Lonmin Shoot-out: President Zuma Calls For Calm; Sets Up Commission

South Africa President Jacob Zuma has called for calm in the wake of the Lonmin shootout that claimed 34 lives on Thursday.

Zuma cut his SADC Summit commitments short to attend to the mayhem back home ‘to be with the people of the North West, the workers in [the] mines, the families of those who have lost their lives or been injured, and with the Police Service in this hour of mourning’.

The President also added:

These events are not what we want to see or want to become accustomed to, in a democracy that is bound by the rule of law, and where we are creating a better life for all our people.

We do not expect such incidents, particularly in a country where there is a high level of organisation within the labour movement. We have trade unions with many years of experience in organising workers, within the framework of the labour laws of the country.

Today, our thoughts are primarily with the families of those who have lost their lives.

He issued a rallying call and added that his government would get to the bottom of what had happened

We assure the South African people in particular, that we remain fully committed to ensuring that this country remains a peaceful, stable, productive and thriving nation, that is focused on improving the quality of life of all, especially the poor and the working class.

It is against this background that we have to uncover the truth about what happened here.

In this regard, I have decided to institute a Commission of Inquiry. The inquiry will enable us to get to the real cause of the incident, and to derive the necessary lessons.

South Africa and the rest of the world woke up to shock and disbelief, after the shoot-out between police and striking miners. The miners had been striking over pay, with rock drillers leading the way. They generally get paid between $300 and $500 although they perform the hardest part of the job.

While the miners had turned violent there were issues of economic disparity that needed attention.

It is against this backdrop that Zuma’s presidency might fail or succeed. If he handles this issue well, then Mangaung will be a breeze.