Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) leader, Joseph Mathunjwa says the wounds from South Africa’s past have not healed in the 24 years of democracy.
Speaking to Political Analysis South Africa on Tuesday, 1 May 2018, Mathunjwa said that although South African citizens have attained the right to vote since the 1994, the deprivation and indignity remains the same.
“They [the governing ANC party] keep bandaging the wound without cleaning it thoroughly in order to heal,” he said.
“We do have power to vote, but the vote cannot change the real issues that seek to bring dignity to yourself. So it’s kind of a lip service situation that we find ourselves,” he explained.
Mathunjwa said that the country’s economic system is governed by what he calls “democratic capitalism” where only those who have enough resources are able to fully enjoy the fruits of democracy.
“In as much as you can vote, but you don’t have money, even if you can be allowed to enter any space, but if you don’t have money then you cannot,” he said.
“The economic policies, the way they’ve been liberalised, it excludes the majority of the people. The liberalisation of the economy suffocates us as South Africans. It entrenches or institutionalises the class system,” he added.
Meanwhile, as many unions in South Africa were celebrating Workers’ Day on 1 May 2018, AMCU released a statement saying that they would be holding their Workers’ Day celebration on 16 August.
The union says the 16th of August is the “epitome” of the workers struggle.
On 16 August 2012 police opened fire at striking workers at Lonmin’s Marikana mine resulting in 34 fatalities and 78 injuries.
“We believe strongly that our struggle must be our history, therefore 16 August does have significance in our history as a working class,” he said.
“We are of the view that it is correct for us to put pressure on the government to say yes, you need to recognise the Marikana or Lonmin massacre, and this day should be treated as workers’ day for South African workers,” he explained.
As a result, the union has called on other federations, unions and non-unionised workers to join in its calls for Workers’ Day to be moved. Mathunjwa said that although he has not received any official correspondence from other unions, ordinary people have expressed their support of the position AMCU has taken.
“As time goes on we will embark in this campaign. They will come to the realisation that indeed it is proper to start now to honour our history,” he said.