In the law of unintended consequences Zuma’s missteps continues to strengthen Malema, Malema rises to the occasion to fine tune his message to the South African disenfranchised. The Police force opened fire on striking miners at Lonmin mine in Marikana, something reminiscent of the 1976 shooting of student protests when the apartheid government opened fire on student protestors challenging the introduction of Afrikaans as the official language in public schools. That was the apartheid government and though the reaction was unacceptable to any rational mind. It was expected that the apartheid government would find any excuse to murder black youth.
What is troubling about the police massacre of 2012 is that it is in a ‘free’ South Africa. The paradox of it is that living in a free South Africa where black people fought for the right to protest better working conditions and higher salaries should have been worth something.
There are media claims that the world prices of platinum and other minerals are falling on the global markets which is why the owners of the mines cannot afford to salary raises to their employees. Dialogue between the unions, workers and owners does not seem to be yielding results. Here comes Malema to save the day and settle old scores with the mine owner ANC heavyweight businessman Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa is said to have presided over the hearing that ousted Malema from the ANC Youth League.
Malema in true opportunistic fashion visited those who had been injured in the protest in the hospital and has positioned himself as their spokesperson. He used the platform to condemn Zuma’s leadership and his handling of the situation. Zuma should have placed Minister Mthethwa who is in charge of the police on administrative leave pending the investigation to difuse the situation because Mthethwa is clearly a liability to Zuma whose own popularity is waning and his party is trying to grapple its hold on power.
The African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its 100th anniversary this year but how likely are they to drop Zuma if his leadership style weakens their grip on power? As election year approaches and millions of South Africans remain disgruntled at the progress in South Africa and Malema’s voice grows louder and his influence gets bigger Zuma may look less appealing to the ruling party.
This Lonmin mine fiasco could be the beginning of social and economic upheaval in South Africa. When the Svosve people in Mashonaland East in Zimbabwe moved onto the commercial farms President Mugabe initially sent the police force to remove them with the goal of preserving peace and unity under the umbrella of reconciliation. However, not even the sticks and guns of the police could challenge the resolve of the Svosve. This was the beginning of farm invasions in South Africa’s northern neighbor which never stopped and changed the economic landscape forever.
When Zuma ousted Mbeki from the party’s top leadership position many people were surprised that ANC voted Zuma as the leader of Africa’s biggest economy. Here was a man accused of corruption, rape, incest, pedophilia and other ills not suitable for a man who would be leader of Africa’s most prosperous country. Is South Africa ready to challenge the status quo of ANC which leaves many still in poverty and unable to access the wealth and prosperity of their land?