Friday, August 17, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Rabble-rousing trade unionists (COSATU) and unreformed communists (SACP) have turned the ruling ANC from a governing coalition into a band of pillagers. Therefore, Zuma relying on them to silence critics like Zapiro should serve as a dire warning of what South Africa will become under his leadership.
(“Zuma issues fatwa against cartoonist Zapiro,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 22, 2008)
As this quotes indicates, I feared for South Africa under the leadership of Jacob Zuma. Not least because he rose to power primarily by stoking and courting the mob-like passions of poor, uneducated South Africans.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that these poor, uneducated South Africans have now resorted to rabble-rousing tactics to get better wages and other benefits: President Zuma himself led them to believe that these are the least to which they were entitled from day one of his presidency. But we have seen the inevitable consequences of his brand of mindless populism play out (in the extreme) in Zimbabwe.
There, President Mugabe’s courting and stoking of the mob-like passions of thousands of farmers led them to believe they were entitled to use tribal weapons/tools (i.e., machetes, spears, and sticks) to seize the property of rich White farmers. Unfortunately, their actions turned Zimbabwe from the breadbasket of Africa into the basket case it is today.
Here, Zuma’s rhetoric led thousands of poor Black miners to believe they were entitled to strike and use similar tribal weapons/tools to extract more than a doubling of their wages from rich White mine owners (and their token Black shareholders).
Significantly, though, conflicts raged among the Lonmin miners themselves for weeks as competing unions engaged in a power struggle to ensure solidarity within their ranks. This resulted in the killing of at least 10 miners even before the police moved in yesterday to break up their strike.
What unfolded, alas, was the kind of massacre all South Africans must have thought was relegated, along with Sharpeville and other massacres, to their tortured history under Apartheid. The police, many of them Black, claim they were forced to open fire when the miners charged their lines: 34 miners were killed and many more wounded. No policeman has been reported chopped up or speared.
This massacre is bad enough of course. But the analogy to Zimbabwe is instructive. Because just as that country was a thriving producer of farm products before similar strife turned it into a basket case, South Africa is now risking its status as the world’s leading producer of platinum being irreparably harmed.
Because far from the police resolving the matter, surviving miners have vowed to continue their strike … by any means necessary. Mind you, one cannot blame them for demanding more pay when the mine owners and their investors are making out like robber barons on Wall Street.
‘We made the A.N.C. what it is today, but they have no time for us,’ the union leader said, asking that his name be withheld because he feared reprisals from the government. ‘Nothing has changed, only the people on top, and they just keep getting more money.’
(New York Times, August 17, 2012)
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Zuma cut short a trip to Mozambique today to appeal at the site of this massacre for the miners to return to the negotiating table. But this is rather like an al-Qaeda leader appealing to jihadists to take their grievances to the UN.
Mandela must be rolling his eyes over in ironic despair. What a tragic mess!
Zuma issues fatwa