THE Marikana incident and subsequent death of the many has shown to government, business and South Africa at large that there is a gaping need for intervention in the mining sector. It may not necessarily be an aggressive nationalisation, as proposed by others, but it shows beyond any reasonable doubt that there is a need for state intervention.
The turn of events has also shown that unions need to be in touch with the workers down in the trenches. NUM was dealt a blow when it was apparent that it was not in charge of the situation.
Salt was even added to its wound when the striking workers made it clear that they did not want to associate with NUM. Trade unions need to undertake some introspection as to whether they are still relevant and in touch with their membership, or whether they are just satisfied with the quantity and mass membership.
This situation is what might befall the ANC if it is casual in its approach to development and redistribution to the majority. This attitude that the ANC will rule until Jesus comes is the same attitude that might contribute to the organisation's downfall if we not careful.
It goes without saying that we have a serious problem in the police system.
What the police did in killing those protesters was downright ill-disciplined and it cannot be justified. The South African Police Service is suppose to protect the country's citizens and not view them as enemies.
The brute force and slogans like "shoot to kill" by former police commissioner Bheki Cele are a direct manifestation of this. The government needs to deal harshly with police officers who think that by merely wearing a blue uniform, they are superior to everyone and can do as they please.
The new police commissioner and the government need to beef up the complaints commission against police misconduct and brutality to citizens.
The reign of terror that is occurring must come to a complete end.
I hope it won't be habitual that for workers to get a wage increase lives have to be lost and blood has to be shed.
Workers in any democratic society have the right to protest and affiliate.
The workers who intimidated others, and killed police and fellow workers need to be brought to book.
This thing of vandalism of state infrastructure, brutality and even murder during strikes is not the tradition of the trade union movement.
The point of a strike is to hit the employer where it hurts most: profit maximisation, and therefore the murders, bloodshed and intimidation are just not part of the plan.
As there is a wave of other wage strikes in other mines throughout the country, I wish unions, workers, the CCMA, government and business will take stock of the Marikana events and not allow their situations to deteriorate to those catastrophic levels. In our bid to build a developmental state and a rainbow nation, let us all never allow such situations to characterise who we are.
South Africa is not a barbaric nation whose citizens are ready to slaughter and kill one another. We are not a savage country that is ruled by chaos, terror and fear, but rather a country of reconciliation and peace.
We are a thriving democracy and we need to start acting as such.
I hope the Marikana events have taught us all a lesson and as we learn these bitter lessons, may we conclude with one united voice that we never want to go back there again.
Luvuyo Ponase, Nafcoc Youth Nelson Mandela Bay regional secretary