DEMOCRATIC LEFT FRONT
17 September 2012
PRESS STATEMENT: Defend the right to strike!
In the view of the Democratic Left Front (DLF), the crackdown by soldiers and police in Marikana represents a serious escalation of authoritarian repression against the working class by the ANC government. It has declared a de facto state of emergency in the mining sector.
Statements by Zuma on Thursday 13 September and since by other ministers and ANC leaders threaten to stop “illegal gatherings, incitement and threats of violence”. Mantashe speaks of the existence of “anarchy”. We are told that the “full might of the law” will be used to curb further unrest. The further use of live ammunition has not been ruled out by police spokespeople. There is talk of “illegal strikes” when no strikes are illegal in South Africa. They are simply protected or unprotected. The talk further delegitimizes unprotected strikes.
The ANC government is now talking like the hated apartheid regime. It is openly declaring itself anti-working-class. It wants instead to protect the interests of foreign mining bosses like those of Lonmin in the brutal exploitation of cheap labour-brokered labour. It is the same protection for foreign investors that is behind the decision for prospecting for fracking in the Karoo to go ahead, without any adequate scientific justification.
The ANC government, put into power by the votes of working people, is threatening the right to strike, an absolute right won by the workers in our struggle for democracy and a decent life for all. The talk of “illegal gatherings” is a threat to freedom of assembly. The police are wrongly interpreting the powers given them in Section 9 of Act 205 of 1995, which are not meant to prohibit gatherings but to prevent serious harm once a gathering has taken place.
Under this government, officials of the national, provincial and local state are filthy with corruption. But the ANC government has not set the police to root this out. Instead it tolerates corruption, and demands that the police attack the working class.
Zuma attacks people who “instigate miners to operate in a particular way”. This hardly veiled attack on Julius Malema is a convenient way of threatening anyone who supports the demands of the mineworkers on strike at Marikana and elsewhere.
The ANC crackdown undermines collective bargaining. It cuts across the beginnings of progress made on the negotiation front, where Lonmin has begun making offers of wage increases (pitiful as yet) to the striking workers. Will workers be allowed to meet to decide whether to accept offers made to them by the mining companies?
It is incumbent on the working class and all democrats to defend the right to strike! The ANC government wants to drive mineworkers back to work without winning their demands. But they will not succeed! The strength of the working class will triumph over the authoritarian ANC government!
As the DLF, we demand:
· Call the military back to barracks! Withdraw police from the platinum belt!
· Arrest all police involved in the murder of Marikana workers!
· Release and drop all charges against arrested mineworkers!
· R12,500 wage for mineworkers!
· An end to state intimidation and harassment of the Marikana workers, their families and communities;
· Delivery of housing and public services to the Marikana communities and all mining communities in South Africa;
· Compensation to the workers for violence endured at the hands of the police.
FOR COMMENTS, CONTACT:
Ayanda Kota - 078 625 6462
Martin Legassick - 083 417 6837
Noor Nieftagodien - 082 457 4103
Vishwas Satgar - 082 775 3420
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