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Malema and the Marikana Massacre - put down your placard and shut up

Updated on November 25, 2012

Video: Malema manipulates Marikana mourners

Lonmin's Marikana Massacre

The recent and widely reported tragedy at the Lonmin mine at Marikana in South Africa (the Marikana Massacre) has generated a never-ending stream of whining from South African organized labour and various other morally bankrupt headline-grabbers. In fact it has even drawn the attention of a bunch of scruffy, ill-informed left-wingers in California who feel they need some relevance in the world. Pathetic.

The massive international sympathy was generated on the shoulders of a big, fat lie perpetuated by the striking workers. Marikana strikers have been caught with their pants down and their lies hanging out.

They attempted to mislead the public in general about their earnings and one such liar, Alfred Makhaya, appears to have been the primary source of the amount: R4 000 per month. This is the equivalent of less than $500 per month. But, young Alfred is not the only liar – not one of the striking workers or warring unions came forward at the time with the truth. The miners – rock drill operators – earn on average R10 000 per month, without bonuses. More than 2.5 times what they claim and were reported to earn. As a brief aside, it is hard to imagine how any employer would take a striking employee seriously who demanded a 300% increase (from R4000 to R12 000)!

Just to put the actual earnings of the mineworkers into perspective, earnings on that level would put the workers just outside the top third of how much people earn internationally (calculated on GDP adjusted at purchasing parity power), or in the 70’s out of some 194 countries ranked in the CIA World Factbook.

South African unions regularly manipulate their ill-educated support base with untruths. The result is often unwarranted and illegal strike action – total strike action having cost the South African economy 2.8 million work days in 2011; that is over R1.073 billion in lost wages. According to economist.co.za’s Mike Schüssler, the number of working days lost means that South Africa’s economy probably lost about R3.2 billion due to strikes last year.

Marikana Massacre

Miner's Lies Exposed

On 18 August 2012, The Daily Maverick did some proper reporting, as against the sloppy nonsense put out by publications which did not bother to check the simple fact of the earnings claimed by the strikers, and came up with the startling truth. Rock drill operators earn more than double the claimed figure, from which the entire nasty matter had originated. Possibly, sympathy for their position should be diluted by the factor of their lie.

Quite apart from the unacceptable loss of life, partially attributable to poorly trained police forces, the rallying cry was quickly changed once the striking workers had been found out. Initially, some dimwit managed to make a sensation out of blaming a rabbit, believe it or not.

Bleary-eyed union officials were no doubt up all night trying to find some reason to give legitimacy to the strike brought about by them; some evil that could be laid at the door of the mine employers and post facto ratification for the deaths of 44 people. Finally, they hit upon a strategy. Comparisons were rapidly drawn up of the salaries of the rock drill operators against the enormous executive packages drawn by the mining giant’s board.

And here is where I feel the argument of the unions gets a little bit thin and their moral platform starts shaking like an excited puppy about to crap on your carpet.

Lonmin mine strikers

Executive vs Labour Pay

Lonmin is the world’s third largest producer of platinum, after Anglo Platinum and Impala; and platinum is tremendously valuable. While there are many who argue in favour of limiting the salaries of wildly remunerated executives, remember, the mining house under scrutiny is the third largest producer of platinum in the world. This is not an insignificant business and the remuneration of top management executives involved in running an operation like this will naturally be substantial. Some might even say justifiable.

The disingenuous efforts of workers and unions to use salary comparisons is completely without substance and an effort in recovering some lost ground.

Far too little noise is made about the salaries of civil servants who underperform and are surprisingly often involved or accused of criminal activity. Corruption is endemic in South Africa and for readers who are not familiar with the disgusting level of self-enrichment practised now by the ruling African National Congress, reading on the subject is widely available and disputed by no one. This is not to suggest that it is necessarily worse than elsewhere in the world, possibly just far more blatant.

By way of example, South African cabinet ministers and MP’s earn substantially more than their British or French counterparts. The country’s president costs its taxpayers 5 times more per head than United States president Barack Obama costs Americans. President Jacob Zuma also earns approximately 30% more than British Prime Minister David Cameron or French President Francois Hollande!

Chairmen of state owned enterprises Transnet and Eskom are paid more than R100 000 (almost $12 000) per meeting. Union leaders, yes those same chaps inciting all the poor striking workers, are reported to earn over R1.4 million ($165 000) per year – not a bad living…

And if those numbers don’t horrify you, then neither should the Marikana Massacre. The corollary of that is, of course, that readers should either save some of their righteous indignation and direct it against the unproductive thieves and fraudsters in the ANC government… or put their placards down and shut up.

Miners Accept Blood Money

Striking miners who initially claimed to hold a moral highground over the wealthy mine owners, lost that today in accepting a compromise far below the claims for which the deceased miners lost their lives.

The mines were under no obligation to even negotiate with the miners, under a binding and extant labour agreement signed between the workers' unions and employer, over a year ago. However, economics won over the day and the mines made their weakest move yet in this process by agreeing to a massive 22% average increase for the striking miners. They have capitulated to the workers' strike despite legally binding agreements existing to regulate worker/employee relations for coming years. The workers elected to ignore this agreement and embark on an illegal strike - namely, that which lead to the Marikana Massacre.

Mine workers were jubilant today after being presented with an effective 22% average raise. One can only hope their improved personal physical circumstances resulting from this raise will be worth the loss of 44 lives. I wonder how much the increase translates into per life...

The enduring challenge that will arise, going forward for the mine and its employees, will be the resounding dismissal by those striking miners of an existing labour relations agreement in place that ought to have regulated all labour interactions in the arena for some years to come. The striking miners demonstrated over the past few weeks that rules and agreements mean nothing to them. Their poor living conditions, woeful lack of education or logic, hard living conditions and gullibility to the empty promises of the likes of Julius Malema, lead those people to making unsound decisions and supporting the aspirations of demagogues. Julius Malema, for example, is merely a functional retard with very little comprehension of real economic and social issues, but rather, only the savages' whiff of blood to determining its next enemies.

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