The South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) said on Monday it respected a call by labour union COSATU for President Cyril Ramaphosa to visit Marikana, where 44 mineworkers died seven years ago during a brutal strike at a Lonmin mine, including 34 protesting laborers shot by police.
At the time, former businessman Ramaphosa was a non-executive director at Lonmin, and was criticised for the language he used to reprimand the striking laborers preceding the shooting, although a hearing into the massacre absolved him of blame.
On Monday Paul Sebegoe, SANCO’s director in North West province which is home to Marikana, said Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema had nothing to do with whether Ramaphosa should go to Marikana meaning he also had no say in the matter.
Malema has been critical of Ramaphosa’s part in the Marikana tragedy and has said the president can only go to the area if its community says he is welcome.
“The delusional Malema who prides himself as the master wedge driver and doomsayer forgets that the overwhelming electoral support that the (ruling) African National Congress-led alliance has received in Marikana during the past two elections suggest that the EFF is a non-factor in as far as determining the desirability of the proposed visit,” Sebegoe said in a statement.
He blamed Malema for being among people who had intentionally looked to distance the government from interactions with the Marikana community “for their own narrow and myopic political interests making it virtually impossible for meaningful dialogue necessary for the healing process to commence”.
“Though they appear to be sympathetic, rekindling the anger of miners including deepening the pain of the Marikana widows and orphans appears to be the strongest hold they do not want to lose for their political survival,” the SANCO provincial chairman added.
He said the proposed COSATU/Ramaphosa visit in October ought not to be an advertising exercise but rather a sincere commitment that would foster reconciliation after the August 2012 disaster.