The Marikana strike has now inspired a new wave of strikes in the gold mines of the West Rand. 15,000 miners have been suspended for wildcat strike action.
There is much support for the strikers across South Africa, and the Marikana massacre is widely perceived as a critical moment for the ANC and its future rule. The split between the ANC old guard and Julius Malema, the former leader of the ANC’s Youth League, is rapidly widening.
Malema is leading the solidarity work for the miners and has raised continually the question of nationalisation. His rhetorical offensive against “white capital” has struck a chord in the South African working class. It points (in however illogical a way) to the reality of capital and its domination of the means of production. Not just in South Africa, but in other places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where companies like Anglo-American Plc are implicated in genocidal politics and the vicious oppression of any nascent workers’ organisation.
Malema is certainly using the Marikana dispute for his own ends and for his own factional reasons against the ANC, but it is clear that the neo-liberal policies of the ANC and its settlement with international capital in the early 1990s have left the situation of the mass of Black South Africans unchanged since the end of Apartheid.
The leaders of the ANC-backed National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) are seen as having personally enriched themselves off the backs of the miners, and there have been accusations that the NUM has been using the miners’ union dues to invest in the very companies that employ them — making a mockery of the “official”, state-sanctioned trade union. The Marikana massacre evokes the case of Andries Tatane, an activist who broke from the ANC and was beaten to death by the police in 2011. There were another 1,769 deaths in custody or as a consequence of police attacks under investigation in the year before Tatane’s murder.
Tatane, like Biko and Hector Pieterson, and now the Marikana miners, suffered deaths at the hands of capital. Capital is bloodstained whether under Apartheid or under the rule of the ANC and its Communist Party lackeys.
• Info on the Marikana Support Campaign Liaison Committee here