Marikana: Where is the political responsibility?

The 16th of August 2017 marks exactly 5 years since the tragic killing of some 34 men – brothers, fathers, and sons – who were gunned down by the South African Police Service (SAPS) at Marikana.

That dreadful day will long remain as a stain on the collective conscience of our country.

The anniversary marks 1826 days since those men were killed in broad daylight by the very members of government who are meant to protect them. Yet, to this day, no justice has been brought for the victims’ families, loved ones, and to the town of Marikana.

Sadly, the name of this town has come to represent all which is unjust in our society, and in the ANC government.

Walking around Marikana, as I did yesterday, one struggles to find any meaningful development over the past 5 years. There are no new houses, roads, clinics or basic services that were promised by various government departments over the years. The ANC government has truly forgotten about Marikana.

No one has come to apologise for the tragedy, no one has taken accountability, and no one has come forward with solutions.

Five years on, we are left asking: Where is the political responsibility? Where is the compensation and reparations? Where are the houses and local infrastructure development?

It is an insult that five years later not a single person has been criminally prosecuted and no one has taken political responsibility for the tragic events. Whether you are a police commissioner or the deputy president of South Africa, we maintain that those involved should face meaningful accountability for that fateful day.

The Farlam Commission report was released over 2 years ago, but nothing has been done since then to close the accountability loop. In fact, those responsible have continued to evade accountability, while the poor of Marikana suffer. The R153 million commission uncovered the truth, but has so far not led to justice, closure or compensation.

Today, those directly involved in the massacre walk free. Nathi Mthethwa, then Minister of Police, is still in the Zuma Cabinet. Section 206 of the Constitution is clear: political responsibility for the actions of the SAPS falls squarely in the hands of the Minister of Police.

Yet, instead of Minister Mthethwa being removed from Cabinet and criminally charged, he came to Parliament last week to defend Jacob Zuma and all his stealing and corruption in the motion of no confidence debate.

What about the North West Police Commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo? She got to comfortably retire even before the Farlam Commission report was released, without any accountability.

Riah Phiyega, then National Police Commissioner, is still on paid suspension. And Cyril Ramaphosa refuses to even visit Marikana 5 years on, nor take responsibility for his role, yet believes he ought to be the next president of South Africa.

These politicians and public servants get to carry on with their lives, while the people of Marikana are left without justice and without answers.

As we remember the tragedy of Marikana today, let us not lose heart and hope for the future. Real change is possible. We can achieve a new beginning for South Africa. The DA has a plan to put South Africa back on the path to prosperity. Our people have had enough of the ANC taking advantage of us, and placing patronage and profits over the people.

When I was here last year, it was just days after the people of Marikana took to the ballot box and shattered the ANC’s majority in the Rustenberg local municipality on 3 August 2016.

And come 2019, the people of Marikana, and all across the North West Province, will punish this corrupt and morally bankrupt ANC at the polls, and usher in a new beginning for our people and for our country.

That will be the start of real justice for the people of Marikana.

* Maimane is leader of the Democratic Alliance.