There was, already before Marikana, there was a lot of doubts and a lot of contestation of Zuma’s leadership and I think that it is very likely that at the ANC Conference in December that he will be replaced as the leader."The ANCs no tolerance of illegal gatherings that led to a massacre where 34 miners were gunned down by State police raises questions over Jacob Zuma’s leadership. Miners protesting at a platinum mine in Marikana, South Africa in August demanding higher salaries were opened fire upon by State police. 34 were massacred with many of those shot in the back while trying to run away. Press TV in its program Africa Today has interviewed Mr. Martin Legassick, Housing activist, DLF (Democratic Left Front) founding member in South Africa about the Zuma government’s response to the Marikana massacre. Also interviewed on the program is Ms. Pinky Miles, former ANC Cabinet Minister advisor and Ms. Lindiwe Tsele, political activist. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview. Press TV: You were actually in Marikana in the aftermath of what can only be described as tragic events. What are you thoughts on the ANCs (African National Congress) response to the Marikana miner’s demands for an increase in salaries… which are very legitimate demands? Legassick: First of all, the ANC calls it a tragedy, it wasn’t a tragedy, it was a massacre. It was a massacre of 34 miners. And what is emerged since the first TV footage is that that TV footage did not reveal the real horror of it. The real horror was when people were running, escaping from the police they were shot in the back. Most of those 34 people were shot in the back escaping from the police, so that’s the first thing.
What struck me about Marikana were two things: One is the terrible conditions that the mine workers were living in. I mean, South Africa is the most unequal society in the world.The CEO of Longman that employs the Marikana miners, earns 400 times what the mine workers earn. The mine workers live in tin shacks with one toilet for 50 people, with a few taps that just trickle; and in shocking conditions. And it really reveals inequality. There was a huge meeting to the massacre of the mine workers and what struck me was their determination to continue to fight for their demand for 12,500 rands and they’ve now been on strike for a month. They’re calling other mines to join the strike and they’re still fighting for 12,500 rands a month. Press TV: The crisis of leadership… Is it really a crisis? Do you think Zuma is going to happily sail into getting his Party’s approval in December and then we’ll have a nice Commission of Inquiry that will keep the public happy? Legassick: No. For a start the ANC has really lost a lot of moral authority. The moral authority that it had as a liberation movement and as the movement that was supposed to have brought democracy to South Africa and that crisis will unfold over the next period. There was, already before Marikana, there was a lot of doubts and a lot of contestation of Zuma’s leadership and I think that it is very likely that at the ANC Conference in December that he will be replaced as the leader. Press TV: With whom? Legassick: Well, the most likely person is the present Vice President Motlanthe, but there could be dark horse candidate, we don’t know, I mean, Marikana puts everything a bit into a state of uncertainty. The COSATU Congress (Congress of South African Trade Unions) the main trade union federation congress, this congress is coming up next week and there’s been bitter differences in COSATU over whether Zuma should have a second term or not. Whether that will surface at the conference is unclear, but I think it will be difficult for the leadership to keep a lid on things given the Marikana massacre. Press TV: What are your thoughts about the seemingly compromised ANC leadership - What way forward for them now - Can they heel their own internal divisions? Legassick: I think the ANC leadership is really blind to what is happening at the grass roots… it has become blind; it has become too comfortable. There is too much corruption in the ranks of the ANC; it goes from top to bottom in the ANC. As for Malema… Malema does articulate, he’s shrewd at seeing where the space is for him to fill, but can we trust Malema? Malema has big tenders in Limpopo province; he is being investigated by SARS; he is a business man himself; and his articulation of the aspirations of the poor and of the workers is all very well, but I’m not sure he can be trusted to put that into practice. SC/JR