Saturday, 1 September 2012

Marikana Massacre Completely Exposes the Pseudo-Left, both Social Democracy and Stalinism

- Rajesh Tyagi/ 24 August 2012

August 16 police massacre in the platinum mines owned by MNC Lonmin, left 34 mine workers dead in a hail of bullets and another 78 wounded.
Contingents of police backed by helicopters and armored vehicles used tear gas, water cannon and stun grenades against the strikers, driving one column into a waiting phalanx of cops, armed with automatic weapons and live ammunition, killing and wounding dozens of miners. Sustained and random gunfire continued even after scores of the strikers fell dead and wounded.
Officials have placed the death toll in the barbaric police slaughter at 34, but other sources have suggested that the real number could be closer to 50. Scores more were wounded, some of them critically, in the barrage of automatic weapons fire unleashed against miners carrying machetes and sticks. Not satisfied with this, police has arrested 259 miners while families continue to search for missing at hospitals, morgues and police stations.
The massacre has laid bare the irreconcilable conflict between the working class on the one hand and the ruling African National Congress (ANC), the Stalinist Communist Party and the trade unions allied to them, on the other.

The scene of a phalanx of police, firing assault rifles into virtually defenseless workers and then advancing on a dusty field littered with bleeding corpses and the moaning of wounded has shocked the conscience of the whole civilised world recalling the horrific repression under the apartheid regime.
The Marikana slaughter has since repeatedly been, and rightly so, compared to similar mass killings at Sharpeville in 1960 and Soweto in 1976, which had galvanised the mass movement against apartheid. Marikana could have a similar catalytic impact on the struggle that must now be waged against the ANC and its coalition partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Only evident difference is that this time the slaughter was organized not by a white minority regime that became an international pariah, but rather by a government run by its former antagonist, the African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled the country for 18 years, proclaiming its government the realization of the struggle for liberation and the guardian of equality.
The bloodletting at the Marikana mine signals a turning point in South African history. It is by no means an isolated event, but part of a growing eruption of struggles of the South African workers and oppressed, who today confront an official unemployment rate of 25 percent, with unofficial stats putting it at 40% and unemployment among the youth at more than 60%, and conditions of life in the impoverished townships that are little changed from the misery that existed under apartheid.

In reality, while racial inequality has been abolished legally, economic inequality has grown even worse than under white minority rule. The chasm separating South Africa’s wealthy ruling elite—whose ranks now include black multi-millionaire former ANC officials, trade union leaders and politically connected businessmen—and the masses of workers and poor is wider in South Africa than in any other country in the world, with the sole exception of Namibia.
The official unemployment rate for the black African population exceeds 40 percent, while millions have been evicted from their homes or had their electricity or water cut off because they could not pay sky-high bills. Police crackdowns have escalated against workers striking against poverty wages, township residents protesting deadly cuts in electricity and drinking water, students resisting tuition increases. There is mounting rage directed at the uncontrollable corruption of the government.

Immigrants, fleeing for starvation and repression, are blamed for the high unemployment rate. Ominously, tribal enmities are fostered. Since coming to power, the ANC has increasingly worked to pit different sections of the oppressed against each other. The contest to succeed Thabo Mbeki as head of the bourgeois ANC is viewed by many as a contest between the Xhosa central leaders of the ANC and Jacob Zuma, a Zulu traditionalist. Zuma himself is a bourgeois politician who has applauded the austerity policies of the current government. An ANC run by Zuma would be just as anti-working-class as the current ANC.
The Marikana Mine is the richest platinum mine in the world and yet its workers live in shacks. Most of the slain workers are rock drillers, the most difficult and dangerous work in the mine. They do the most dangerous work in the mine and yet they earn only R4 000 a month. Through the blood and sweat in the mines they do not only produce wealth that is alienated from them, they also produce the fat cats, which wine and dine on naked bodies and call that sushi.

While Marikana mine workers continue to live in shacks with their families, the  president of the ANC has recently built a mansion in his homestead, a huge mansion that cost tax payers not less than R200 million.

Khulubuse Zuma, the president’s nephew and Zondwa Mandela, the former president’s grandchild, and many others with close family ties to politicians have become mining tycoons overnight. China is the chief country to join the bandwagon as well, plundering the resources.

Frans Baleni, the General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) earns R105 000 a month. NUM has become a route into high office in government and even to places on the boards of the mining companies.
In the backdrop of these conditions, the slaying of striking workers at Marikana, presents the proof that nothing has changed fundamentally for the broad mass of black workers in South Africa since the end of apartheid nearly two decades ago. A black elite from the ANC and COSATU have become fabulously wealthy under the banner of “black empowerment”. NUM founder Cyril Ramaphosa, a multi-millionaire, sits on the board of Lonmin, while the country’s police force is overseen by black commissioner Riah Phiyega, who zealously defended the massacre at Marikana.

On the other hand, those who walked out of Lonmin’s platinum mine a week ago are among the most exploited workers on the earth- rock-drill operators who labor deep underground in unimaginably harsh and dangerous conditions for roughly $500 a month. Many are migrant workers from countries like Mozambique and Swaziland, living in shacks without electricity or running water, sending the bulk of their pay back home to support extended families.
Against these back breaking conditions at work, these workers had organised the strike demonstration at Lonmin’s Marikana mine.

The police were sent precisely with the assigned mission of gunning down these defiant workers. Police officials referred to their mission as “D-Day,” vowing to use “maximum force.”  Shortly before this police attack on striking mine workers at Rustenburg’s Marikana platinum mine, police spokesperson Dennis Adriao issued a chilling threat, a portent of the massacre to follow: “Today is unfortunately D-Day.”
As the reporter for Johannesburg’s daily Star, Poloko Tau, wrote Friday, “It was a well-planned attack that turned a protest into a kill zone.”

Poverty wages, contemptuous treatment by management, the function of NUM as an appendage of management, and the imminent threat of job loss formed the backdrop to the murderous police attack on the miners.
Lonmin has a record of frequent fatalities and “very poor” conditions for its employees, according to a Bench Marks Foundation report. The company has refused to comment on the report.

Platinum, extracted at a devastating cost to miners who live and work in appalling conditions, sells for over $1,400 an ounce. Its price is rising as rival producers cash in on Lonmin’s loss of six days of production, or about 15,000 ounces of platinum, worth over $2,100,000. Lonmin shares have fallen by as much as 20 percent, wiping $610 million off the market value of the world's third-largest platinum miner.
It is reported that after dispersing the crowd with tear gas, water cannon and stun grenades and chasing miners on horseback and in armored cars, under air surveillance of helicopters, a section of the workers were herded into a waiting line of police armed with automatic weapons and live ammunition. The aim of this bloodletting was to quell the growing militancy of the workers and re-inforce the loosening grip of the pro-government unions.

The Sowetan newspaper accurately observed in a front-page editorial Friday that the massacre had served “to awaken us to the reality of the time bomb that has stopped ticking—it has exploded!”
While South African President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning, in the aftermath of the massacre, the actions of the ANC government have made it abundantly clear that it and its key allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) union federation, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Stalinists of the South African Communist Party, stand fully behind the massacre.

The COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers, which, according to reports, enjoyed a “harmonious relationship” with management at the mine, defended the police action. Frans Baleni, the secretary general of NUM, in an interview with a local radio station stated: “The police were patient, but these people were extremely armed with dangerous weapons.” NUM also placed the blame for the massacre upon AMCU [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union], which it alleged was formed by an NUM breakaway faction. NUM maintained that some of their members had been attacked by members of AMCU.
The treasurer general of AMCU, Jimmy Gama, however, pointed to NUM as the instigator of violence at the mine: “What actually happened there is that on Friday there was a march of all the rock drill operators and during that march they were marching passing of the shaft called Wonderkop Mine and they saw some people coming from NUM offices wearing NUM T-shirts, shooting at the marchers and killing one employee there, so this whole violence started from that shooting.”

Pro-establishment analysts have attempted to reduce the bloody events to a turf battle between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)—the 300,000-member union that is the chief component of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which in turn, is in political alliance with the ANC—and a more militant independent union, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).
Despite the media propaganda about the union battle between NUM and AMCU, the majority of the strikers were not AMCU members, they were non-unionized workers or the NUM members.

The fact is that the AMCU has grown thanks to the miners’ rising anger at the corruption and self-enrichment of the NUM officialdom—personified in the figure of Cyril Ramaphosa, the former NUM president, a core Stalinist, is now one of the richest millionaires of South Africa, with a significant personal stake in the mining sector and a seat on the board of directors of the London-based MNC Lonmin corporation, the owner of the mine where the massacre took place and owner of the McDonald’s franchise in South Africa. Ramaphosa earned his fortunes through the services he had rendered in subjugating the miners’ interests to the demands of the government and the transnational mining companies that it serves.
Reports from the scene of the massacre, however, indicate that the upstart union was itself unable to contain the militancy of the strikers.

The disaffection with NUM was evident in the days leading up to the massacre. The 3,000 miners had left the mines and gathered on a hillside overlooking the mines. NUM president Senzeni Zokwana attempted to address the miners from within the confines of a police armoured vehicle, imploring them to return to work, but was shouted down and forced to leave the area. The miners then rejected an appeal to disperse by the president of the AMCU, saying that they would rather die than return to work under existing conditions. The rock-drillers, who formed the majority of the protesters, said that they had decided to take action themselves after leaving the NUM, to “negotiate our salary raise without any success for years”.
From the commencement of the strike, NUM repeatedly called on workers to return to work. They also dismissed the workers’ wage demand as unrealisable. Indeed, earlier in 2010, NUM vice-president Piet Mathosa had tried to persuade the miners at Lonmin to accept management’s wage offer, even though it fell far short of their demands.  Mathosa was greeted with a rock, causing him to lose an eye.

The degeneration of the trade unions is rooted in their nationalist and pro-capitalist perspective, which was undermined by the globalization of production and the breakdown of the post-war social order. The role of these bureaucratic apparatuses in every country has been transformed from pressuring the employers and the state for concessions to the workers, to pressuring the workers for concessions to the employers so as to attract capital.

Workers’ efforts to break free of these institutions provoke the outrage not only of the corporate elite, but also of middle class organizations that posture as “left” or even socialist.

At Marikana the unions have moved even a step forward- from pressuring workers to open, violent repression. When circumstances require it, they will act the same way in Asia, Europe, the United States and beyond.

The mine companies are desperately afraid that their NUM allies will lose control over the workers. They are determined to prevent “divisiveness”—i.e., working class opposition to the NUM.

These trade union bureaucrats and their co-thinkers speak for privileged, complacent and reactionary sections of the upper middle class. For them, the unions are both a source of potentially lucrative careers and a mechanism to maintain organizational and political control over the working class—and thereby prevent any struggle against capitalism.

Amandla!, closely aligned with the Democratic Left Front of South Africa- a coalition of social democrats and Stalinists-,writes that the “union’s role, once wage negotiations are complete, is to transmit the decision to the rest of the workforce.” And workers are supposed to accept this “transmission” without complaint.

Another article, printed in Amandla!, denounces the AMCU for advancing “unrealistic demands” and “failing to condemn the violence of its members.” That is, the workers are themselves to blame for their deaths because they have the temerity to desire a decent wage.

Whatever the hopes of the trade union executives and their allies, however, the objective crisis is driving millions of people along a different path—towards the formation of new organizations of struggle and towards socialist politics. The bloody events in South Africa have exposed the class lines, and they must become a strategic experience for the entire international working class.

When the strike commenced, Lonmin issued a warning to workers to return to work within 24 hours or face dismissal. Management obtained a court order in an attempt to force workers back to work. Preceding this, in June, Lonmin had stated its intention to lay off 9,000 workers at its Marikana operation. A spokeswoman for Lonmin said only a “handful” of workers would not be affected.
Whereas the massacre was aimed at intimidating the strikers, all indications are that it has backfired. The miners remain resolute and determined.

The 3,000 miners had left the mines and gathered on a hillside overlooking the mines. They first drove away the NUM president, who tried to address them from inside a police armored car, and then rejected an appeal to disperse by the president of the AMCU, saying that they would rather die than return to work under existing conditions.
Associated Press has quoted the Winch operator Makhosi Mbongane, “They can beat us, kill us and kick and trample on us with their feet, do whatever they want to do. We aren't going to go back to work. If they employ other people, they won't be able to work either. We will stay here and kill them.”

Even as the government attempted to calm tensions, other platinum operators were warning of unrest spreading. Earlier in the week, miners at Royal Bafonkeng Platinum demanded pay increases, while workers at Anglo American Platinum in Rustenburg bypassed the unions to submit a list of demands to management for settlement by Friday.
On Friday morning, more than 100 workers at Anglo American Corporation defied orders to return to work after receiving no response to their grievances. Work was resumed only after the company began talks with representatives selected by the miners.

Fears within the ruling elite of a growing rebellion by workers against not only the employers, but also COSATU, were summed up by the South African business web site Moneyweb, which asked, “Is Lonmin only the beginning?”
Reporting a steady escalation in violent strikes over the last two years, Moneywebcited the statement of the South African Special Risks Insurance Association that “strike-related claims have increased significantly since 2006” and now “account for over 70 percent of SASRIA claims.”

Claude Baissac, managing director of mining consultancy Eunomix, warned, “It is not incidental that the challenge to the historically dominant union NUM, affiliated with the ANC, is taking place within a context of growing grass-root contestation to the performance of government.”
According to a study by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, there has been an upsurge of violent protests since 2009 in impoverished areas over the lack of basic amenities and official indifference. The report was published last year, the same year that South Africa officially displaced Brazil as the most socially unequal country in the world. Half the population live below the poverty line, with unemployment officially at 25 percent.

The case of Aurora Empowerment Systems is stark example of growth of crony capitalism in South Africa. Aurora, a partnership between Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Zondwa Mandela, and one of Zuma’s nephews, Khulubuse Zuma, had been granted rights to take over two bankrupt gold mines outside Johannesburg in 2009. It was quickly mired in allegations of irregularities and asset stripping, and accused of failing to pay workers for 18 months, leaving them abandoned in barracks without electricity and dependent on food handouts.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry announced by Zuma is aimed at whitewashing the Lonmin massacre and conditions in the industry more broadly, while trying to reassure investors that South Africa is safe for exploitation. Former judge Ian Farlam is to head the three-person commission, which will take five months to report.

It will inevitably be used to sanction further repressive measures against workers. Zuma has said it will examine the government, police, unions, and individuals to determine whether the use of force “was reasonable and justifiable in the particular circumstances.”
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has announced an investigation into “the suspected political manipulation of mineworkers”, while COSATU claimed to have identified a “coordinated political strategy” to use intimidation and violence to encourage workers to break with the NUM. The charge is that AMCU is working with Malema to undermine the ANC and COSATU. The ANC and COSATU are working with the mining companies on this witch-hunt.

In announcing the period of mourning, Zuma declared: “We must avoid finger-pointing and recrimination. We must unite against violence from whatever quarter. We must reaffirm our belief in peace, stability and order and in building a caring society free of crime and violence.”
The Sowetan newspaper Monday quoted Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, a former banker who has been in her post for only about two months, as telling police that they shouldn’t worry about the mass killings in Marikana. “Safety of the public is not negotiable,” she said. “Don’t be sorry about what happened.” Riah Phiyega, declared immediately after the massacre that she “gave police the responsibility to execute the task they needed to do.” She opposed any prosecution of those responsible for the miners’ deaths, saying, “This is no time for finger-pointing.”

Phiyega was appointed by President Jacob Zuma of the ANC in June and was previously in charge of preparing state-owned enterprises for privatisation. At a press conference, she blamed the strikers for instigating violence, claiming to have found six pistols, including two weapons taken from the police officers killed earlier.
She ignored video footage showing that the police shot miners without provocation as well as the report of the South African Institute of Race Relations, which stated: “There is clear evidence that policemen randomly shot into the crowd with rifles and handguns. There is also evidence of their continuing to shoot after a number of bodies can be seen dropping and others turning to run.”

Meanwhile, the government has made it clear it will show no mercy to 260 strikers arrested on the day of the massacre. They were brought aboard police buses, escorted by armored cars, to a court in the Pretoria township of Ga-Rankuwa on Monday morning under conditions that resembled a state of siege.
Police drove over 100 supporters of the miners out of the courthouse and into the street before the workers were brought in on the buses, from which they could be heard singing. The supporters, many of them women still trying to locate missing husbands and sons, held placards with slogans such as “Free the innocent workers.” Some fell to the street weeping as the column bearing the prisoners passed.

“Police officers holding shields formed a barricade at the court entrance,” the SAPA news agency reported. “The first lot of the mineworkers, walking in single file, filled the left side of the courtroom benches, which had been reserved for them. Some of them held hands. There were bloodstains on some of their clothes.”
Defense lawyers pointed out that the miners, who are being charged with crimes ranging from murder to public violence and robbery, had not been brought before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest, as required under South African law. The prosecution argued against letting the miners, some of them immigrants from neighboring African countries, free on bail, insisting that they had no known addresses. The defense countered that the shacks in which the workers sleep between their shifts are addresses and that they deserved the right to bail. The workers were sent back to prison, with the judge granting a seven-day postponement for further investigation and still more charges to be brought.

The government also announced the formation of a “task force” to investigate the issues that led up to the massacre. The task force is to include Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant, the Chamber of Mines and other big business representatives, and the National Union of Mineworkers, whose leadership has been attempting from the outset to break the strike.
Zuma, returning from a summit in Mozambique, announced an official inquiry into the killings. This will undoubtedly be a whitewash. He and the ANC will have been intimately involved in the police killing, which was a calculated attempt to drown the strike in blood. Police officials referred to it as “D-Day” and said in advance that they would use “maximum force.”

Zuma visited the mine Friday but did not even speak to the strikers. On Sunday, he declared a week of national mourning in an attempt to defuse the situation while efforts are stepped up to drive the striking miners back to work. Zuma’s announcement was preceded by a “final ultimatum” from Lonmin that all miners who failed to return to work would be dismissed.
The foulest reaction has been that of the Stalinists of the SACP, who have openly defended the massacre. The SACP in the North West province, where the slaughter took place, accused the leaders of the striking workers—not the police—of carrying out a “barbaric act” and demanded their arrest.

Together with the South African Communist Party (SACP), which along with COSATU is part of the tripartite alliance that is the political foundation of ANC rule, the trade union officials have played the most criminal role in justifying the massacre and denouncing its victims.
The NUM, chief component union of Stalinist COSATU has publicly denounced the strikers as “criminals” and the AMCU as “anarchists” and “ringleaders” who should be jailed and punished.

NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni issued a videotaped statement on the union’s web site Monday warning against “those dark forces who mislead our members, make them to believe that they’ve got extra power to make their life to be different overnight,” referring to the AMCU and other more militant unions.
Immediately after the massacre, COSATU said “it reiterates its call for workers to observe maximum discipline and unity in the face of a ruthless attempt to divide and weaken them” and declared its “full support” for the NUM’s “efforts to resolve the situation.” These efforts consisted of justifying the massacre in advance and then sending the NUM president to address the strikers over a bullhorn from the inside of a police armored car, demanding that they disperse. He was driven off by the workers.

SACP official, Dominic Tweedie, has been quoted, saying: “This was no massacre, this was a battle. The police used their weapons in exactly the way they were supposed to. That's what they have them for. The people they shot didn't look like workers to me. We should be happy. The police were admirable.”
In its official statement issued on August 19, the SACP called for a commission of inquiry being set up by President Zuma to turn its attention not to the lethal violence of the police, but to “the pattern of violence associated with the pseudo-trade union AMCU” and urged it to specifically investigate its president, Joseph Mathunjwa. Describing those who opposed the domination of the NUM as “demagogic” and “anarchic,” it claimed that the rival union was a creation of the mining companies.

The violence, which once constituted core function of the apartheid regime, had since been systematically employed against the workers to sustain the super profit-margins in the South African mining industry. Initially it were the mines of the Wits-Watersand that employed and rested upon cheap migrant black labor, from the rural Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. The miners of Marikana initially came from the former Bantustan of Transkei, one of the most underdeveloped and impoverished regions in the country.

Violence was consistently used by both the Apartheid and colonial states against attempts to organize mineworkers. Events such as the 1946 miners strike, which witnesses 70,000 workers go on strike and the brutal killing of 12 strikers at the hands of police, comprise a whole chain of such sordid events in the history of South Africa. Apartheid was built upon a two-tier labour market in which white labour and white unions were actively nurtured by an interventionist state, while black labourers were deprived even of their citizenship, through the Bantustan system, i.e. denial of freedom of movement by way of predatory pass laws and curbing their ability to organize through banning of their trade unions. Violence was deployed against many other key movements of South African workers, including the 1973 Durban Strike and countless other battles between labor and the state occurring in 1980s, that resulted in the formation of both trade union federations- COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions) and NUM (the National Union of Mineworkers).

Bourgeois democracies all over the African continent are intertwined with multinational corporations and the global capital through them. Anglo-American, the largest corporation in South Africa, was one of the principle funders of the slaughter in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Similar is the example of Algeria in the continent, where the freedom fighters who had once been tortured by the French colonialist army and police, became the torturers of their own people, on behalf of the neo-colonial bourgeois-nationalist regime.

But the culpability has now extended to President Jacob Zuma and his cronies in NUM, figures such as the chairperson of NUM, are directly involved in the murder of the 34 workers, through deployment of police at the mine and the NUM’s attempt to break up the strike.

Even prior to last Thursday’s massacre, ten people had already died in the strife, including two police officers, two security guards and reportedly three NUM officials targeted as stooges of Lonmin.
The NUM has consistently backed the police attacks on the miners, including in the aftermath of the massacre. NUM Secretary General Frans Baleni reserved his bile for the AMCU and the miners, declaring, “You have opportunists who are abusing ignorant workers. We saw the results yesterday.”

He said this as miners’ loved-ones gathered at hospitals to find out whether their husbands, fathers and sons were among the wounded or the 256 arrested by the police and charged with public violence and, in some cases, murder. No list of casualties was published.
The NUM however, is continuing its role subordinate to the mining corporations, actively assisting in the violent repression and persecution of the striking miners.

The strike is being led by the rival Association of Mine-workers and Construction Union (AMCU), which has succeeded to garner support among a section of mine workers due to the complacence of the NUM with corporates.
The police and the ANC are acting as enforcers of the interests of the corporations. They are determined to make an example of a strike that gives expression to broad-based political and social discontent and challenges the South African bourgeoisie’s brutal exploitation of the working class.

The mining industry epitomises how the ANC has presided over a widening of social inequality since the end of apartheid, enriching a venal layer of black capitalists that make up its leading personnel.
Mining has been central to the history of repression in South Africa. Mining made Sandton billionaires, leaving the Bantustans of the Eastern Cape to be the desolate places with little development, as they still are. Mining in South Africa has made the elites in England richer by exploiting workers in South Africa. One can hardly understand the poverty and deprivation of the rural Eastern Cape, without first understanding why Sandton and the City of London are rich.

The massacre is a fallout of the deep crisis within the ruling ANC and its cohorts in the NUM-COSATU and above all inside the Stalinist SACP. This crisis is triggered by the growing militancy of the working class and its resistance to the attempt by these forces to subordinate its interests to the corporations and domestic capitalists and the bourgeois state that it represents.
The massacre at Marikana has shocked popular conscience in South Africa and elsewhere and has severely discredited the reactionary political alliance between ANC and Stalinists.

Thirteen years after the fall of apartheid, it has become increasingly evident to the black toilers that the Tripartite Alliance government has not altered the social and economic conditions of the impoverished masses. The rigid, legally enforced racial segregation and subjugation of apartheid is no more. But behind the liberation rhetoric of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the democratic trappings of “one person, one vote,” there is the reality of brutal capitalism, based on the same social foundations as the former regime: the savage exploitation of the overwhelmingly black proletariat by a tiny class of fabulously wealthy capitalist exploiters.

Associated Press has observed that protests in South Africa against shortages of housing, electricity and running water, as well as poor education and health services, are “an almost daily affair. That poverty is contrasted by the ostentatious lifestyles of a small elite of blacks who have become multimillionaires, often through corruption related to government tenders.”
Business information provider- ‘Wealth Insight’ recently reported that the number of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (those with wealth of US$30 million or more) in South Africa has increased by 20 percent between 2007 and 2011. Those 543 individuals have an average wealth of US$132 million per person and a total wealth of US$72 billion.

Amidst the growing dissatisfaction, the twelfth national congress of the South African Communist Party (SACP), that met in July in Port Elizabeth came under tremendous pressure of rank and file, which questioned the alliance with the ANC making it the subject of vigorous debate. However, SACP leader Nzimande’s resolution defending the alliance ultimately found favour with the SACP leadership giving thinly veiled support to Zuma on the false basis that he is pro-working class. The resolution explicitly asserted that the “revolutionary alliance led by the ANC” is “an historic and important alliance that should be preserved at any cost.” This was passed with a qualification that the SACP could continue to serve in the bourgeois government but as part of a coalition with the ANC rather than directly joining ministries.
This intriguing role of Stalinists could be seen graphically during the recent bitterly fought public workers strike. While the SACP claimed to support the strike, its Ministers, Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula set the cops and army against the strikers, while Minister for Intelligence Services Ronnie Kasrils unleashed the intelligence services to spy on the teachers union. The COSATU bureaucracy, an integral component of the ruling Tripartite Alliance, deliberately refused to mobilise unions like the miners and metal workers which possessed the real power to win the strike.

The ruling coalition led by ANC in South Africa is a tripartite Alliance, between social democrats, Stalinists and liberals, the South African variant of a popular front, binding the SACP, the Stalinist Party to its bourgeoisie allies. The essence of this class collaboration is the bogus argument that the interests of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie can be expressed in a common programme of the “national democratic revolution”. The truth however is that the interests of the exploited and the exploiters are irreconcilably counterposed to each other and cannot be reconciled and joined in a single program.
This alliance with the bourgeois-nationalist ANC is at the helm of the whole SACP’s politics, and for decades, has necessarily meant subordinating the workers and the oppressed to the capitalist order. The SACP justifies this perspective by asserting that the ANC represents all classes of the black African population.

In order to justify its participation in the government, the SACP has to pretend that the Tripartite Alliance is not a bourgeois government but something other than it. The SACP line that the existing state in SA is some kind of “class-neutral” entity in which the workers can gain “hegemony”, stands falsified to the hilt by Marikana.
The SACP denies the necessity for proletarian revolution, rejecting the “erroneous (and divisive) conclusion that a socialist transition required anotherpolitical revolution in which the working class, in the name of ‘socialism’ overthrew its own national democratic state, and marginalized its own closest allies” (“Taking Forward the Struggle for Socialism, Chapter 5”). The ANC is dubbed a “broad national liberation movement” and a “class-contested terrain,” the better to deny that the SACP is politically subordinated to a bourgeois party and participates in running the bourgeois state.

The struggle against apartheid could be a powerful motor force for socialist revolution in South Africa. Yet far from educating and leading the black African proletariat to take its place at the head of the all oppressed in this revolutionary struggle, the SACP has for decades channelled the struggles of the proletariat into support for the bourgeois-nationalist ANC. The result of this was not the liberation of the black masses of workers and toilers, but the “freedom” of a handful of aspiring black bourgeois to join hands with global capital in the exploitation of their black people. The nationalism promoted by the ANC/SACP has also served to fuel and embitter national, tribal and other divisions among the masses, frustrated by their failure to achieve any modicum of gains, even 13 years after the end of apartheid.
South Africa is not a nation but a colonial-derived state. Apartheid South Africa brutally exploited migrant labour from elsewhere in southern Africa. The peoples of these surrounding countries made numerous sacrifices to support the struggle against apartheid. But today immigrants are discriminated against and subjected to deportation.

Apartheid was not destroyed through revolution but rather through a “power-sharing deal” between the colonialists and the ANC, sanctioned by the Western imperialists. The deal took place in the wake of the counter-revolutionary destruction of the USSR, which had provided material and diplomatic support to the ANC. Throughout the 1980s the ANC devoted the bulk of its efforts to a “divestment” campaign aimed at pressuring the Anglo-American imperialists to pressure the Afrikaner rulers to come to terms with the USSR; after the end of USSR, the ANC quickly came to terms with the Western imperialists and their South African allies.

Contrary to what some SACPers believe, the ANC has not betrayed its “socialist past”, supposedly embodied in the 1955 Freedom Charter of ANC. That charter in fact makes no reference to either socialism or the working class taking power. The famous phrase that “the mineral wealth beneath the soil....shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole” was kept deliberately vague as to how it was to be realised. At best, it posed a nationalisation of the mines within the framework of capitalism. The charter explicitly upholds the right of “all people” to “trade where they choose” and “to manufacture,” that is, it upholds the right to private property in the means of production. In the main it consists of a series of bourgeois-democratic demands, such as abolition of the apartheid laws and laws restricting suffrage. The document claims that “the people” should “share in the country’s wealth” and envisions that “only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief.” But “the people” are divided into social classes with irreconcilable interests. In referring to “democracy,” the ANC meant bourgeois democracy, which means above all defence of the “right” of the capitalists to exploit the workers. The ANC was asserting its appetite to become the bourgeois rulers of the country. In pushing the Freedom Charter, the SACP reinforced the false Stalinist proposition based on bourgeois nationalism, that the black African people all have a common national interest which stands higher than class divisions. The demise of apartheid has since repeatedly refuted the SACP’s false claims that genuine racial or national equality could be achieved in an alliance between the national bourgeoisie and working class.

Indeed the ANC was eager enough to share in the spoils of South African capitalism. With power coming to its hands, rhetoric of “nationalising the mines” was quickly dropped. As early as 1990 Nelson Mandela made clear that he had “never advocated socialism at all” and that he favoured “the flourishing of capitalism among Africans.” The “power-sharing deal” was guaranteed by various “sunset clauses”, pushed vigorously by then SACP leader Joe Slovo, that enshrined the privileges of the old white ruling class. The ANC acted fundamentally no differently than other former petty-bourgeois nationalists like Robert Mugabe who, upon taking power, exploited their own people in league with the imperialists.

Over the following 13 years the ANC—aided and abetted by its labour lieutenants in the SACP and the COSATU bureaucracy—has indeed kept its end of the bargain with the Imperialists, defending the sanctity of the bourgeoisie’s property and profits. While there is a black government, the economic and social conditions of the black, Indian and coloured working masses have if anything deteriorated. This gives the lie to the SACP’s claims of a “national democratic revolution.” It confirms in the negative the Trotskyist programme of permanent revolution, underscoring that achievement of national equality requires the overthrow of the capitalist system of exploitation.

The developments in South Africa have provided the starkest confirmation of Leon Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution, which established that in the oppressed countries, the bourgeois nationalist movements, tied to capitalism and fearful of the working class, are organically incapable of carrying through the struggle for democracy and liberation from imperialist domination, much less meeting the social aspirations of the workers and oppressed masses.
These tasks fall to the working class, mobilizing behind itself all of the oppressed social layers. Their realization requires a decisive political break with the ANC and its trade union apparatus and the building of a new independent leadership based on a socialist and internationalist perspective. It means fighting for a workers’ government to nationalize the mines and other key sectors of the economy and carry out a radical redistribution of wealth, while seeking to extend the revolution throughout the African continent and beyond.

The working class, mobilizing the rural poor, must build its own party to fight for the overthrow of capitalism and imperialist oppression in South Africa and throughout the continent.
Incidentally, the year of Marikana massacre, is the year of centenary celebrations of the ruling ANC. The 100th anniversary has been used by the ANC to attempt to draw fresh credibility from the long history of struggle against the brutal apartheid system in South Africa in which many were killed or imprisoned, and workers and youth in the country's black townships fought heroically against heavily armed security forces.

The centenary celebration by South Africa's African National Congress, however, is an occasion to draw a balance sheet on the character and fate of the ANC and similar bourgeois nationalist movements.

Founded in 1912, the ANC is one of the oldest of these movements, having drawn its inspiration from the even older Indian National Congress. It played a pivotal role in the negotiated end of the apartheid regime in South Africa and for the last 18 years has been the country's ruling party.

The leadership of the ANC, far from realizing the aspirations of the masses who came into struggle, merely exploited their sacrifices to cement their own integration into the ranks of the imperialist and national capitalist oppressors, turning not a small number of the old advocates of liberation into multi-millionaire businessmen.

Conditions have only worsened during the nearly two decades of ANC rule. While racial apartheid has ended, the chasm between the wealthy elite and masses of workers and oppressed has only grown. Social inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, is worse in South Africa today than in any other country on the planet, save Namibia. Fully 70 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. While the official unemployment rate hovers around 25 percent, most realistic estimates put it at close to 40 percent.

Moreover, the below 5 years mortality rate has actually increased since 1990, going from 60 per 1000 live births to 65 per 1000 live births. By far the largest cause of death in children under five is HIV/AIDS! It is hardly a secret that medical services are crumbling: a shortage of staff, poor pay for health workers, decaying facilities, budget cuts for health services. And when health workers struck recently, the government—in which the SACP serves—threatened to fire many of them as the strike disrupted “essential services”.
So-called "free market reforms" have assured that those at the top, including both the old white ruling elite and a new layer in the top echelons of the ANC and the trade union bureaucracy, have accumulated immense wealth. Figures like Cyril Ramaphosa, the former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers and secretary general of the ANC, who is now worth some $275 million, became the principal beneficiaries of the policy of "Black Economic Empowerment" inaugurated by the ANC after it took office.

The African historian Achille Mbembe has aptly described the ANC as a party "consumed by corruption and greed, brutal internecine battles for power and a deadly combination of predatory instincts and intellectual vacuity."

Country after country where bourgeois nationalist or "national liberation" movements have come to power, they have opened up these countries to global capitalism for unlimited exploitation of their national resources and human labour and in turn a new class of local bourgeois stands immensely benefited.

ANC had placed itself forward as a representative of the aspiring black middle class. It sought, not imperialism's defeat, but rather its patronage, offering itself as an interlocutor between the white ruling class and the masses of black workers and oppressed.

It is the ANC government that shoots and kills protesters when they are fighting for their most fundamental rights. They recently killed Andries Tatane. They have killed at least 25 others on protests since 2000. If you are poor and black your life counts for nothing to the ANC.

Starting in the 1960s, the ANC, in alliance with the Stalinist South African Communist Party, employed the rhetoric of revolution and class struggle, but Mandela's perspective of empowering and enriching an aspiring black bourgeoisie remained its fundamental program. When the uprisings in Soweto and the other black townships began to make the country ungovernable, the white ruling elite, spearheaded by the Anglo-American Corporation, initiated negotiations for a peaceful end to apartheid and a formal transfer of power, with the aim of quelling the revolutionary challenge from below and preserving their wealth and property. Mandela and the ANC obliged.

In 1956, Nelson Mandela had summed up the ANC's aims, promising that if it came to power it would not introduce socialism, but rather, "For the first time in the history of this country, the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before." This vision has now found its fulfilment at the expense of the masses of black workers.

In 1935, Leon Trotsky, the co-leader of October Revolution in Russia with Lenin, in a letter to his followers in South Africa, warned of "the inability of the Congress [ANC] to achieve the realization of even its own demands because of its superficial, conciliatory policy."

This warning proved prescient. The ANC's trajectory, like that of all the other bourgeois nationalist and liberation movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East-from the Indian Congress Party, to the Palestine Liberation Organization, and to the Sandinistas -has vindicated the fundamental perspective advanced by Trotsky in his Theory of Permanent Revolution.

Trotsky's perspective established that the bourgeoisie in the oppressed countries, tied to imperialism and fearful of the working class, is organically incapable of carrying out the struggle for democracy and an end to imperialist domination. Those tasks can be realized only by the working class, leading the oppressed masses, seizing power into its own hands and going over to a socialist revolution as part of the struggle of the international working class to put an end to capitalism on a global scale.

In fact, the alliance with the ANC dates from the year after the defeat of the Chinese Revolution. At its recent congress the SACP leadership cited a resolution of the 1928 Sixth Congress of the Comintern that asserted:

“Our aim should be to transform the African National Congress into a fighting nationalist revolutionary organization against the white bourgeoisie and the British imperialists, based upon the trade unions, peasant organizations, etc., developing systematically the leadership of the workers and the Communist Party in this organization [we repeat: “developing systematically the leadership of the workers and the Communist Party in this organization... The development of a national-revolutionary movement of the toilers of South Africa...constitutes one of the major tasks of the Communist Party of South Africa.”

—Political report of the SACP’s 11th Congress Central Committee as tabled before the 12th Congress (brackets and emphasis in original)

 At the time of the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27, the Communist International (Comintern) had revived the Menshevik line of “two-stage” betrayal. By then the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet state had placed at the head of the Comintern J.V. Stalin and Nikolai Bukharin, who advocated the anti-Marxist, nationalist dogma of building “socialism in one country,” denying the need to spread the revolution outside the Soviet Union. They continued the policy of liquidating the Chinese Communist Party into the Chinese bourgeois nationalist Guomindang, led by Chiang Kai-shek. Lulled into the belief that Chiang was an ally, tens of thousands of Communists and militant workers, who were the effective power in the key city of Shanghai, were disarmed and murdered when he turned on them in the Shanghai massacre of April 1927. This policy of subordinating the working class to the bourgeois nationalists was opposed by Leon Trotsky. Deriving essential historic lessons from the defeat of revolution in China, Trotsky further developed his theory of permanent revolution to encompass the colonial and semi-colonial world.
However, the Stalinist leadership of the Comintern drew the opposite conclusions. It defended its treacherous conduct in China and generalised this strategy of subordinating the working class to the national bourgeoisie to other countries like South Africa.

Stalin’s Comintern sought to glorify its class collaboration by dubbing the Guomindang a “workers and peasants party.” This “two-class” formula, denying that the class interests of the proletariat differed from the petty proprietor outlook of the peasantry, assisted to cover up the bourgeois character of the Guomindang. Stalinists claimed that a bourgeois revolution would “grow over organically” into the socialist revolution.

The bankruptcy of the Menshevik idea of “revolution by stages” was sufficiently discredited by the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Tsarist Russia, an overwhelmingly peasant country with a myriad of national minorities oppressed by the Great Russian landlords and capitalists, presented a model of combined and uneven development. There was numerically small but politically significant proletariat concentrated a few industrial centres, in huge factories equipped with the most modern technology. The Mensheviks, who in fact were the original proponents of “two-stage revolution,” argued that the bourgeoisie must come to power to resolve the outstanding democratic tasks such as giving land to the peasantry. Against this perspective of binding the proletariat to the liberal bourgeoisie, Lenin counterposed the revolutionary collaboration of the proletariat and the downtrodden peasantry, culminating in a “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry.” Trotsky likewise recognised that the Russian bourgeoisie was incapable of leading a democratic revolution, but went further than Lenin. In his theory of permanent revolution, developed during the period 1904-06, Trotsky asserted that the Russian Revolution would be proletarian-socialist in character; that the solution of the bourgeois-democratic tasks (such as destruction of the tsarist autocracy, land to the tiller, democratic solution of the national question) was conceivable only in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, leaning on the peasantry. The dictatorship of the proletariat would place on the order of the day not only democratic tasks but socialist tasks as well. To guarantee such gains and to lay the basis for a world socialist society, proletarian rule had to be extended to the advanced capitalist world.

In 1917, when the tsar’s government collapsed, the Mensheviks supported the new liberal bourgeois Provisional Government and later joined the government. Majority of Bolshevik leaders followed the course behind them. Lenin waged a merciless political struggle against the Mensheviks and those in the Bolshevik Party who supported the provisional government. Rejecting idea of support to the provisional government, Lenin came over to Trotsky’s view that the revolution could triumph only by placing the proletariat in power. While the majority of the Bolshevik leadership initially called for “completing the bourgeois-democratic revolution,” Lenin insisted that “The conclusion is obvious: only the assumption of power by the proletariat, backed by the semi-proletarians, can give the country a really strong and really revolutionary government.” Lenin won over the key cadre in the Bolshevik party; the Bolsheviks led the working class, supported by the peasantry, through the October Revolution, that smashed the old state apparatus, replacing the class dictatorship of capital with the dictatorship of the proletariat based on democratically elected councils (soviets) of workers and peasants.

Stalinist parties, the world over have supported the Marikana massacre. The “political and trade union forces” in South Africa that had ordered and defended the Marikana massacre, are supported by theStalinist Communist Party of France (PCF). After sympathetically quoting South African President Jacob Zuma and cynically expressing its “indignation and horror” at the violence, the brief communiqué published August 17 by the PCF states: “The PCF reaffirms its solidarity with all the political and trade union forces in South Africa in their struggle to reduce inequality, for progress and for social justice under the true rule of law.”
The PCF’s fellow Stalinists in the South African Communist Party (SACP), who historically have supported the ANC, dismissed the police killing of strikers as “worker-to-worker violence.”

By praising police toadies in South Africa as fighters for justice and the rule of law, the PCF has signalled that it and its affiliated unions like the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) will not object to similar acts of police violence to crush strikes in Europe.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), whose former president Cyril Ramaphosa has gone on to amass a fortune of $275 million, has opposed the miners’ strike. NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni defended the police, stating, “The police were patient, but these people were armed with dangerous weapons.”

The massacre of South African miners is an event of international significance, testifying to the murderous hostility of bourgeois “left” parties and the trade union apparatus towards any militant movement of the working class that threatens to escape the suffocating grip of the official unions. It is also a warning alarm to the international working class.
However, despite all efforts of bourgeois and its Stalinist lackeys, the strike by thousands of South African platinum miners, which the ANC-SACP regime has sought to crush through violence, is spreading to other companies in the industry.

Rock drill operators had walked out at the nearby Royal Bafokeng platinum mine on next Tuesday night, shutting down production at the site that employs 7,000 workers. No one reported for work at either of the mine’s two shafts.The company could manage to get one shaft working on Wednesday morning, but the second shaft remained closed.
Company officials said they were “making every effort to understand the reasons for and to resolve this action”. The rock drillers, who do most difficult and dangerous work, are making similar demands to those at Lonmin, for an increase in their wages from 4,000 rand (US$485) a month to 12,500 rand.

Royal Bafokeng CEO Steve Phiri told Business Day that the company had not responded to the wage demand since it had an existing collective agreement. Phiri added that “The NUM had demonstrated leadership by handling the situation and explaining to the rock drillers that management had referred them to the existing wage agreement and the company could not meet their demands.”
Meanwhile, giant Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) reported that workers at its Thembelani mine near Rustenburg have given week’s deadline to the company to respond to similar demands.

“Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole told that the demands were presented after a march last week—by the workers, and not union representatives,” wrote Business Day.
The spread of the platinum strike in the wake of the Marikana massacre is causing considerable anxiety throughout the South African establishment and mining industry. Industry media outlet termed the report from Anglo American Platinum of “an unspecified pay increase demand from workers on the world’s largest platinum mine … a possibly ominous development.”

Mineweb points out that the demand at Amplats “has come from workers directly, rather than through official National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), and this mirrors the demands at Lonmin’s Marikana mine where again no official demands were made to the mine owners via the union.”
The web site continues: “What is particularly worrying here is that the miners are bypassing the NUM suggesting a total lack of trust in the traditional mining union setup. The NUM appears to be being seen as a vassal of the ruling African National Congress political party—i.e., part of the new South African establishment.”

The breakaway from the NUM, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which has played a leading role in the Lonmin strike, is apparently not a significant factor at Anglo-American or Royal Bafokeng.
Reuters reported Wednesday that “AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa told a news briefing in Rustenburg that reports of disturbances at Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RBPlat) and wage demands at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) had nothing to do with his union.” Revealing his own outlook, Mathunjwa, when asked if he thought the mine unrest would spread, replied, “I do not want to be a prophet of doom.”

Four days after 34 of their comrades were massacred by heavily armed police, striking South African platinum miners defied a company ultimatum to return to work Monday or be fired.
Stating that barely 27 percent of the workforce had reported to the Marikana mine on Monday, the mine’s owner, London-based mining conglomerate Lonmin, was forced to back off of its threat.

The mine was unable to resume any production Monday, as rock drill operators, some 3,000 of whom have been on strike since August 10, refused to end their action. These workers, among the most brutally exploited in South Africa, are indispensable for digging new platinum out of the ground.
Thousands of strikers returned to the hill overlooking the mine where the massacre took place on Monday. The area remains a “bloody battlefield,” according to a report published Monday in the South African Mail & Guardian.

Workers who spoke to South African media were clearly angry and bitter at both the African National Congress government for organizing this bloodletting and the company, Lonmin, for treating their demands with contempt and ordering them to end their strike or lose their jobs, under conditions where the blood of their co-workers is still not dry.
“Expecting us to go back is like an insult. Many of our friends and colleagues are dead, then they expect us to resume work. Never,” Zachariah Mbewu, one of the strikers, told the South African Press Association (SAPA). “Some are in prison and hospitals. The worker added, “We are going back to the mountain, not underground, unless management gives us what we want.”

“Are they also going to fire the ones who are in hospitals and lying in mortuaries?” asked another striker, Thapelo Modima. “It is better to be fired anyway because we are suffering, our lives won’t change. Lonmin does not care about our well-being. They have so far refused to hear us out, only sending police to kill us.”
Yandisa Matomela, who does casual labor at nearby mines and joined the rock drill operators’ struggle, told the Mail & Guardian: “The government is under the ANC so it’s the ANC that killed those people. They don’t care about us. Government is looking after the mine, that’s why the police are here. More people will die but nothing will happen.”

A demonstration of miners’ wives Friday featured placards reading, “Police Stop Shooting our Husbands and Sons.”
At the Marikana mine, the site of the massacre, 70 miles northwest of Johannesburg, the overwhelming majority of workers remain on strike, in defiance of earlier company ultimatums. Lonmin claimed that 33 percent of employees had showed up, but no production took place.

The 3,000 drilling operators at the Marikana mine, northwest of Johannesburg, are striking to demand a more than 300 percent increase in their 4,000 rand ($480) minimum monthly wage to 12,500 rand ($1,500).
The company, formerly known as ‘Lonrho’ and headed by the notorious “Tiny” Rowland, had brutally insisted that workers return to the mine this week or face dismissal. In 1973, British Conservative prime minister Edward Heath had called Lonrho the “unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism”

Concerned by the impact of the company’s provocation, the ANC government under Jacob Zuma intervened, and the mining firm promised no reprisals against miners who stayed off the job during the national days of mourning.
The 259 miners arrested in connection with the Lonmin strike, which began August 10, still remain behind bars, some of them facing murder and attempted murder charges. The jailed men appeared in court for the first time August 21, under heavy police guard. Protesters, including wives and other relatives, were removed from the Garankuwa Magistrate’s Court, north of Pretoria, and forced into the street by police.

The prosecution requested a one-week adjournment for investigation to complete. No police officers or officials face charges for the cold-blooded murders August 16. A promised government inquiry will sure be a whitewash.
The striking Lonmin miners are insisting on the release of the imprisoned workers as part of their demands. At negotiations between Lonmin and the strikers, the first such talks since the strike began, brokered by Anglican Bishop Johannes Seoka, rock driller Kwenene Msindiseni told the media, “We want our brothers who were arrested to be freed, without bail. They must attend the memorial service” on thursday.

ANC government officials have been greeted with anger by miners and residents in the platinum mining region. Defense and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, part of a ministerial delegation, was heckled by miners when she attempted to apologize for the massacre on Tuesday in Marikana.
The Associated Press (AP) reported, “The minister spoke after one furious miner demanded to know why President Jacob Zuma has not come to address them, and threatened not to vote for the governing African National Congress.”

The South African Press Association (SAPA) noted that when Mapisa-Nqakula told the crowd that the cabinet ministers were there to comfort the bereaved families and to help them with funerals, “The crowd interrupted her, telling her not to repeat what they had already heard. They accused President Jacob Zuma of neglecting them.”
SAPA explains that when the ANC delegation arrived, “workers demanded that the police, stationed about 200 metres away, should move or they would boycott the meeting. ‘We do not feel safe near the police. Ask them to leave or you leave,’ one of the strikers’ leaders, Xolani Nzuza said.”

The Defense Minister apologized on behalf of the government, telling the miners, “I am begging, I beg and I apologize, may you find forgiveness in your hearts.”
On Wednesday, six days after the mass killing, President Zuma spoke to a crowd of miners and residents in Marikana, reported AP, “What has happened is very painful. We cry with you, all of us,” Zuma told miners. However, “There was none of the usual applause or ululating that normally greets Zuma. The hundreds of miners and community members were near-sullen.”

When Zuma claimed he had come to the Lonmin mine the day after the massacre, some in the crowd shouted, “You’re lying!” The president refused a request Wednesday by strikers to visit the site of the August 16 killings, which the “miners are sanctifying like the scene of a martyr’s death,” wrote AP, “When the presidential cavalcade left, workers followed its clouds of dust, expecting Zuma to stop at the site where hundreds more miners had gathered. But the convoy just drove past.”
Anger continues to mount over the August 16 massacre of 34 striking miners at South Africa’s Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana despite official efforts to lower tensions.

Thursday’s national day of mourning called by President Jacob Zuma of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) made clear that professions of sorrow will not suffice to dissipate the outrage directed against not only the mining companies, but also the ANC and its allies in the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party.
At the main commemoration at the Marikana mine northwest of Johannesburg, sobbing widows of the murdered workers were joined by more than 1,000 people, among them the relatives of 259 strikers currently being held in prison.

Earlier, Impala Rustenburg, the world’s largest platinum mine, announced that all production had ceased for the day to allow workers to pay their respects to their Lonmin colleagues. Impala Rustenburg was the scene of a bitter six-week strike earlier this year that left four workers dead.
Such is the hostility directed against Zuma that he was unable to attend any of the ceremonies. Police kept a low profile, although hundreds of officers were gathered in the backstreets.

Government officials, church leaders and trade union officials had agreed that no political speeches would be allowed. But the combative mood among miners found expression in the service, as an unidentified man took to the stage to demand Zuma’s resignation before the microphone was seized from him.
Later, at the close of the ceremony, expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was applauded when he attacked the ANC’s collusion with the mining companies, stating, “Our government has become a pig that is eating its children”. A former Zuma stalwart, Malema was expelled from the ANC in February on charges of “sowing disunity”. A dozen ANC government ministers walked out of the ceremony during his speech.

On Saturday, a mass rally of thousands of miners, their wives and families was addressed by Julius Malema, the former leader of the ANC’s Youth League. Malema was expelled in April for leading an opposition faction.
Malema pointed out that some ANC leaders had shares in the Lonmin PLC platinum mine and had no interest in defending miners. “It is not these brothers who are mourned by the president,” he declared. “Instead he goes to meet capitalists in air-conditioned offices.”

Malema is a left-talking opportunist who specialises in nationalist and anti-capitalist rhetoric. However, his denunciations of President Zuma and UK-based Lonmin struck a chord with the crowd. Zuma must “step down,” he said, adding that “President Zuma's government has murdered our people.”
Malema’s role is to channel political discontent behind a wing of the South African bourgeoisie. His call for the nationalisation of the mining industry has evoked a powerful response, but he is just as much a representative of big business as Zuma. He has a record of involvement in state tenders that has led him to be called a “tenderpreneur.” His disaffection with the ruling clique in the ANC is bound up with the failure of bids in which he was involved, including an attempt to acquire a stake in chrome miner ASA Metals in 2010.

His role is to utilise radical rhetoric to dragoon disaffected sections of workers behind the expelled faction of the ANC he heads and deliver them once again to be exploited by the global corporations in alliance with the black bourgeoisie.
“There was a political vacuum and we occupied that space,” Malema said. “If we failed to do that, the wrong elements would have taken that space. We took it while the [ANC] leadership was indoors speaking to themselves.”

Malema does not offer a viable alternative to the ANC and its allies. Defending his high-profile interventions over the last week, Malema made a highly revealing statement.
She continued: “A wave of strikes has been seen in key African mining countries in recent months, and in most cases recent strikers have been successful in securing pay increases, arguably giving mining workers the confidence to go on strike over issues such as pay.”

The working class can place no confidence in any faction of the ANC, or in the trade union bureaucracy and the Stalinists. Eighteen years of bitter experience since the end of apartheid have demonstrated that their real allegiance is to the national bourgeoisie and the transnational corporations that continue to plunder South Africa.
The leaders of these unions, together with the other partner in the ANC’s tripartite alliance, the Stalinist South African Communist Party, have played the most despicable role. They have defended the police murderers and demanded the suppression of the striking miners, whom they refer to as “criminals,” as well as the arrest and punishment of their “ring leaders.”

After the massacre, NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni demanded that “all workers to go back to work and for the law enforcement agencies to crack down on the culprits of the violence and murders”—which, according to the NUM, are the workers themselves.

The conflict between the working class and the NUM does not stop at Marikana.

The mining industry site wrote recently, “What is particularly worrying here is that the miners are bypassing the NUM, suggesting a total lack of trust in the traditional mining union setup. The NUM appears to be being seen as a vassal of the ruling African National Congress political party—i.e., part of the new South African establishment.”

The Business Day editorial praised NUM, “The NUM is the thoughtful, considered heart of the union movement here, one of the two rival unions involved in the dispute there. Cyril Ramaphosa and Kgalema Motlanthe, for instance, come out of it. As a union it is a powerful voice of reason in an often loud and rash movement.” A more damning indictment of the true loyalties of NUM’s leadership is harder to find, than such praise in the country’s leading pro-business (and anti-union) daily.

Zuma and NUM are colluding with the bosses at the Lonmin mine as part of Zuma’s re-election campaign. Zuma’s favoured union and principle support base within COSATU is NUM and they could not afford to look weak in the build-up to Zuma’s re-election bid at the ANC’s Manugang conference in November, in which he faces a strong challenge from deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, who draws support from several of COSATU’s strongest union, most notably the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and its leader Irwin Jim.

If they were to have been shown up by a bunch of upstart, wildcat striking workers at one of the largest platinum mines in the world, in a country where platinum has replaced gold as the principle source of profit for extractive capital, it would have constituted a serious obstacle to Zuma’s re-election campaign. Furthermore, the South African mining industry seems to be in its last leg, as gold reserves- historically the foundation of the South African economy- and global platinum prices, both continue to drop. This is the reason behind intensification of extractive mining practices, without workers being compensated for the added risk and burden, with any rise in wages.

This precarious situation involving the primary industry in South Africa has forced the NUM to work with the mining capital in order to protect the jobs of their members and in turn ensure that these companies secure the requisite profits needed to keep the mines open. This in turn has led them to view any threats to their position with these companies as a threat to their very existence. In addition, Zuma can’t afford to face any more job losses, in the build up to his re-election campaign.
This was the case during another strike in February-March of this year at the Implants mine located close by. In a country with one of the highest costs of living, the average wage after deductions  came to mere 4000 rand a month (500 USD), and that for one of the most degrading, dangerous and depressing work imaginable. During this strike, wildcat strikers were subjected to similar violence as NUM attempted to protect their position as the dominant union in the mining sector and the favoured union of the mining industry. Despite this, the wildcat strikers secured over a 100% increase in wages, a 5500 rand (660 USD) increase. This opened up space for more wildcat strikes by miners, and now it was turn for the Lonmin at Marikana.

This alignment of forces—in which the unions fall in behind the corporations and the government—is international in scope. So too is the growing rebellion of workers against these right-wing, pro-corporate institutions, as the ruling class carries out an international program of social counter-revolution.

In Europe, wherever struggles have escaped from the confines of actions officially sanctioned by the unions, the unions have collaborated with the government in repressing them. During the strike of Spanish air traffic controllers in 2010, the government called out the military to break the strike, with the support of the unions and their political allies.

So far none of the country’s political, religious and civil society leaders have offered anything besides shameful banalities about a future inquiry and mild to enthusiastic support for the police and NUM. The silence of liberal NGOs, religious and civil society organizations has been remarkable.
The calculated state murder of South African miners must be taken as a warning to the international working class. It is indicative of the methods that will be increasingly employed in the face of mounting working class opposition to brutal austerity measures and attacks on workers’ rights in every country. No one with a knowledge of the history of the struggles of workers in the US can doubt that the response of the American ruling class to mass social opposition will be no different from that of its South African counterpart.

In the final analysis, this explosion has been triggered by the world crisis of capitalism, whose impact upon the South African economy and the mining sector, in particular, has led to an upsurge in the class struggle in this country, just as it has in the Middle East, Europe and throughout the world.

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