Marikana blamed on leadership failure

Academic Mamphela Ramphele says the Marikana tragedy was a result of a leadership failure.

Police look down at dead Lonmin Marikana mine workers. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN & JOHANNESBURG - Renowned academic and anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele on Thursday said the Marikana tragedy was the result of a monumental leadership failure.

Ramphele delivered the annual Amy Biehl Foundation memorial lecture at the University of the Western Cape last night.

She spoke of what she called the country's "woundedness".

"The only way I can understand this is that we are a nation that is wounded and unwilling to face up to our wounds."

She said the incident could have been avoided.

"We are beginning to see septicemic effects of the wounds of this nation. Marikana is just an example of monumental leadership failure. The unions, Lonmin, police, the Minister of Mineral Resources, the Minister of Labour and of course the president, were all missing in action."

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said those wanting to exploit the Lonmin tragedy for political gain should remember the widows and orphans of those who perished.

Mokonyane led a memorial service for the miners in Johannesburg and warned about "fake messiahs" who've descended on the mine.

But the event she spoke at was mostly attended by large groups of political parties and union members who sang songs and put up banners on the walls.

Mokonyane said the bloodshed at the mine has changed the course of South Africa's history.

"All of us are gasping in horror, in pain and in shock

She heaped praise on President Jacob Zuma for trying to get to the truth and slammed those manipulating the situation.

Union leaders speaking at the same function described political opportunists as vultures.

Around 3000 Lonmin miners went on strike over two weeks ago demanding better pay and working conditions.

It is alleged that protests were triggered by rival unions trying to gain higher membership numbers.

During the initial protests, 10 people were killed, including two police officers and two security guards.

Last Thursday, 34 miners were gunned down during clashes with police officers.

Zuma has since launched a commission of inquiry into the matter.