Marikana police action firm but fair - Zuma

Zuma said opposition parties should stop comparing the incident to apartheid.

President Jacob Zuma arrives at Cosatu's 11th national congress at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Monday, 17 September 2012. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma on Monday told the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)'s congress that police action in Marikana was firm but fair.

He said increased police presence in the North West town, which has seen several incidents of fatal violence, cannot be compared with apartheid-era policing.

Zuma said opposition parties should stop comparing the incident to apartheid.

"It is irresponsible language to compare law enforcement campaigns to apartheid."

He accused the opposition of scoring political points, at the detriment of South Africa and striking workers.

The president added that mining companies should implement provisions of the Mining Charter, to redress the imbalances of the past.

Last week, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced that government would take decisive steps to address the issue of illegal gatherings in Marikana.

Following Friday's announcement, more police were sent to the area, including South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members.

Over the weekend, police raided several homes and confiscated weapons.

The action follows the death of at least 45 people in the area.

At least 35 workers were killed when police opened fire on demonstrators on August 16.

Meanwhile, South African Communist Party Secretary General Blade Nzimande said it was "racist" to claim that the violence in Marikana was caused by inter-union rivalry.

The unions at the centre of the Marikana protests are the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and breakaway union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).

"We must reject this notion, which is a racist notion, that what is happening in Marikana is inter-union rivalry."

Nzimande also hit out at the media for its coverage of the ongoing strikes.

He said the media was not reporting on issues properly.