Johannesburg — A claim by EFF leader Julius Malema that the ANC government is responsible for the so-called massacre in Marikana is disingenuous, the ruling party said on Thursday.
"We believe that he has abused the privilege of Parliament by making a reckless and irresponsible statement on a matter that is under consideration by the Farlam Commission," African National Congress spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.
"In his eagerness to project the ANC negatively, he wants to mislead the public that the ANC and its government took a decision to massacre 44 people in Marikana, including mineworkers, police, and security guards."
Kodwa accused the Economic Freedom Fighters of trying to undermine the Farlam Commission of inquiry into the August 2012 shooting and prejudge its outcome.
During his maiden speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Malema hit a soft spot when he accused President Jacob Zuma's ANC government of being directly responsible for the Marikana shootings.
Malema's remarks drew criticism from the ANC benches, with a ruling party MP jumping up and demanding that he withdraw his statement.
Malema refused to withdraw, and National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise, who was presiding over the joint sitting with the National Assembly at the time, intervened and told the House she would take advice and rule on Malema's remarks on Thursday.
Kodwa pointed out that government condemned the Marikana shootings and called for an investigation.
"The ANC as the leader of society believes in the sanctity of life and that everything should be done to avoid death.
"We believe that opportunistic accusations like we have observed, fail to account that circumstances like Marikana, unless properly investigated and stern decisions taken based on outcome, can undermine responsibility and accountability of all parties that were involved and are responsible," he said.
Zuma appointed the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, chaired by retired Judge Ian Farlam, in 2012 to investigate the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Lonmin's platinum mining operations at Marikana, near Rustenburg, North West.
Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, over 70 were wounded, and another 250 arrested on August 16, 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two security guards, were killed.