April 30 marks one month since the Marikana Commission handed over its report on the findings of the Commission to President Jacob Zuma. After two years of proceedings, the Commission has considered all the evidence led at the Commission and has made recommendations to the South African government. The report has been with President Zuma since 31 March 2015. Khulumani believes that the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations could facilitate the rebuilding of the country’s broken social pacts.
The Marikana Massacre of 16 August 2012 in which striking workers and police officers clashed, resulting in 34 deaths, saw the largest number of civilians killed by security forces since the end of apartheid. The strike marked the culmination of a process of attrition amongst traditional unions which had lost the trust of their members on the basis of a perceived prioritising of the interests of union officials in collusion with mine management, over the interests and needs of workers. The social distance between union leaders and workers had been growing steadily. For the striking mine workers, Professor Edward Webster explains, (At the coalface, Independent World of Work, April 2015), the strike had been about bread-and-butter issues in the face of the exploitative practices of global financial institutions. To restore an effective labour regime would require, in his words, a social pact that "must reach down to the workplace leadership" (beyond the top-tier actors) and must address "workplace culture, productivity and reform." Another need is for the restoration of faith in Nedlac as an effective forum for achieving consensus amongst different strategic partners. The submission by government of its proposed amendments to employment legislation directly to Parliament, without having them debated at Nedlac first, had been a major blow to the credibility of the institution and to its contribution to the mediation of social conflict in the society.
The time for new social pacts in South Africa has come. Khulumani anticipate that the recommendations of the Marikana Commission could contribute to the rebuilding of very necessary social pacts in the country, driven by local-level organising of a movement for social reconstruction in which moral power is leveraged on the basis of calls for the restoration of the dignity of and justice for all socially devalued and economically marginalised sectors of our society. Khulumani supports the ongoing mobilisation and organisation of campaigns for social inclusion and for the extension of social security coverage in the form of basic income security guarantees and essential health care. One of these campaigns is Khulumani’s campaign for the adoption of innovative reparations provisions for those still most left out as a result of the losses they sustained in the struggle for freedom and for justice in South Africa. A new reparations regime has never been more important than in this post-Marikana era.
- For comment, please contact Dr Marjorie Jobson (082 268 0223) or Ms Nomarussia Bonase (0608789778)