ANC heavyweight and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa says he is ready to clear his name.
Last night, the Shanduka chairman and Lonmin board member said he would testify at the Farlam commission of inquiry into the Marikana massacre about his response to the violent strikes that claimed 46 lives.
The announcement comes after a week in which Ramaphosa came under fire for his response to the Marikana strikes in his capacity as a Lonmin board member.
Emails between Ramaphosa and Lonmin board members were revealed at the inquiry this week, where Advocate Dali Mpofu said they proved the shootings were a “premeditated murder of defenceless people”.
In a terse statement released yesterday, Ramaphosa offered to testify at the commission.
He said: “I have indicated to the commission that I would be available to provide testimony.
“I believe there are a number of issues relevant to the deliberations of the inquiry on which I may
be able to make a contribution.”
At the same time:
» The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which Ramaphosa helped form, came under fire after striking Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) workers attacked NUM members at a union rally in Rustenburg; and
» It emerged that the department of justice will no longer pay for the families of victims who died at Marikana to attend the inquiry for its full duration.
This week saw most striking workers in the mining industry return to work.
Amplats yesterday announced it had reached a deal that will see another 12 000 miners picking up their tools again on Tuesday.
But some Amplats workers denied this and violently attacked NUM and Cosatu supporters at a rally in Rustenburg.
According to a source close to Ramaphosa, he wants an opportunity to respond and dispel what has been said about him by Mpofu at the inquiry this week.
“His decision to testify follows on what happened this week at the commission and the statements by Dali Mpofu,” the source said. In the emails Mpofu read, Ramaphosa referred to the Marikana strikers as engaging in “plainly dastardly criminal” acts.
Ramaphosa’s political allies feel this is the right thing for him to do. One said: “He’s right to go there (the inquiry).
It has all been rather dramatic and if he wants to clarify things, the commission is the place to do it.”
A Cabinet minister who serves on the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) with Ramaphosa said Mpofu’s interpretation of the emails was informed by “an issue of Cyril’s standing in the party”.
Ramaphosa is being touted as a potential candidate for deputy president on President Jacob Zuma’s slate at the party’s elective conference in Mangaung.
Mpofu had unsuccessfully defended former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema at his appeal hearing against his expulsion, which Ramaphosa chaired.
“Dali Mpofu is very bitter about Cyril, very bitter. And now he has something for Cyril’s critics to mobilise with,” the source said.
Another NEC member, who is also in government, said Ramaphosa was being targeted because his name is “floating around” in leadership talk.
“He wouldn’t talk for the sake of talking. He would put the facts there and express his own understanding,” the source said.
Ramaphosa came under fire this week from political opponents.
In an email to Albert Jamieson, Lonmin’s chief commercial officer, a day before the August 16 shooting, Ramaphosa wrote: “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such. There needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.”
Those around Ramaphosa said he was in an “introspective mood” this week.
His decision to testify comes from his commitment, they say, to heed his own call to South Africans to take collective responsibility for the Marikana crisis.
Meanwhile, investigators probing murder and attempted murder charges against police officials involved in the Marikana massacre are ready to make arrests, but have been warned off until the commission, chaired by Judge Ian Farlam, finishes its work.
With at least five witnesses who have made statements against the police being arrested after attending commission sittings, investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) are concerned that the delay may undermine their investigation. Read more…