THE Marikana incident reminds us of the painful past and sets our clocks three decades back. It prompts us to dig deep in our soul as a nation and take stock of what we have achieved so far in the post-apartheid era.
But the most important question is: have we succeeded in untangling the shackles of our gloomy past?
Various critical issues as well as sequence of events led to the demise of those mine workers:
- Our habit as a nation to resort to violence in finding solutions to most of our problems and disputes has not left our psyche since it was entrenched during apartheid. Although we had the TRC to heal the wounds and pains of our past, we forgot to debrief our nation about violence as a means of finding solutions;
- The stand-off between unions which are at loggerheads for membership and jostling for power in those mines. Some union bosses are accused of living in opulence and having lost touch with the plight of workers;
- The socio-economic and dire conditions under which those workers live, with no access to basic service delivery infrastructure such as water, sanitation and electricity;
- The issue of senior politicians with vested business interests in the mining sector. Their compromised leadership stature led to the conspicuous absence of much needed political leadership intervention a week before the tragedy occurred.
Instead, political leadership chose to outsource its responsibility to the police, who have been so often encouraged by their bosses to be trigger happy;
- It is difficult and costly for the average man on the street to access justice.
In a society predisposed to a violent history, criminal elements become the means to vent frustration and to get attention.
Nelson Mandela Bay metro has its own Marikana conditions brewing. For instance, in our townships, we have seen attacks beamed on national television on community members who claim to represent a particular faction in the ruling party.
Couple this to many service delivery protests as we have seen in Walmer Township and KwaNobuhle recently. Some in the ruling party circles dismiss these as a product of third forces, and yet terrible conditions persist and crumbling infrastructure is very evident in those communities.
Political leaders with bruised egos are still locked in factional squabbles and battles. They are effectively holding this metro's residents to ransom. They are responsible for delaying many critical service delivery necessities.
We must heed lessons from the Marikana saga as a nation and even more so as political leaders of this beloved Nelson Mandela Bay metro. Our communities out there are foundering.
Knight Mali, DA caucus spokesman, Nelson Mandela Bay