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Vol 53 No 17

Published 24th August 2012

South Africa

The Marikana massacre

The ANC’s anti-Zuma faction tries to use the shootings to help depose the President

Senior politicians, not least of all President Jacob Zuma, are failing to deflect public anger about the massacre of 34 miners by police on 16 August at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in Rustenburg. Jacob Zuma’s bid for re-election as President of the governing African National Congress at the crucial Mangaung congress in December could be another casualty of the tragedy. Senior ANC members have substantial investments in Lonmin and have failed to find a voice over the disaster, as has the official trades union movement.The most devastating mass killing since the end of apartheid, Marikana could prove a defining moment in post-apartheid history. Its impact could rival that of the police killings in Sharpeville in 1960 or the government’s slaughter of schoolchildren during the 1976 Soweto uprising. Police said 78 people were injured and 259 arrested after a week of violent protests. Ten people, including two policemen and two security guards, had been hacked to death at the mine the week before. Behind the unrest lies growing divergence between grassroots labour activists and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), now a pillar of the establishment (see Box).

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