As South Africans continue to debate the Farlam Commission’s report on the Marikana massacre, Africa Check says President Jacob Zuma’s summary of the findings, televised live last week, did not address did not adequately reflect the main points in the report. Zuma is facing renewed criticism after the release of the much-anticipated report which many claim has whitewashed the police’s brutality of the Marikana miners on the 16 August 2012.
Analysts have accused the president of downplaying the report, after he exonerated several high ranking government officials from blame over the shooting.
There has been much talk on how Zuma’s address in parliament on Thursday has somewhat differed from the actual contents of the report. Whilst Zuma has stated that the commission found that the executive played no role in the decision of police to implement a more ‘tactical option’ to deal with striking miners, the report itself states that the commission could find no evidence to suggest such guidance was given.
However, it is reported that the commission were unable to find anything positive in favour of former police minister, Nathi Mthethwa either.
“In that way it seems that President Jacob Zuma has definitely downplayed the report’s findings on Minister Nathi Mthethwa,” stated Anim van Wyk, a researcher with Africa Check.
Another high ranking government absolved of blame having faced questions over the tragic incident is deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa. At the time of the massacre, Ramaphosa served as a director of Lonmin, the company which owns the Marikana-based mine.
Van Wyk noted the commission had agreed with submissions made by the deputy president’s council, which brushed off all accusations of his involvement as groundless. However, she questioned whether limitations imposed on the commission may have limited its capabilities to properly investigate, and hold to account any of the top government officials.
“I guess that’s where criticism has been expressed. Given that the terms of reference of the commission was such that they couldn’t make findings against the executive, perhaps that played a role in the way the report was written,” she claimed.
Another area of contention has been the suggestion that SAPS deliberately concealed information from the commission, with regards to the holding of a crucial meeting prior to the massacre. Van Wyk said that whilst the commission were informed that the decision to go ahead with a tactical option was taken on the day of the incident when the situation escalated, the report showed that said meeting was in fact held a day prior on the 15th August.
34 miners were killed and 78 wounded when police officers with SAPS opened fire on striking platinum miners at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, in the North West province. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)