Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma left Marikana in huff on Tuesday after she and her entourage were chased out by angry miners but the ANC Women’s League has played down the incident, saying they are prepared to engage.
Dlamini-Zuma arrived in the midst of a sandstorm to lay a wreath at the Marikana koppie where 34 miners were shot dead by police on August 2012 during labour unrest.
But as her blue-light convoy and a fleet of taxis ferrying her supporters approached the area, considered sacred ground by the community, a group of men, some of them wearing Amcu T-shirts, stood guard.
Before anyone disembarked from their vehicles to sing praises for Dlamini-Zuma and the ANC through revolutionary songs the men gestured that no one must get closer to the foot of the koppie.
The song, dance and ululation by scores of league members, who were clad in their women’s league regalia and T-shirts bearing the words “NDZ for president”, soon turned into desperate pleas of “we are not here to fight” by the league’s deputy president Sisi Ntombela as the men told them they were not welcome.
They were bussed in from nearby Brits and had also accompanied Dlamini-Zuma to the Royal Palace of Bapo Ba Mogale, where she was endorsed to succeed President Jacob Zuma.
Dlamini-Zuma remained in the car while the commotion unfolded.
Her convoy departed after Ntombela appealed for calm, saying that they would leave because they had come there with good intentions, not to cause tension.
“The ANC and their media must leave now ... Why is she coming here now? What does she want now?” charged the men in Amcu shirts, refusing to entertain any explanations from Ntombela.
The men gestured with their hands for Dlamini-Zuma and the fleet of taxis carrying her supporters to turn back.
This came two weeks after the miners told another ANC presidential candidate, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to not set foot in Marikana.
This was despite Ramaphosa, who was then a non-executive director at Lonmin mine, apologising to the families who blamed him for the gunning down of their breadwinners after he called for “concomitant action” in email correspondence with ministers, including that of police, before the massacre.
Women’s league secretary, Meogo Matuba, said this was Dlamini-Zuma’s second visit to the area, and added that they would still be prepared to iron out issues that the community felt have to this day not been attended to by the ANC-led government.
She said the incident was merely a case of some Amcu members requesting that the wreath-laying ceremony be postponed.
“We respect the decision of some Amcu members for requesting that the league postpone its wreath laying today until there is engagement on the outstanding issues that the union feels the ANC-led government has not resolved. We will continue working with all sectors of the society, including the labour unions, to ensure that there is everlasting peace and harmony in Marikana.”
Earlier, Dlamini-Zuma started off on a good footing when she was endorsed by the iconic Morafe tribe of Bapong Ba Mogale.
Bapo Ba Mogale Investment chief executive Lehlohonolo Nthontho said that Dlamini-Zuma had their full support after a meeting behind closed doors.
“Aligned with the future that the leadership is taking us, we support women in leadership and shall continue to do so. Therefore, comrade Dlamnini-Zuma and her endeavours to be the future president is endorsed,” he said.
“As a community we have suffered in the hands of some of the comrades aligned to white monopoly capital. Therefore the time is now for radical economic transformation, which is the theme for the women’s league in this women’s month.”
They also lamented the fact that mining companies such as Lonmin did not take them as traditional leadership seriously but were mining 95% of their assets on their land. They vowed to fight and stand up for their rights.
Dlamini-Zuma took the podium to berate the slow pace of transformation in the country, saying radical economic transformation must not leave women behind
“No country can reach its potential if women are left out.”