Schlagwort-Archive: Akanyang Merementsi

Exklusiv-Story: Ein Minenarbeiter packt aus

„Es muss so schnell wie möglich eine Lösung gefunden werden“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Akanyang Merementsi ist Minenarbeiter und Blogger aus der südafrikanischen Provinz North West. Er lebt in Rustenburg. Dem Ort, an welchem das “Massaker” gegen 34 Minenarbeiter begangen wurde. Er war bei den tragischen Ereignissen nicht dabei, kennt aber viele der Leute persönlich. Akanyang untermauert, dass die Arbeiter mehr Geld wollen. Hingegen fühlen sich viele Minenarbeiter nicht mehr durch die Minengewerkschaft NUM angemessen repräsentiert. Es wird vor Ort befürchtet, dass andere Minenarbeiter sich den Protesten in Marikana & Rustenburg anschließen könnten. Diese Solidaritätsbewegung befürwortete Julius Malema, der einstige ANC-Jugendliga-Präsident. Die unangenehme Situation der gegenwärtigen südafrikanischen Bergwerkindustrie erinnere an die 70/80er-Jahre. Einige Minenarbeiter sehen gar einen direkten Vergleich zwischem dem Marikana-Massaker 2012 und dem Sharpeville-Massaker von 1960. Akanyang beklagt, dass niemand die Verantwortung für die Geschehnisse tragen möchte. NUM und AMCU schieben sich gegenseitg die Schuld zu. Auch die Rolle der Polizei könne nicht abschließend bewertet werden. Offiziell hat die Polizeibehörde SAPS das Verhalten der Beamten als Selbstverteidigung deklariert. Die gegenwärtigen Untersuchungen – ausgehend von einer durch Präsident Zuma eingesetzten Kommission und die der polizeilichen Innenrevision „Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)“ – werden den tragischen Vorfällen auf den Grund gehen. Mittlerweile streiken nicht nur die Minenarbeiter, sondern auch deren Ehefrauen und die Lokalgemeinschaften. Auf die Frage hin, ob er Vergeltungsangriffe der Minenarbeiter auf die Polizei befürchte, konnte Akanyang keine Einschätzung dessen abgeben. Der Interviewte betont, dass eine Lösung so schnell wie möglich her muss. Grundsätzliche Entlassungen des Bergbaukonzerns Lonmin würden die bestehende Situation nur verschlimmern. Der gegenwärtige Ruf des Managements lässt sich auf die reine Profitgier reduzieren; die hart arbeitenden Minenarbeiter finden umso weniger Beachtung. Minenarbeiter verdienen mit 4.000 Rand zu wenig, damit es zum Leben ausreicht. Dieser Verdienst soll jedoch nach dem Willen der Belegschaft auf 5.000 bis 12.000 Rand angehoben werden – also eine Verdreifachung. Dabei handelt sich um die Minenarbeiter in vielen Fällen um sogenannte „Rock Drill Operators“, also unter Tage hart ackernde Bohrer. Die Arbeit der in Rivalität zueinander stehenden Minengewerkschaften NUM und AMCU bezeichnet der Minenarbeiter als „chaotisch“. Mittlerweile verliert NUM zunehmend mehr Mitglieder an AMCU.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – the Rustenburg miner Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, as a miner you are following the current developments in your home province North West very closely. How could this escalation happen?

Answer: Workers want money and they might go to whatever extent at their exposal to go and get it. At least there were not any destruction to (public) properties by strikers.

The fact that they felt leaderless – after apparently abandoning NUM because it no longer cared about their needs – may have contributed to what we have since the strike started on Aug 10.

From media reports coming live that area as I am far from it – it is likely that this will take longer. There are fears that other mine workers around the area will join in in „solidarity“ as they were advised by expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema on 18 Aug.

But it is doubtful if they would given the many dead bodies they had witnessed themselves as a result. Some are also suggesting that what happened at Lonmin’s Marikana operations is like to be witnessed at other mining operations not only around the Rustenburg but country wide. But that remains to be seen.

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some media are talking about a state of “civil war”. Are you sharing this view?

Answer: Some have called it a „massacre“ while others have, as you suggest, seen it as a „civil war“ not only between mine workers and their employers.

It is an unpleasant situation that was apparently last seen in the 70s and 80s – one situation many have since likened to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Who bears the blame for the situation?

Answer: There are finger pointing at the moment and no one seems to take responsibility for what happened especially among the unions as to what led to the strike in the first place.

Majority union at Lonmin, NUM, blames its rival, AMCU and the later denies its involvement in having made the strikers even angrier.

As for the shooting on Thursday, the police are yet to admit their actions were wrong. This as National Police Commission has repeatedly defended the police services‘ shooting at the strikers, saying their (police) lives were in danger and therefore they had acted in self-defence.

On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry which will try and get to bottom of what actually had transpired during the shooting. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is also said to have announced its own investigation that „will seek to establish if the police action was proportional to the threat posed by the miners“.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is the mood among the miners?

Answer: Media reports quote many miners saying they will continue to strike until their demands are met. Even their wives and local community women had joined in in solidarity, accusing the mine of not treating strikers like human beings. According to a Mail & Guardian Online report, the miners said they will regroup and have a meeting again on Aug 20.

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are you expecting revenge on the cops?

Answer: That is difficult to say. They may want to revenge because, say, their colleagues were killed for nothing except that they only wanted their wage demands met. So I can’t say with certainty as couldn’t the police whether the remaining miner workers would revenge their colleagues deaths or not.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do the miners of Lonmin fearing now a wave of mass layoffs?

Answer: There haven’t been any reports that there will be lay-off yet. I think what is important now is that a solution must be found as soon as possible, and if there are lay-off plans, those will be discussed at a later stage but now when over 50 people have just been shot at, with over 75 being wounded.

Any suggestions of lay-off now will not only be miscalculated but that it might escalate the situation to more than what had been seen in the mining industry. That would also reinforce the perception that the Lonmin management does not want to give salary increases because they are only looking at their profits and own pockets and not the hard working miners‘.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is a mine worker earning on average per month in South Africa?

Answer: It will be difficult to give an average of generally what mine workers earn. Remember just early this year the same category of workers had embarked on a strike at Impala demanding a take home of about R9000.00 because they claimed their take home of about R4000.00 was not enough. Now Lonmin’s Rock Drill Operators also reportedly want their take home to be increased from R4000 or R5000 to R12000.

Besides, you cannot get an average of how much miners earn because their categories of work are not the same.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are wage demands by 200 percent really justified?

Answer: Only they (Lonmin strikers) can say whether that is justified or not.

Importantly, no Lonmin/Impala or any other platinum mining company would operate without Rock Drill Operators – especially when we talk of production.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How do you evaluate the work of trade unions NUM and AMCU?

Answer: Their status are in shambles.

NUM is gradually losing membership to AMCU and the latter seems to be dominating – but without the bargaining power at Lonmin – and gradually taking over the mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Thank you very much for this interview. Hope the mining sector in South Africa will get ASAP a sufficient solution on this crisis.

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Blogger Akanyang Merementsi im Interview

Die südafrikanische Pressefreiheit findet keine Anwendung auf Blogger. Wer schützt die Netzaktivisten?

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Die Pressefreiheit muss in allen Staaten der Welt, auch in Demokratien, ständig verteidigt werden. In Südafrika steht die Presselandschaft besonders unter Druck. Mail & Guardian, das Flaggschiff des investigativen Journalismus, ist mehrfach durch den Staat und einer Reihe von Konzernen vor Gericht gezerrt worden – aktuell durch die Unternehmens- und Managementberatung Bososa. Die Aufdeckung der Quellen, der Whistleblower, ist in den meisten Fällen das Ziel von juristischen Auseinandersetzungen. Die Verfassung garantiere das Recht auf Quellenschutz, wenn ein hohes öffentliches Interesse bestehe, so der Blogger und selbsternannte „Media-Freak“ Akanyang Merementsi aus Rustenburg. Er bedauert jedoch, dass den Bloggern kein Rechtsstatus auf journalistische Privilegien zusteht – ähnlich in Deutschland. In den USA hingegen existieren bereits Organisationen wie Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), die den Bloggern umfassende Hilfe in Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und Rechtsberatung- bzw. vertretung anbieten. Bezüglich der geplanten und vom ANC geplanten Presseregulierung, wonach im Rahmen des sog. Protection of Information Bill Journalisten bei der Veröffentlichung von geheimen Informationen mit bis zu 25 Jahren Haft bestraft werden können, führt Akanyang die Zunahme von Falschmeldungen an. Die südafrikanische Presse hat in den letzten drei Jahren nach Angaben des stellvertretenden Presse-Ombudsmann  für einen Anstieg der Beschwerden von 70 Prozent gesorgt. Falsche Informationen und unethische Meldungen dienen dementsprechend als Grundlage zur Presseregulierung.  Ferner bemängelt Akanyang die fortwährende Schwarz-Weiß-Einteilung der südafrikanischen Gesellschaft und vor allem die von Weißen betriebene Assoziation von Problemen wie Armut, Kriminalität, mangelnde Bildung und Korruption  mit der schwarzen Hautfarbe. Er hasst es, dass Schwarze per se  in „Verdacht“ gestellt werden.

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry

© Akanyang Merementsi, media freak & blogger and worker in mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – a Rustenburg based blogger Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, according to your Akanyang Africa blog you are a “media freak”. Which aims are you following with your online media?

Answer: My blog addresses a range of topics and these include politics and media developments in South Africa (African and abroad). I am passionate about media and politics and this must have something to do with the fact that I almost became a journalist in my last year (2007) at North West University’s Mafikeng campus in the North West province.

At the time I developed a keen interest in media and politics which played a role in my becoming a writer for the university student newspaper, The Album. The stint, however, only lasted for a couple of months until sometime August that year when the university, strangely, decided to close down the newspaper due to lack of funds. In my first issue I had only written one feature involving a student whose residence room had caught fire and burned most of her belongings. I also contributed in the news snips section of the newspaper.

But as for political interests, I hope my Aquarius star attributes of curiosity and inquisitiveness have nothing to do with it. But I suspect they do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are criticising several cases of organisation that are in confrontation with press institutions. For example in the juridical case between the enterprise BOSASA against Mail & Guardian newspaper. Is the South Africa state sufficiently protecting bloggers and journalists?

Answer: On the Mail & Guardian vs. Bosasa saga I was merely concerned that there was such great silence from other media houses in the country that previously claimed to support press-freedom but had failed to come to the defence of M&G when it was being forced through the Court to reveal sources that had leaked certain information to it. And as far as I understand newspapers like M&G are protected by the Constitution from not revealing their sources if their revelations are “in the public interest”, which the Bosasa stories were, according to my understanding. Therefore it was sad that only one organisation was behind M&G in court while others like Democratic Alliance, Cosatu, etc. were silent.

So journalists enjoy more protection than bloggers (like myself or any other for that matter). This is because, so we are told, we are not and cannot claim to be journalists who enjoy some great protection from the Constitution.

I do not think bloggers can claim to be journalists and therefore claiming their rights, but I truly believe that we bloggers do not enjoy any protection at all to date.

Not even international organisations I have interacted with can easily help me fight any legal battle for me a South African blogger. Or if they were, it would be difficult as they would first have to find their peer in my country who would be willing to represent me. In June last year I asked Rebecca Jeschke, a media relations director at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – a US-based organisation that fights for what it called the Bloggers’ Rights – about her organisation and what it does. With offices only in San Francisco, Jeschke said the organisation’s “legal guide” whose “law [is] referenced” in the US “likely doesn’t apply to South Africa”.

Asked how EFF defended bloggers in other parts of the world – South Africa as an example, she said they worked on “an activism level”. “We can and do call attention to important international cases, and work on international policy issues. But we don’t do on-the-ground legal work for cases outside of the US”. Although they would not be personally helping bloggers if they faced lawsuits, Jeschke said, however, that EFF can be contacted for assistance and they “will try to help find appropriate legal assistance”. “But we can’t provide that assistance ourselves for cases outside of the US”, she said.

If you will remember a blogger had written a story for which s/he was fined over a million Pounds/Euros/dollars. This, the Court found later, was because, unlike journalists, she was not protected from not disclosing sources. What bloggers can only exercise but with caution is our right to freedom of opinion and expression which are enshrined in the South African Constitution. So this is an indication that bloggers do not have much protection as journalists do.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is your opinion with regard to the ANC’s planned Protection of Information Bill? Will the government be cutting press freedom?

Answer: I have not read the revised version of the proposed regulation, even the old one I had not finished reading. However, those that had read both versions and whose judgements I trust are of the opinion that the Protection of State Information Bill in its current form might be unconstitutional.

For example, at the time of doing writing veteran Human Rights lawyer George Bizos of the Legal Resources Centre reportedly had his submission to Parliament on the bill that: “as it stands, [it] runs contrary to and indeed threatens many of the fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution”. This is the general view in the country and of course many of us are inclined to believe that for as long as the bill is not in line with the constitution as alleged – where the media and press rights and freedom and their constitutional obligations to report without fear and or favour are not recognised, where whistleblowers are protected and that any information can be leaked and or reported in the “public interest” – then we need to be worried and concerned as a nation because many secrets (often by political parties, corruptable businesspeople, government departments and private businesses) are very much likely to be covered up with the passing of these laws.

So by introducing a law such as this and the ruling party’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal – our media would be very much limited to reporting alleged/suspected corruption where leaked evidence thereof do exist. Therefore, to a great extent, these laws would be “cutting press freedom”.

Having said this, however, the media (especially on MAT proposal) is as much to blame for many of its unethical and irresponsible reporting, some of which are way out of line with the South African Press Codes.

For example, I blogged on May 7 last year, asking: “Is Sunday Times living up to this Code of Conduct?” In another blog entry published at the same time, I asked: “Has Sunday Times breached the Press Codes on its ‘Dis-Grace’ story?” Below is just a few of my articles published on my blog in which I criticise the press/media:

  • M&G newspaper fighting solo Court battle to protects its sources
  • Is Rupert Murdoch doing a Bosasa on M&G?
  • Why our media should sleep on its ‘self-regulation’ bed now more than ever
  • Does the media report or assume news?
  • Is there ’copy and past’ in SA newsrooms?
  • What editors need to do to avoid a repeat of The Star and Daily Sun (newspapers) on Malema
  • Is Avusa Media consistent with columnists?
  • Did Avusa and Sunday Times “raise controversy without thought for the consequences” with Roberts’ column?
  • When should “sources” be used?
  • Interview with SA Press Council and Press Ombudsman
  • Did Sunday Times act “ethically” in publishing “Against The Rules Too” report?
  • Public Protector vindicates me on Sunday Times’ “unethical and unlawful” publication of Against The Rules Too
  • M&G playing political games with anonymous sources?
  • Was Mbeki wrong about Press Freedom in 1996?
  • Sunday World and Sunday Times “slave for formula”?
  • Has Mail & Guardian confused you on the Maharaj saga?
  • Was Sowetan’s Mathale “dare” Zuma claim misleading?

In February this year South African Press Council released figures in which it noted the increase of complaints against newspapers. Deputy Press ombudsman said at the time that there was a 70% increase over the last three years in the number of complaints about incorrect or unethical newspaper reports. He said the complainants grew from 150 in 2009 to 213 in 2010 and 255 in 2011.

While criticising the media on 13 March, Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe said his office experienced “problems… with the way ([newspapers] ignored correspondences” from his office, naming The Times newspaper as one of the culprits. This, however, is not to say the press should be suppressed as it now is tempted to with these laws although the government has denied this.

© Screenshot to the blog "Akanyang Africa" by Akanyang Merementsi

© Screenshot to the blog „Akanyang Africa“ by Akanyang Merementsi

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: South Africa is still challenged with many socio-political problems like crime, corruption and poverty. Is the government by President Jacob Zuma doing enough for the South African people or which policies should be changed?

Answer: I would like to believe that the government is doing its best – though not enough – to fight poverty and corruption the country. On 11 March 2012, I was called an “idiot” by someone on Twitter when I put it to him that we – especially white people in the country – have a tendency of saying crime, education and corruption is a “Black problem” or the “ANC problem”. Which are not. So for as long we have people who still 18-years into our democracy see crime, education and crime as a “black person’s problem” then we have a long way to go in overcoming these challenges.

I would also like to believe that we have good policies in fighting these but sometimes lack of community involvement (for whatever reasons) is probably one of the reasons why there is little success in sorting out our education, crime and poverty and corruption challenges.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some voices are denouncing the continuous fragmentation of the South African society in blacks and whites. Would you confirm this perception?

Answer: I have realised that we have accepted and see ourselves on racial terms: black and white people. To achieve the rainbow nation envisioned by former President Nelson Mandela will take probably longer than it took apartheid to rule South Africa. Seeing ourselves as just one human race will be hard-work and not an easy road, I must add.

One of the issues that often come up is that of white people failing to accept some of the awful things their forefathers had done to ours. And it is sad that some of these things still happen to this very day. To address this, I would suggested that we have some sort of a Race Debate because surely Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission did little job in helping both blacks and whites accept one another and our differences. But at the same time – as mentioned in my blog post published on 25 March 2012 and titled “My ‘Black Man Code’ or is it a ‘Trayvon Martin’ moment? – I think white people “… tend to treat us blacks with suspicion” and I hate it.

Associate Press Writer Jesse Washington coined The Black Man Code and he told his son to “Understand that even though you are not a criminal, some people [white in particular] might assume you are, especially if you are wearing certain clothes”. So to a “black male… [to] go above and beyond to show strangers what type of person you really are” – as Washington told his son to do – it will be difficult because this always gives us blacks The Black Man Code. Worse, it sometimes makes us experience that “Trayvon-Martin moment”.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Which impressions do you have from Germany and Germans?

Answer: Unfortunately I cannot form any opinion of Germany and or its people because I have not had any interaction with them.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Akanyang Merementsi – media freak & blogger – thank you very much for this interesting interview!