AZANIA / SOUTH AFRICA: The Butcher of Marikana Becomes President
(reprinted from the February-March 2018 issue of The Organizer newspaper)
Presentation by Dominique Ferré
The date was August 16, 2012. In Marikana, the Black platinum mineworkers at the Lonmin mines had been on strike for weeks. The strike was condemned by the majority union: the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). But the mineworkers had joined massively another union, the AMCU, which supported the workers’ demand for 2,500 Rand. The mineworkers and their families lived in slums, sometimes in worse conditions than at the time of the racist regime of Apartheid, which was officially abolished in 1994 under the Kempton Park CODESA agreement. On August 16, 2012, the police fired on the workers.
Thirty-four mineworkers were murdered. To preserve the privileges of the white minority and multinational mining companies, the tripartite ANC-South African Communist Party-COSATU government committed a massacre reminiscent of the worst bloodshed of the Apartheid regime. The day before, Cyril Ramaphosa, a Lonmin shareholder and a former NUM trade union leader, had written to the authorities to urge them to intervene on the side of the bosses.
Indignation seized thousands of militants throughout the COSATU trade union federation. Two years later, in fact, the NUMSA steelworkers’ union was expelled from COSATU for denouncing the “massacre.” The Marikana massacre was a turning point for Azania/South Africa.
On February 16, 2018, after a long campaign involving the fight against corruption, President Jacob Zuma resigned from office, leaving the presidency of the Republic to Cyril Ramaphosa, who had been elected president of the ANC two months earlier.
For Irvin Jim, general secretary of NUMSA, “the presidency of Ramaphosa marks the beginning of a new era in the war against the workers.”
We publish below statements by Ashraf Jooma and Mandlenkosi ka Phangwa, members of the editorial board of the Black Republic newsletter.
 This represents a monthly wage of about US$150 per month at the current exchange rate.
 The fact that Zuma is corrupt is indisputable. But what about the Ramaphosa clan; was there no corruption there? As we can see, the “fight against corruption” is a very “algebraic” concept, which, moreover, is useful to divert attention away from the real questions.
* * * * * * * * * *
Saint Ramaphosa or the Butcher of the Marikana?
By Ashraf Jooma
In 2013, Forbes magazine listed the richest Africans: Cyril Ramaphosa, who in the 1980s founded the powerful National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), is No. 21. His worth is estimated at $675 million, astounding wealth in a country where about 40 percent of the population survives on less than $2 a day.
How did he become so rich?
In addition to mining stocks, Ramaphosa’s holding company owns all of South Africa’s 179 McDonald’s restaurants and pieces of everything from Coca-Cola distribution to solar energy, from banking to the largest mobile-telephone network. He is on many corporate boards and committees. His wife is the sister of a bigger tycoon — Patrice Motsepe, No. 8 on the Forbes list — making Ramaphosa’s membership in the Black capitalist class virtually dynastic.
Proof that liberation is far from fully delivered was the massacre of platinum mineworkers in Marikana. Ramaphosa is a shareholder and board member of the platinum company Lonmin, whose mine was the scene of the killings. His portfolio includes investments in the mining industries — gold, diamonds, coal and platinum.
“The terrible events that have unfolded [in Marikana] cannot be described as a labor dispute,” Ramaphosa wrote. “They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterized as such. In line with this characterization, there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.”
The following day, the police arrived in paramilitary formation. Thirty-four people were mowed down by automatic-rifle fire.
We support the call by the South African Federation of Trade Union (SAFTU) to “demand the immediate arrest of all those in government, Lonmin and police management who planned, organized and approved this murder. … Cyril Ramaphosa, using his influence in the ANC, called for the ‘concomitant action” and labeled the strike ‘plainly dastardly criminal.’ So said a man who had championed the rights of mineworkers before, but once he crossed the class divide and participated in the class oppression and exploitation made a 360-degree turn. He too can’t escape with a lousy apology. He is as guilty as those who under pressure from him organized the brutal killing of workers.”
Ramaphosa is seen as the one to save South Africa, appease the markets, and drive direct foreign investment. The mining sector will be the first to benefit.
The resignation of Jacob Zuma and the ascension of Ramaphosa to power in the ANC and government do not benefit the working class and poor. In reality, it ensures the continuation of the sell-out and betrayal of the Azanian people at the 1994 Kempton Park settlement, which protected the property rights and wealth of the white minority at the expense of the working class and the poor. Ramaphosa was one of the chief negotiators and co-drafters of the neo-liberal constitution.
In order for there to be effective change in the 2019 general elections, the question is who will represent the working class? Neither the South African Communist Party (SACP), the ANC, nor any opposition party can represent the interests of the Black working class. The only option is the formation of an independent Workers Party to contest the elections on a worker and poor orientated program, of Land Expropriation without compensation, the nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy, farms, mines and banks.
Ashraf Jooma is general Secretary of AS-FI and editor of Black Republic.
* * * * * * * * * *
The Financial Markets Welcome Zuma’s Resignation
By Mandlenkosi ka Phangwa
The resignation of President Jacob Zuma came as no surprise as it was another escape route to shield the CODESA shenanigans, where after 23 years the ANC has failed to deliver the most fundamental aspect of the liberation struggle, which is Land and Economic liberation to the Black working class majority. Without seeming to be singing praises of Jacob Zuma, however, it must be stated without fear of contradiction that his most recent rhetoric resonates with the real call of the people on the question of land and the economy of this beautiful country of Azania.
For numerous years, the ANC has refused to break with imperialism and all its trappings to a point where its current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, had to sacrifice mineworkers in order to appease the imperialist mining magnates who had given him shares as part of the so-called “Black Economic Empowerment” (BEE) in the London-based mining company Lonmin. This is where 34 mineworkers were brutally massacred on August 16, 2012.
Zuma’s resignation made it clear yet again that imperialism controls and dictates to the ANC, where it can replace and put its preferred operative in the government.
The resignation of President Jacob Zuma came at a moment when the question of land and the economy have regained large support, especially from the Black majority who are mainly youth. We have seen and been involved in various struggles for land and for control over the economy, where our people have not only protested as they are now, but have rolled sleeves to take the land that rightfully belongs to them.
We cannot say that Jacob Zuma is a separate entity from the ANC, as he is one of its longest-serving members who has been part and parcel of the ANC and its policies. But as one can draw a line, we can safely confirm that Zuma was just a decoy. Those who have gone after Zuma have sought to exonerate Apartheid and colonialism by protecting the status-quo established in the post Kempton Park CODESA agreement that maintained the privileges of the white minority.
When the Rand shot up in value when compared to the U.S. dollar right after Zuma tendered his resignation, this only proved that the policies of the ANC-led government are not decided by the ANC’s congresses and members, but by the markets. The holding at ransom of the country’s economy through rating agencies was indeed aimed at testing the ANC ‘s obedience towards its capitalist handlers … while the poorest of the poor have been left with nothing but the false hope of a better life.