News / Africa

S. African Miners' Deaths Test ANC's Popularity

A group of protestors holds placards as a large crowd follows retired judge Ian Farlam and his team as they inspect the area where the bodies of mine workers were found after the shootings at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana near Rustenburg, South Africa, October 1, 2012.
A group of protestors holds placards as a large crowd follows retired judge Ian Farlam and his team as they inspect the area where the bodies of mine workers were found after the shootings at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana near Rustenburg, South Africa, October 1, 2012.
Anita Powell
South Africa was stunned by the images of police killing 34 striking miners earlier this year, an act of police-inflicted carnage not seen since the apartheid days.  But four months after the strike and shooting at the Marikana platinum mine, the event has changed South African workers' perceptions about the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

As South Africa's ruling party meets this week to hash out leadership and policy issues, there is growing discontent among a group considered vital to their base: the workers.

The ANC's image was dented on August 16, when police fired into a crowd of striking miners at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana.  After the dust settled, 34 of the wildcat strikers were dead.  Police said they fired in self-defense; an investigation is ongoing.

The killings angered many South African workers, especially in the mining sector, and many say they can't keep supporting the party that promised them equality and freedom in the post-apartheid era.

Perhaps miner Tholakele Dlunga said it best in November when he stood up in front of a crowd in Johannesburg and spoke emotionally about the events surrounding the strike at the Lonmin mine.

In the end, the workers at the Lonmin platinum mine got a settlement close to the raise they were seeking.

But if Dlunga, who goes by the name Bhele, is any indication, they lost their faith.

The police, he said through an interpreter, don't understand we are workers and we are fighting for our right to an increase.  

Bhele said the shooting changed his politics. We will not vote for the ANC, he said, because the ANC killed our people.  We are not sure that we will even vote.

South Africa remains a country riven by inequality. The average white household makes nearly six times what an average black household makes, according to recently released census figures.
 
This, says the ANC Youth League, highlights the message they have been pushing: that political freedom without economic emancipation is meaningless.

Youth League spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Khawe says the league is reaching out to young workers.  The league is pushing for a bolder program of land redistribution and nationalization of some mining operations, which it says should level the playing field.

Sangoni-Khawe also says the ANC's poor leadership has contributed to the loss of faith.

 "We may have lost the confidence of the people as the ANC, because it no longer became about the people, but it rather became about individuals at any other level seeking to rather position themselves and what it is they can gain from leading in those structures rather than leading them properly," said Sangoni-Khawe.  "So we will be keen, and it is something we are doing, where we are engaging workers in those particular sectors."

Analyst Steven Friedman, director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, says no one should worry about workers' change of allegiance.

"That's not concerning, we live in a democracy," Friedman noted.  "If people don't want to vote for the ANC, they're perfectly entitled to vote for someone else, and in fact that's what they did.  There was a municipal election in Marikana, and the ANC lost to the independent candidate."

The ANC's hold on the country as a whole will be tested in the next national elections, set for 2014.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid