Today 11 years ago, 34 mineworkers were killed and 78 injured, many of them critically, because they dared to stand up and speak out against their living conditions and their low wages. These men were shot down, some at point blank range, by a government and its police force whose response to protest is brutality.
There is no closure and there is incomplete justice for the families who are now fatherless. This is a blemish on our nation, and we ought to right these wrongs.
That is why we call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare 16
August Marikana Memorial Day - to be commemorated each year in honour of the breadwinners who were killed 11 years ago.
The President is empowered, through proclamation, to declare any day to be observed and commemorated. We implore him to do the right thing and declare today a commemorative day. This is just the beginning of the healing.
On this day we acknowledge the role of the mining community in carrying this economy on their backs. There would be no South African economy if not for the risks that are taken daily by the miners of South Africa. Indeed, miners risk their lives and health daily to support their families, and to support the economies of South Africa, and the colonial powers before that. They are the unsung heroes of South Africa. On this day we must continue to advocate for better conditions for miners, and for better pay.
This is also a time when to consider the mining sector more broadly and ask ourselves what the future of mining is in South Africa, and what role the sector can play in the next chapter of our democracy.
Our economy is extractive in design - built on facilitating the sale of coal, platinum and other minerals to the rest of the world. South Africa is one of the world's largest producers of platinum, gold, and chromium. Extractive economies have two fundamental challenges: they exacerbate inequality, and they do not provide for long-term sustainable growth.
When there is no electricity, the mines can't do their work, and, as a result, the economy suffers. And when there is a breakdown in our ports and in our rail systems, the economy suffers because our mines cannot deliver their products to the rest of the world.
However, the economy cannot rely on mines forever. Minerals run out; minerals become more expensive to extract; and some forms of mining are harmful to the environment. We must move our economy progressively from being extractive, to constructive; from being extractive, to being inclusive.
By moving to a constructive economy, we mean an economy based on building skills and capacity for beneficiation and for industrialisation. The mining sector has a role to play in creating this constructive and inclusive economy. And elevating our people’s living conditions, skillsets and incomes from the darkest recesses of society.
BOSA is committed to finding ways to close the economic gap between the mines, mine-owners and mining communities and make the mining sector more competitive and a global beacon of equity and growth. We cannot stand by and watch as our citizens will continue to risk their lives daily, and our economy continues to decline.