South Africa: Govt Respects the Constitutional Rights of Marikana Residents but Has to Promote Peace and Order

press release

The Presidency wishes to point out that the law enforcement measures undertaken in Marikana are not in any way aimed at undermining the civil liberties of strikers and residents of the area.

The people of Marikana, including the strikers, are entitled to the rights of freedom of association, expression, assembly and association like all South Africans, as enshrined in the Constitution of the land.

Clause 17 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right, "peacefully and unarmed", to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions.

All South Africans, including those in Marikana, also have the right to fair labour practices as enshrined in Clause 23 (1) of the Constitution.

  • Every worker has the right:
  • to form and join a trade union;
  • to participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union; and
  • to strike.

Every employer has the right:

  • to form and join an employers' organisation; and
  • to participate in the activities and programmes of an employers' organisation.

Every trade union and every employers' organisation has the right:

  • to determine its own administration, programmes and activities
  • to organise; and
  • to form and join a federation.

In addition there are laws that give meaning to these rights which include the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act and others.

There are also laws governing the rights to freedom of association, assembly and related aspects.

Said President Zuma: "Government has not and will never take away the constitutional rights of our people that they worked so hard for during the struggle for liberation. Government action in Marikana is directed at ensuring that citizens exercise their rights peacefully and within the ambit of the law, as would be required in any democratic country in the world. Government cannot allow a situation where people march in the streets carrying dangerous weapons. We cannot allow them to intimidate others or incite violence as we also have to protect the rights of those who do not want to be part of the protests or the strikes."

The President added that the living conditions of workers on the platinum belt remain unacceptable.

He said "Government understands fully the plight of the poor and the working class in our country. They remain our priority as we work to build a better life. We urge the mining sector to play their own part by immediately ensuring compliance with the Mining Charter, which includes the provision of single occupant hostels and family units. There are still hostels where 166 people share four toilets in some mines and that is not acceptable. Mining companies and the trade unions must urgently discuss and resolve the issues."

The President emphasised that workers have a right to engage their employers on wages or working conditions, and that the State is not taking sides in the dispute. The State is only intervening in Marikana to end the violence and intimidation.

President Zuma extended his condolences to the family of National Union of Mineworkers shop steward, Mr Dumisani Mthinti who was found hacked to death in Marikana last week, becoming the 45th person to be killed in Marikana.

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