Unions should work together to fight battles in memory of Marikana victims: Vavi

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The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has expressed disappointment at unions not being further united in their fight for workers’ rights – post the Marikana tragedy.

This as the country commemorates seven years since the Marikana tragedy, in which 34 mine workers were shot dead by police during a protracted wage strike at the then Lonmin operations.

SAFTU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says unions should work together to fight battles in memory of those who perished in Marikana.

“The period between 2012 and now – trade unions have fragmented, weakened even further, have been divided. Some of those divisions have nothing to do with advancing the interest of ordinary workers instead of launching new battles inspired by the memories of those workers who perished in Marikana. Trade unions should have been much stronger post-Marikana. We are in 2019 where there about 212 registered trade unions in South Africa, that is very sad indeed.”

Some survivors of the Marikana tragedy say this day should be declared a holiday to remember their fellow brothers who fought for better working conditions in the Platinum mining sector.

One of the survivors Alfred Makhaya, who spoke to the SABC earlier on Friday ahead of the commemoration activities says he wishes to see a monument erected to honour those who died on this day.

“As workers we would like to see this day being turned into a workers day holiday at least. And one more important thing, we wish to see happening is that where our brothers died, there should be a monument where all their names will be written,” says Makhaya.

Watch calls for August 16 to be holiday:

International humanitarian organisation (Oxfam) is hosting the screening of the Marikana documentary at Maboneng precinct in Johannesburg on Friday. The documentary is based on three women who were affected by the massacre. One of them died when police fired on the mine workers.

A number of women who have been left destitute by the deaths of their husbands are also expected to attend.

Oxfam Spokesperson is Vuyokazi Futshane says, “We are screening a documentary “Strike a rock”. The documentary is based on the story of Primrose, Sonti and uThumeka. uThumeka and Primrose lived in Marikana and they started an organisation called Sikhala sonke (we are all crying) after their friend was killed by the Police.”

Thousands of mine workers have converged on the infamous Koppie in Marikana, the shooting scene of 34 miners in 2012. Members of different political formations, the clergy, social activists and families of the victims are also attending.

Watch video below:

Other mine-workers who survived the shooting in Marikana are still battling psychological effects of events and needs urgent assistance. This is according to Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa who maintains all 250 that were arrested and the over 100 that were shot at but survived are reeling from trauma to this day.

“If they can meet with the families, not only the widows, the workers of Marikana are still traumatised, they are still sitting with trauma, there is a process that has to be,” says Mathunjwa.