Marikana Massacre: Minister of Police, union leaders and Lonmin mine CEO must resign
Note to editors: This is an extract of the speech that was delivered by DA Parliamentary Leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, today in Parliament, during the Condolence Motion Debate on the Lonmin Mine Tragedy.
We have come together united in sorrow by the terrible events of last week.
Today we are united in grief for those who lost their lives. These are dark and harrowing times for the families and friends of those who are left behind. The Democratic Alliance (DA) would wish to associate itself with the condolences of the government, and the other parties in this Parliament.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who all have been affected. More simply put, we have all been affected and moved. Amidst the grief, this great nation will draw upon the resilience and determination that has guided us through many tragedies and difficult times before.
While this is not the hour for recriminations, it is the time for difficult and painful questions. The DA welcomes the President’s promise to establish an Independent Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana tragedy.
This tragedy could have and should have been prevented. Its escalation speaks of a lack of top-level leadership and of ministerial accountability. The Judicial Commission must therefore be established immediately with precise terms of reference. It must not at any point be downgraded to an internal inquiry.
The Commission of Inquiry must specifically establish who authorized the use of live ammunition on the striking workers, within the context of how the South African Police Service (SAPS) manage violent strikes. Whoever authorized the use of live ammunition must be held accountable.
It must also be revealed on what, if any, intelligence was the planning was conducted; and if the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, exercised appropriate judgment and leadership. At what point did she intervene?
The Commission must also carefully examine the conduct and role of the Minister of Police, the Honorable Nathi Mthethwa. At what point did he intervene?
In most democracies, a crisis of this magnitude would have immediately precipitated the resignation of the Minister, and, in many cases, the fall of the government. The DA is concerned that no one in this government seems to be assuming political responsibility for the massacre. We need accountability now.
The Minister of Police, the Secretaries-General of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Miners (NUM), and the Chief Executive Officer of Lonmin should carefully consider their positions, and, in my view, offer their resignations. Their position is untenable.
The Commission must uncover every factor and decision that led to this incident. Its work must be data-driven, and not subject to political interference, sentiment, or a misguided desire to make the findings appear more acceptable.
The role of every actor from the mine worker, to the trade union leader, the police officer, to the board member of Lonmin, the responsible government minister, to the President himself, must face fair and impartial scrutiny.
Although the searing images of this tragedy will remind of us Sharpville and Boipatong, let us not forget South Africa today is a different country. We are a constitutional democracy; guided not by terror, but by the majesty of the rule of law. The rule of law must now be allowed to takes its course unhindered.
This massacre did not take place in a vacuum. It was a long time in the making, and its many causes are well-known. As a Parliament, we must face up to our failure to hold the government, and the safety and security agencies, to account. We must ensure that a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again.
I thank you.
Issued by the DA, August 21 2012