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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid