Collective Bargaining Misjudged: The Marikana Massacre
Keywords:collective bargaining processes, violence, Marikana massacre, Commission of Inquiry, political oppression, apartheid, colonial regime
The tradition of violence during collective bargaining processes in South Africa (particularly during a strike) can be traced back to the colonial period, where the struggle for better employment terms and conditions was conflated with the struggle for freedom from political oppression, apartheid and the colonial regime. An example in this regard is the Sharpeville uprising. In this case, the State’s reaction to the uprising was to call upon the armed forces to quell the situation, and in the process, lives and limbs were lost; nobody was held accountable for this. This was surely a bad legacy to leave for modern times! However, fifty-two years later, South Africa experienced a déja vu moment in the form of the Marikana massacre, which was also chillingly reminiscent of the massacre by apartheid police at Sharpeville in 1960. The writing of this article is informed by the need to avoid another Marikana massacre. The authors bemoan the manner in which this tragic event was handled and argue that, with the right attitude and the right application of resources, the massacre could have been avoided. The authors also lament the approach employed in dealing with the aftermath of the Marikana massacre and conclude that the status quo gives credence to the saying that “an apple does not fall far from the tree”. The prosecution of the perpetrators is delayed, no compensation is given to bereft families, and it remains to be seen who was at fault, even after a “good-for-nothing” yet costly Commission of Inquiry has completed its task.