‘For the white man, one man, one vote would be the greatest solution! It would encourage competition amongst blacks, you see, and it would eliminate the most important ground for critique from abroad of the present regime. But it would not change the position of economic oppression of blacks. That
would remain the same.’ The South African revolutionary Steve Biko, speaking in 1972.
It was ironic that this prophecy uttered by Steve Biko came to fruition more than 20 years later when the apartheid regime was ended in 1994. The rotten, racist laws disappeared as well as ‘political’ apartheid in terms of voting rights for the black majority and whole world celebrated that ‘democracy’ was taking the place of racial dictatorship. There was no widespread understanding at the time, however, that the negotiated settlement between the ANC and the white upper class ensured that economic inequality would remained exactly as it had always been.
Certainly, poverty, unemployment and hardship have risen considerably since the ‘day of freedom’ in 1994 as the ANC leadership has been totally assimilated into the logic of neoliberalism. The first Prime Minister Thabo Mbeki proudly proclaimed in 1996 that he was a ‘Thatcherite’ while he strengthened the unfettered privatisation of the country’s services. The gap between rich and poor widened, and the number who existed on £1 a day doubled from two million in 1994 to four million in 2006. In the same period, the quality of life decreased among the 50% poorest in the country, 98% of which is made up of the black community, with chronic malnutrition and infant mortality continuing to worsen.
The neoliberal corporate leadership believed that it was necessary for a rich black elite to develop in the new era in South Africa to take possession of the wealth produced on the backs of its poorest people. The Black Empowerment Programme ensured that ANC leaders such as Cyril Ramphosa ended up as millionaires and businessmen with a personal investment in this wretched system.
It is this same system that created the unacceptable economic conditions in which the horrible massacre took place at one
of Lonmin’s platinum mines last Thursday. Lonmin Mines, which is an English corporation, has a close association with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which is controlled by Cyril Ramphosa who sits on the Lonmin’s board of directors. There is a powerful connection between this trade union and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is an ally for the ANC Government.
There is a sharp contrast between the workers’ salary in this platinum mine and the profits of the English corporation and the NUM leadership generally, which signed up to the current unjust pay deal, and workers loyal to the mineworkers union AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) began protesting last week for a pay rise to 12,500 rand (£955) per month.
A week of fierce protest ensued at the mine in Marikana and ten people were killed; including workers, police and security guards. Lonmin, the third largest platinum producer in the world, had to suspend platinum production, because of the workers’ strike and the furious battle between the trade unions.
As regularly happens in these disputes, the state sided with the powerful corporation and the capitalist union when they sent the South African police force in to use ‘maximum force’ against the poor, hungry strikers. They shot at the crowd without mercy, and the early estimate is that 34 miners were killed and 78 others were injured.
The world’s television cameras saw that the ANC Government was responsible for another Sharpeville in which the black poor fighting for their rights were killed. A deadly massacre, which was as bloody as any massacre from the worst years in the country’s history, which shows that economic apartheid is still at its height. There is hope, however, that the people will have the courage to wage another battle against apartheid’s latest upper classes. May they succeed!
Slad san Afraic Theas – Maireann Cinedheighilt go fóill!
‘For the white man, one man, one vote would be the greatest solution! It would encourage competition amongst blacks, you see, and it would eliminate the most important ground for critique from abroad of the present regime. But it would not change the position of economic oppression of blacks. That would remain the same.’ An réabhlóidí ón Afraic Theas, Steve Biko ag caint in 1972.
B’íorónach go dtáinig ann don rabhadh tairngreachta seo ó
bhéal Steve Biko níos mó na 20 bliain níos faide anonn nuair a cuireadh deireadh leis an réimeas cinedheighilte in 1994. D’imigh na dlíthe suaracha, cíníocha agus an cinedheighilt ‘polaitiúil’ maidir le ceart vótála don mhóramh ghorm agus rinne an domhan mór céiliúradh go raibh ‘daonlathas’ ag glacadh áit na deachtóireachta ciníche. Ní raibh an tuiscint fhorleathan ag an am, áfach, gur chinntigh an socrú idirbheartaíochta idir an ANC agus na huasalaicmí geala go bhfanfadh éagothromas eacnamaíochta go díreach mar a bhí ariamh.
Go deimhin, d’ardaigh an bochtanas, dífhostaíocht agus anró méid millteanach ó ‘lá na saoirse’ in 1994 i leith agus ceannaireacht an ANC comhshamhlaithe go hiomlán ag loighic an nualiobrálachais. Dhearbhaigh an chéad Phríomhaire Thabo Mbeki go bródúil in 1996 gur ‘Thatcherite’ a bhí ann agus é ag neartú príobhaidiú gan srian ar sheirbhísí na tíre. Mhéadaigh an
bearna idir lucht an rachmais agus na bochtáin, leis an mhéid a mhair ar £1 amháin in aghaidh an lae ag dúbailt ó dhá mhilliún in 1994 go ceithre mhilliún in 2006.
Sa tréimhse chéanna, d’ísligh an caighdeán maireachtála i measc an 50% is boichte sa tír, arbh don phobal gorm 98% acu, le míchothú ainsealach agus mortlaíocht naíonán ag dul chun donais i rith an ama.
D’aithin ceannaireacht chorparáideach an nualiobrálachais go raibh sé riachtanach go bhforbrófar aicme shaibhir ghorm sa ré úr san Afraic Theas chun comhsheilbh a ghlacadh ar an rachmas a shíolraigh ó bhochtanas na cosmhuintire.
Chinntigh an Black Enpowerment Programme gur chríochnaigh ceannairí san ANC ar nós Cyril Ramphosa ina mhilliúnaí agus fear gnó le hinfheistíocht phearsanta sa chórás suarach seo.
Is an córas céanna seo a chruthaigh na cúinsí eacnamaíochta doghlactha inar tharla an sléacht uafásach ag an mhianach platanam de chuid Lonmin ar an Déardaoin seo caite. Tá dlúthbhaint ghnó ag an Mhianach Lonmin, atá ina chorparáid Shasanach, le Ceardchumann Náisiúnta na Mianadóirí (NUM), atá faoi stiúir Cyril Ramaphosa a shuíonn ar Bhord Stiúrtha Lonmin.
Tá comhcheangal cumhachtach ann idir an ceardchumann seo agus Comhdháil Cheardchumann na hAfraice Theas (Cosatu), atá mar chomhghuaillí le Rialtas an ANC.Le codarsnacht ghéar idir thuarastal na n-oibrithe sa mhianach platanam seo agus scálaí brabúis na corparáide Sasanaí agus ceannaireacht an NUM i gcoitinne, a shínigh suas don mhargadh tuarastail éagothrom reatha, chuir na hoibrithe atá dílis don cheardchumann mhianadóireachta AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) tús la hagóidíocht an tseachtain seo caite ar son ardú tuarastail chuig 12,500 rand (£955) in aghaidh na míosa.
Bhí seachtain fhíochmhar agóidíochta ag an mhianach i Marikana agus maraíodh deichniúr; oibrithe, péas agus fír shlándála ina measc. B’éigean do Lonmin, atá ar an tríú táirgeoir platanaim is mó ar domhan, an táirgeadh mianadóireacht a chealú, mar gheall ar stailc na n-oibrithe agus an cath fíochmhar idir na ceardchumainn.
Mar a tharlaíonn go hiondúil sna hachrainn seo, thaobhaigh an stát leis an chorparáid chumhachtach agus an ceardchumann rachmasach nuair a chuir said péasfhórsa na hAfraice Theas isteach chun an ‘uasmhéid fórsa’ a úsáid in éadan na stailceoirí bochta, ocracha. Scaoil siad ar an slua go neamhthrócaireach, dúnmharaíodh 34 mianadóirí agus gortaíodh 78 eile.
Chonaic ceamaraí teilifíse an domhain mhóir go raibh Rialtas an ANC freagrach as Sharpeville eile inar maraíodh bochtáin ghorma ag troid ar son a gcearta. Sléacht marfach, a bhí chomh fuilteach le hár ar bith ó na blianta is measa i stair na tíre, a léiríonn go bhfuil cinedheighilt eacnamaíochta i mbarr réime go fóill. Tá dóchas ann, áfach, go mbeidh misneach ag an chosmhuintir troid fhíochmhar eile a chuir ar na huasalaicmí cinedheighilte is déanaí. Go n-éirí leo!