluola Adewale
Members of Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), armed with placards with various inscriptions and protest letter, were at the South Africa High Commission in Lagos on Thursday September 6, 2012, in protest against the Marikana massacre, which is reminiscent of apartheid era, and in solidarity with Lonmin miners and their demand for better pay.
The armed police in protection of the super profit of Lonmin, the world’s 3rd biggest producer of platinum, and the greed of some leading members of ANC had on August 16 opened fire on the miners, who were on strike for pay rise, brutally killing 34 of them. Adding insult to injury, 270 of the workers, who survived the bullet rain, were arrested, and initially charged with murder by the government which invoked a crude apartheid law which puts the blame of police brutality including extra-judicial killing on the victims. It was global outrage against this crudity that forced the government to drop the murder charge and free the miners.
Besides, the solidarity actions organized by different groups locally and internationally including the sections of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) across the world have helped encourage the striking miners to remain resolute in the struggle despite the threat from the Lonmin management in connivance with Zuma government. Our sister organization in South Africa, also called DSM, has been helping organize the miners and campaign for solidarity actions, locally and internationally including a general strike in South Africa .
At the South Africa High Commission, Dagga Tolar, Publicity Secretary of DSM, spoke on behalf of the protesters and read out the protest letter addressed to President Jacob Zuma through the Higher Commissioner (See below the protest letter). Mr. Lindak Pule, First Secretary at Corporate Services Department, received the protest letter on behalf of the high commission.
It is instructive to recall that this is the second protest letter we have addressed to President Zuma. We had sent the first one on August 17 which attracted response from the South African presidency stating the steps the Zuma government has been taking to address the crisis. All the e-mailed statements we have received only show desperate attempt by Zuma government to distance itself from the massacre carried by its agency in defence of super profit of a multinational.
Dagga also called on Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to organize similar solidarity actions with the South African miners. He also drew a parallel between the Marikana massacre and deployment of soldiers and tanks by Goodluck Jonathan government at the facilities of PHCN (public electricity company) in Nigeria to suppress the protest of electricity workers as it prepares to enforce privatization of the company. He called for immediate withdrawal of the soldiers and for the PHCN to be kept public under democratic control of workers, consumers and relevant professionals.
The messages on the placards carried by comrades, among other things, call for implementation of miners’ demand, improvement in their working condition, persecution of Lonmin management and killer policemen, adequate compensation for the families of murdered miners and abrogation of all apartheid laws. We also denounce the pro-rich, pro-big business and class apartheid character of ANC government, and call for withdrawal of trade unions from the alliance with the party and formation of a new mass workers party. Also important is the call for the nationalization of the mining sector under democratic control of workers and communities so that the huge mineral wealth of the country will be used to benefit the majority.
The protest which was also joined by a Russian woman living opposite the high commission was covered by print and electronic local media as well as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The Russian bought our paper at a solidarity price.
September 6, 2012
President Jacob Zuma
President of South Africa
Through South African High Commissioner to Nigeria
High Commission of the Republic of South Africa
24 Molade Okoya Thomas Street
WE CONDEMN BRUTAL MASSACRE OF STRIKING LONMIN WORKERS
For Nationalisation of the Mining Industry under Working Class Democratic Management
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) – CWI Nigeria – condemns in strong terms the brutal massacre of 34 striking Lonmin miners. The DSM is the Nigerian sister organization of the DSM in South Africa – both of which are affiliated to the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI).
We place the responsibility for these killings on the mine company, Lonmin Plc and the government of South Africa. 34 miners were brutally murdered on Thursday August 16, 2012 while striking for a raise in wage to 12, 500 Rand a month. The brutal killing of the miners brings back the sad memory of massacres that took place during the Apartheid regime. Hence, nothing fundamentally has changed between the Apartheid era and the post-apartheid South Africa.
The police and the state have attempted to justify this brutality simply as self defense. We however disagree. This was a premeditated massacre carried out by the South African government on behalf of the platinum multinational, Lonmin Plc and was designed to crush the struggle of the mine workers for higher pay and act as deterrent to the rest of workers of other mines and throughout South Africa.
The DSM in Nigeria fully supports the demands of the striking Lonmin miners. We do not trust the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma to administer justice particularly when the South African government is pro-big business and anti-people. The initial arrest and detention of miners under Apartheid laws show clearly the oppressive nature of the government. Since the end of white minority rule, what has replaced it is Black and White minority rule. Despite the abundant human and material resources, South Africa is ranked among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of income inequality and also records high rate of poverty and unemployment.
Hence, we call for an independent panel of inquiry whose members must include democratically elected representatives of trade unions, pro-working masses organizations and rank and file miners. We demand the abrogation of all oppressive and exploitative Apartheid laws. All criminal charges on mining workers must be unconditionally dropped while adequate compensation should be paid to the families of the slain and maimed miners
We demand the immediate fulfillment of demands of the Lonmin mine workers including the pay rise of up to 12,500 Rand and improved working conditions and better pay for all mine workers in South Africa. We condemn the massive exploitation in the mining sector wherein miners are condemned to poverty despite creating profit for the multinationals and the top government officials.
Hence, we demand the nationalization of the mining sectors and to be placed under democratic management and control of workers, experts and the communities.
Media interview Dagga from DSM Nigeria
Paul Murphy, Socialist Party (CWI) MEP