By now you’ve probably heard that South African police opened fire on striking platinum miners, killing 34 and wounding 78. The miners were renegades from the corporatist National Union of Mineworkers and were attempting to gain rights for a new, more militant union called the Association of Mine Workers and Construction Union. The workers were armed with machetes and homemade weapons, but the outright massacre by the police force seems uncalled for and outrageous.
For many, the African National Congress opening fire on protestors reminds them of the apartheid state opening fire on ANC members protesting the oppression they faced. But then that’s not too surprising, given the corruption and poor governance of the ANC since Mandela stepped down. It also shows the great frustration of the South African population who believed their lives would be transformed when apartheid ended. There are many reasons for the slow pace of change–but ANC dominance over the state does not help.
This should also serve as a reminder that the days of violent suppression of labor unions may be gone in the United States, but are still alive and well in many places around the world, often involving western companies. In this case, the mine is owned by Lonmin, a London-based corporation.
Here’s some links with additional information by people who know much more about South Africa than I do:
You can also watch the footage. If you can stand watching the ANC gun down miners, here it is. If not, I don’t recommend it.