The following media release was issued on 6 September 2012
‘President and Deputy Must Act Together on Marikana’ Says Anglican Archbishop after Visit
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town has called on President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to pay a joint visit to the platinum mining area of North-West Province, warning that the region is ‘on a knife edge’.
Dr Makgoba said, in a statement issued after sitting in on peace talks in Rustenburg, ‘It would be of great symbolic importance for our country's leader and a former union general secretary to be seen working closely together to address the issues of workers and local communities.’
Professing himself ‘optimistic’, the Anglican Archbishop nonetheless added ‘I could not help but fear in Marikana yesterday that we are living through the calm before a storm.’ He warned that ‘the living conditions and issues in the mining community are the stuff of which revolution is made. There is real urgency in these matters, and I pray that the Presidency and all business leaders will act quickly and effectively on these cancerous developments. ’He called for Judge Ian Farlam to receive every assistance in the Commission of Inquiry.
He commended the progress made towards a peaceful way forward, and the constructive role of the South African Council of Churches and local clergy, and called on all South Africans to rekindle the vision of a free, fair, just, South Africa which inspired the peaceful transition to democracy, and to work and pray to bring it about. ‘Never again must “blood bath” become a possibility’ he said.
Full Text of Archbishop’s Statement
On 5 September, I returned to the North-West Province, with the President and General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC). We visited Marikana and then the Rustenburg Civic Centre, to attend the talks between worker representatives, unions, mine management, and the Department of Labour. Finding a peaceful way forward was the prime concern of almost everyone present, though the atmosphere of hope was accompanied by the sort of robust speaking that can sound threatening, even terrifying, to those not used to South Africans’ frank talk.
As we drove away later – passing both Karee West, and Marikana Mine, Nkaneng camp, Wonderkop and the shaft head – it was as if the land spoke deep in my soul, saying ‘All is not well’. I could not help but fear we are living in the calm before a storm. We are on a knife edge. The dire states of everything from living conditions to issues in the mining community are the stuff from which revulsion follows and revolution is too easily made. We wish the peace efforts ‘Godspeed’, upholding all those involved, and those like the SACC and local clergy who are doing so much to support the process. Judge Ian Farlam deserves every assistance, every prayer, as he chairs the Commission of Inquiry.
I call on President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to pay a joint visit to the platinum mining area of North-West Province. It would be of great symbolic importance for our country's leader and a former union general secretary to be seen working closely together to address the issues of workers and local communities. I pray that the government will also act quickly and effectively, together with business leaders, to overcome these cancerous developments that have not only fuelled the Lonmin tragedy, but which infect every place where living and working conditions fail to deliver human dignity and economic justice.
Because I have faith in the living God, whose word to us is peace and hope and new life, I am optimistic that a better future is possible. But this visit left me with the sense that this country is like a smouldering log that, left unattended, lies ready to ignite at the slightest wind. There is real urgency in these matters. This is not a message of doom – it is a call to wake up and act. All South Africans must rekindle the vision of a free, fair, just, South Africa which inspired the peaceful transition to democracy, and we must work and pray to bring it about. Never again must talk of ‘blood bath’ become a possibility within our country.
The Archbishop will be available to talk to the media on 071 362 8510
Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
Inquiries: Ms Wendy Kelderman 021 763 1320 (office hours)