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What really happened at the Lonmin Mine?

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | opinion/analysis author Saturday August 25, 2012 07:20author by Adrian Boutureira - St Helena Free Press News Serviceauthor email breadnroses005 at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

The Story Beneath the Surface, Part I

The story that needs to be told about the massacre at the Lonmin mine in South Africa, will not come from the capitalist mainstream media, nor be told by the South African government. The story must come from those of us who wont allow for the critical questions behind the death of so many compañeros go unanswered. This is but a humble contribution towards that aim.

The telling of the story: Part I


There is a dirty political story needing to be told beneath the horrible massacre of striking miners in the Lonmin mine in South Africa. A story not unlike many others involving post colonial regimes across the Global South, which have been unable or unwilling to truly realize their nation’s liberation and have instead held fast to neoliberal economics and neocolonialist social constructs.

No event since the end of Apartheid sums up the shallowness of the transformation in South Africa like the Marikana massacre has.

The story that emerges from this massacre is one of failure and betrayal by both the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) and the labor union leaderships; of party fragmentation and the vilification of legitimate opposition; of power struggles at the expense of the well being of the people and the workers; of self promotion, hypocrisy, ideological opportunism, lies, deceptions and corruption…In other words, not a story of leading a nation along a path of revolutionary transformation after centuries of colonialist racist exploitation, but a story about the machinations of the new administrators of the same illicit and brutal capitalist state set on advancing their own power and privilege.

Eighteen years after the ANC came to power, unemployment in South Africa among poor blacks is nearly 50%. Half of all employed workers in the country get no more than $2.50 a day. The modern urban infrastructure of roads, housing, services, recreational facilities, etc, that is enjoyed by the wealthy white population, and the new black middle class and ruling elite, has been built by the expropriation of millions of poor black labor hours, the nation’s progress but a distant mirage to those who produced it.

In the black townships as well as in the worker squatter camps that have sprung around the rich South African mines, living conditions are often horrendous. Criminal activity and violence is endemic, HIV is epidemic, and prostitution and alcoholism are rampant. Residents are often forced to live without electricity or proper sanitary systems while their children fall ill from chronic diseases due to poor hygiene.

All of this represents leadership failure and betrayal for the oppressed and exploited black population of “free” South Africa which is very much aware that it deserves much more after centuries of brutal colonialist rule. Neither the ANC government nor, in the case of the miners, their union, has been willing or capable of advancing and instituting the necessary changes to eliminate even the most crude manifestations of the apartheid system of injustice in the mines.

These words, by an unidentified Lonmin miner, capture the story of millions of workers across South Africa, and the story that I believe the striking rock drillers set out to change:

“Even though I belong to a union, they underrepresent my needs. My concerns are not adequately voiced, and I have no influence. Decisions never seem to benefit me.“I am constantly violated; and have to work under subjective violence. Despite my strength, I am powerless.”

Coming Next:

The telling of the story: Part II

Digging Deeper at Lonmin


author by Artpublication date Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

History has showed we seem to learn nothing from the past. The Massacre of Peterloo or Britons Strike Home, "representing the charge of the Manchester Yeomanry on the unarmed populace in St. Peter's Fields, Manchester. The yeomanry are depicted as butchers armed with axes reeking with the blood of the victims."[1]
The text reads: "Down with 'em! Chop em down my brave boys: give them no quarter they want to take our Beef & Pudding from us! ---- & remember the more you kill the less poor rates you'll have to pay so go at it Lads show your courage & your Loyalty"
It happened in Pennsylvania and plenty of other places. Nothing will change as we are now trained in the "ME " society. The public are more interested in the cavortings of Princes to be bothered about the other guy.If you stand up for the other chap you will soon have a plug put in your mouth by the tools of big buisnes that contronl communications etc.
There will be the usual inquiries conducted by the same mentality that derive their power by being compliant beans to the system status quo. Nothing will change as nobody is bothered. remember the saying about the 4 people "Nobody ,Somebody, Anybody and Everybody"

Condolences to the familys of the miners who were murdered by the tools of the big business.

author by John Chilembwepublication date Mon Aug 27, 2012 03:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Colour bar and colour domination was at the heart of apartheid, and this immoral ideology was opposed actively in South Africa and other countries between 1948 and 1994. But, as history repeats itself again and again, yesterday's liberators can become today's tyrants. Apartheid ideology backed colour and class domination. Whether a country has a rainbow flag, a green flag, a red banner flag or a union jack flag doesn't matter if organised labour is suppressed and shot down while trying to better its pay and working conditions.

In rainbow South Africa the multiracial state is not neutral. The power of organised capital is much more equal than the power of organised labour. Bear that fact in mind when discussing the evils of apartheid and the evils of postapartheid.

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