South Africa is a country located in southern part of
Africa according to
Abbreviationfinder. The ANC government in January celebrated
its 100th anniversary as Africa's oldest political
liberation movement, but next month the party's deep divide
was clear. The ANC's disciplinary committee determined the
suspension of the youth union's radical leader Julius Malema
and excluded him from the party. Malema was considered to
split the movement through his controversial statements, but
he was backed by many grassroots for his criticism of the
government's failure to eradicate poverty and injustice.
Malema's supporters were embittered, and in March there
were violent shootings in Seshego in the Limpopo Province
between supporters and opponents of the excluded youth
There was frustration among many blacks that they did not
get better during the ANC's time in power. The miners were
outraged that large profits in the mining industry did not
result in higher wages, better housing and a safer working
environment. In August, strikes broke out in the large
mining district west of the capital, Pretoria. 3,000 workers
at the platinum mine Marikana demanded a three-fold monthly
salary corresponding to approximately SEK 10,000. The demand
was driven by the newly formed radical union AMCU, which
out-maneuvered the old and ANC-faithful mining union NUM.
The union rivalry led to gunfire, and ten workers,
security guards and police were killed. The situation became
increasingly tense, and the workers armed themselves with
machetes, sticks and spears. When thousands of strikers
failed to follow a call to disperse, the police opened fire
with automatic weapons, killing 34 workers and injuring 78.
It was the bloodiest police operation in South Africa since
the Sharpeville massacre during the apartheid era. The whole
community was shocked.
The police minister claimed that the security forces shot
in self-defense after the miners shot them. It was met by
upset reactions, especially as many of the victims were shot
in the back. When the miner Lonmin gave the striking
ultimatum to return to work or be laid off, the strike was
The outrage among the victims' relatives and among the
public was also turned against the government. The
hard-pressed President Jacob Zuma attacked the mining
industry and threatened to revoke licenses unless workers'
conditions improved. A legal commission was appointed to
investigate the massacre.
There was outrage nationally and internationally when
charges were brought against the striking workers rather
than against the shooting police. 270 workers were arrested
and according to the prosecutor they had provoked the
massacre. The arrested were charged with murder.
The people's anger was directed at the judiciary but also
against President Zuma's government. The situation was
exploited by Zuma's harshest critic Julius Malema, who was
present at the Marikana mine to show his support for the
striking workers and the families of the victims.
The murder charge against the miners was withdrawn, and
the arrested were released. At the same time, the wild
strikes spread to more mines. The world's largest mining
company, Anglo American Platinum, was temporarily forced to
close five platinum mines with 26,000 workers. Julius Malema
traveled around and urged workers to make the mines
impossible to control.
The mining industry accounted for 6% of South Africa's
GDP, the largest economy in Africa, and the finance minister
labeled the strikes as "extremely dangerous" for the
economy. The South African currency, the rand, fell in
value, and foreign fund managers reduced ownership in South
African commodity companies.
After a six-week strike, workers at the Marikana mine
accepted wage increases of 11-22%, which was far less than
they required. At Anglo American mines, the strikes
continued, and in October about 75,000 workers were on
strike in the mining industry. New violence occurred, a
worker was reported killed by police, many arrested and
12,000 strikers were fired by a mining company.
Julius Malema's actions and popularity during the strike
made him a growing headache for the ANC government. Malema,
and many with him, therefore saw it as a political
prosecution when he was brought to justice for corruption,
fraud and money laundering. As he faithfully insulted
President Zuma - "an uneducated leader of a banana republic"
- on his way to trial, Malema was hailed by thousands of
Malema's accusations against President Zuma about
corruption came to life when South African media published
documents on Zuma's luxury building complex for 250 million
rand (close to 200 million SEK) in Nkandla in KwaZulu /
Natal. Zuma claimed that the taxpayers only paid for the
security arrangements, but published documents showed that
part of the Zuma family's housing was paid for with tax
"Nkandlagate" led to growing criticism of Zuma from
opposition and the general public. In a November poll, 36%
of young people wanted to see the Vice President and ANC
Secretary-General Kgalema Motlanthe as the next president,
while 23% preferred Zuma. However, among the ANC's
traditional voters, especially in KwaZulu / Natal, support
for Zuma was still strong. The ANC would elect a new
chairman, and thus in effect the next president, at a party
congress in December.
However, among the traditional voters of the ANC,
especially in KwaZulu / Natal, support for Zuma was still
strong, and at the party congress in December he was
re-elected as ANC leader with 75% of the vote. The
well-ordered entrepreneur and former union leader Cyril
Ramaphosa was elected new second man in the party.