Alec Thraves speaks at South African miners' national strike committee founding press conference

Condemnation of murderous attacks on South African miners

Alec Thraves, a leader of Socialist Party Wales, spoke in support of South African miners at a press conference at Marikana as South African miners looked to spread their dispute.

Alec was on a visit to assist the Democratic Socialist Movement, the South African sister party to the Socialist Party in the Committe for a Workers' International (CWI). The DSM has played a leading role in the miners' strikes and the struggle to organise South Afridcan miners after the failure of the corrupted National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to adequately represent them.

100,000 South African miners are out on strike demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 a month (890). The strike spread after platinum miners at Marikana won a big victory over British mining corporation Lonmin with a 22% pay rise. This victory was won at a cost with 40 miners killed in the strike including 34 murdered by police at the Marikana massacre on August 16th.

The miners have had to fight against their old leadership. The NUM refused to support their claim or strike, its leaders so discredited that they only dare to address workers protected by guns, life guards and police armoured vehicles. The NUM leadership even defended the role of the police in massacring workers at Marikana, claiming the pre-planned massacre was an act of 'self defence'.

The current role of the NUM can be seen in this recommendation in the South african Business Daily: "The NUM is the thoughtful, considered heart of the union movement here. Cyril Ramaphosa [former NUM leader, now big-businessman] and Kgalema Motlanthe [South African deputy president], for instance, come out of it. As a union it is a powerful voice of reason in an often loud and rash movement. It appreciates and values private capital and strong companies. Business everywhere should be hoping the union finds a way to defend itself effectively." An endorsement like this in the editorial of a bosses' newspaper is in reality the obituary of any self-respecting trade union organisation.

The NUM has been taken over by a corrupt leadership which actually condemned their modest claims so the workers have had to improvise new organisation and reached out to NUM members. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) which, like the NUM, played a heroic role in organising workers during the struggle against apartheid has also succumbed to playing a class collaborationist role over the last two decades since the fall of apartheid. It is sponsored by Patrice Motsepe, a billionaire.

Also exposed has been the ANC and the government of Jacob Zuma. The ANC has moved away from its working class base and become the party of the rich and privileged elite. The Marikana massacre carried out by the South African police force was reminiscent of the Sharpeville and Soweto massacres by the apartheid regime, but this was carried out under the ANC government. The Democratic Socialist Movement is calling for the formation of a new mass workers party in South Africa to replace the discredited ANC.

Full reports of the events in the South African miners' strike can be seen here

The Rustenburg Joint Strike Coordinationg Committee writes: "Well over 100,000 mine workers are on strike across the country for demands that have key common denominators workers are all fighting for a R12 500 basic salary, for equal pay for equal work, an end to sub-contracting, and in protest against the deadly lack of safety underground and the sub-human living conditions in mining communities.

"On Saturday October 13, 2012, the Rustenburg Joint Strike Coordinating Committee, which co-ordinates the strikes of the wider Rustenburg mines, including Anglo Platinum, Samancor and Royal Bafokeng Platinum, hosted a first national strike committee meeting in Marikana. We are coming together to agree on joint and coordinated action. Our struggle is one, and its high time that we come together to make sure that is felt by the employers", said Gadaffi Mdoda, a member of the Rustenburg Joint Strike Coordinating Committee and an Anglo Platinum worker.

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