Daily Israel Report

Lonmin Massacre Raises Questions On South Africa's Evolution

The shooting of 34 miners at the Longmin platinum mine raised questions about whether genuine change has occurred in South Africa
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/24/2012, 6:25 AM

Malema with miners
Malema with miners
Reuters

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has hit back against the South African decision to label products manufactured in Judea and Samaria in a different way from those made in Israel.

He referred South Africa to the 34 strikers killed in the Lonmin platinum mine . The deputy foreign minister claimed that the massacre proved that South Africa was still an apartheid state.

Ayalon's comments have come against a backdrop of similar comments in the South African press. Some newspapers have questioned how much South Africa has progressed since the end of white rule in 1994.

While the black African national Congress dominates South African politics, a charge that has been made by opponents to the left of the ANC is that the country's economics are still dominated by the whites who choose to operate behind the scenes. Blacks have also been allowed to partake of the country's economic bounty and this has given rise to a politically connected black bourgeoisie.

Economic change has not trickled down to the average South African.

The rock drillers in the platinum mine struck for substantially higher wages. They make far less than similar rock drillers in Australia, while the company's executives make millions in bonuses. The strike was also a rebuke against the National Union of Mine Workers that is closely linked with the ANC and most of the strikers joined the more radical Association of Mine Workers and Construction. The militants tried to enforce the strike using machetes and cudgels. They  hacked to death two policemen and burned two guards to death.

The climax was the police shooting of 34 strikers who had opened fire at police. At first I South African president Jacob Zuma took a hands-off attitude towards the strike and immediately after the event refused to condemn the police.  He contented himself with decrying violence "We believe there is enough space in our democratic order for any dispute to be resolved through dialogue without any breaches of the law or violence.",

After the reaction in the press, Zuma expressed his sympathy and promised an investigation via a commission.

The ANC interceded with the mine owners to call off an ultimatum that would sack miners who did not return to their job. In the meantime,Julius Malema the firebrand former youth leader of the ANC, who was expelled from the party for charges against Zuma, expressed his sympathy for the striking miners and attacked his former ANC comrades. He alleged that ANC bigwigs held shares in the mine and therefore were opposed to granting pay raises to the minors.