Friday, August 31, 2012

The ANC-state murders South African miners and charges the rest with "common purpose"

It is right to admire Nelson Mandela, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the nonviolent transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are a model to the world.

But the state, led by the African National Congress and supported by the main unions and the Communist party, is not nonviolent. Faced with a miners' strike at the Marikana mine, the police murdered 34 strikers. Not content with this atrocity, the Prosecutors' office charged the rest of the 270 workers under arrest for striking with the murder of the 34. Perhaps those wounded by the police are being prosecuted because they "shot themselves." Perhaps the prosecutors will dig up the corpses of the 34 and charge them with "self-murder."

The Associated Press and others refer to an apartheid law which continues in democratic South Africa. Shamefully, it does. But the doctrine of common purpose is exactly the same as joint enterprise in Britain and complicity in the United States. See here, here, here and here. In Britain, Jordan Cunliffe, a blind white then 16 year old, is now serving a life sentence because he had gone fishing with a group of young men, two of whom had gotten in a fight with a homeowner. One kicked the home-owner in the throat in which he had a medical device implanted and murdered him. He and the other man who participated in the fight were rightly charged.

But Jordan who was legally blind - had keracotonus, could see only colors - and one of a crowd - how was he guilty of murder? Joint enterprise does not require the prosecution to say.

"Common purpose" in South Africa is a satire even of this satire, Oppressed miners go on strike, the government horrendously murders 34 of them, and then charges the miners themselves with the deaths (no police officers have so far been indicted). The government murders and then uses the courts to suppress - drastically - protest from below against the horrors of mining, including these murders by the police.

For the "law," it is 1984 - the murdered and their comrades become...the murderers.

In the case of apartheid, the ANC, supported by the Communist Party, settled with the old regime nonviolently.

In the case of a London mining company, the ANC-state murders the miners and charges the miners with the death of their comrades.

Yes, the ANC has revived the violence of apartheid in the service of capitalism.

But it also carries out the latest in draconian police techniques, of which England (17% of prisoners with life sentences compared to 3% everywhere else in Europe, aside from Russia) and the United States (2.3 million prisoners, 25% of the world's prisoners, the biggest police state in the world even under President Obama - and look to Romney to make "America" even more "number one" as a police state) are the pioneers.

The Anglo-Dutch colonial regime had long roots in this worst feature of Anglo-Saxon law.

The basic criterion of that law, habaes corpus - the right to a day in court and not to be tortured - is disgraced by the doctrines of "common purpose" and "joint enterprise." In contrast, the "laws" of a tyranny enable the regime to seize suspects, torture them, and throw them away. Tyranny enables the "authorities" to murder strikes and then...charge the strikers with murder.

The bright lights in the Prosecutor's office asked themselves "did the miners shoot themselves?" and answered: "Yes!"

The democratic outrage, in South Africa and around the world, is strong. An ANC spokesman today tried to distance the government from the prosecutor's actions.

But nonviolence needs to be consistent and to be a way of changing the society to make it decent, to abolish not only apartheid in the mines but dangerous and ultimately exploitative conditions. The miners stood for this. The ANC and the main trade union which support it not only do not, but perpetrated this shooting and the further horror about "justice."

Truth and Reconciliation this is not.


Common Dreams
08.31.12 - 1:13 PM
In South Africa, Striking Miners Charged with Murder of Those Shot By Police

In a bizarre twist, the 270 miners arrested during violent strikes in South Africa have been charged under an obscure apartheid-era law with the murder of 34 colleagues shot dead by police. The action - along with charges of attempted murder for 78 miners injured and complaints by many jailed miners that they've been beaten - has prompted an outcry among South Africans wondering how much has changed since the end of apartheid.

"The policemen who killed those people are not in custody, not even one of them," said Julius Malema, former African National Congress Youth leader who was expelled from the ANC. "This is madness."

the photo would not reproduce

A group of men carry the coffin of Mpuzeni Ngxande, one of 34 striking miners killed by police.

South Africa’s Unfinished Revolution and the Massacre at Marikana
Wed, 08/22/2012

The massacre of 34 miners at Marikana lays bare the central contradiction of the South African “arrangement.” Back in 1994, “the ‘revolution’ was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders.” The regime now represses Black workers on behalf of capital.

South Africa’s Unfinished Revolution and the Massacre at Marikana
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

When thousands of miners went on strike at South Africa’s largest platinum mine, in Marikana, they were confronting not only the London-based owners, but the South African state, which since 1994 has been dominated by the African National Congress (ANC); COSATU, the Congress of South African Trade Unions; and the South African Communist Party. This week, the full weight of the state was brought down on the Black miners, 34 of whom were massacred by police gunfire. Many of the survivors face charges of murder in the earlier deaths of two policemen and eight other miners.[this is a preceding use of common purpose, which the state has been working at].

The National Union of Mineworkers, whose representation the strikers rejected, and the Communist Party head in the region claim the strikers are at fault, that they have committed the sin of choosing an alternative union to argue their case for higher wages and, therefore, deserve severe punishment. They are “anarchists,” say these two allies of the South African state, and guilty of fomenting “dual unionism” – which is now, apparently, a capital crime. With a straight face, the Communist Party had the gall to call on all South African workers to “remain united in the fight against exploitation under capitalism.”

That is precisely what the Marikana miners were doing – the struggle they gave their lives for. However, since the peaceful transition to state power to the ANC and its very junior partners, the COSATU unions and the Communist Party, in 1994, the South African state has had different priorities. The “revolution” was put on indefinite hold, so that a new Black capitalist class could be created, largely from the ranks of well-connected members of the ruling party and even union leaders. It is only logical that, if the priority of the state is to nurture Black capitalists, then it must maintain and defend capitalism. This is the central contradiction of the South African arrangement, and the massacre at Marikana is its inevitable result.

“The central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.”

The 1994 agreement between Nelson Mandela’s ANC and the white South African regime was a pact with the devil, which could only be tolerated by the masses of the country’s poor because it was seen as averting a bloodbath, and because it was assumed to be temporary. But, 18 years later, the arrangement has calcified into a bizarre protectorate for foreign white capital and the small class of Blacks that have attached themselves to the global rich. Apologists for the African National Congress regime will prattle on about the “complexity” of the issue, but the central truth is that South Africa did not complete its revolution.

The fundamental contradictions of the rule of the many by the few, remain in place – only now, another layer of repression has been added: a Black aristocracy that has soaked itself in the blood of the miners of Marikana.

South Africa remains the continent's best hope for a fundamental break with colonialism in its new forms. But, as in all anti-colonial struggles, the biggest casualties will occur in the clash between those who truly desire liberation, and those who are intent on an accommodation with the old master.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

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