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Songezo Zibi Considers Marikana a Microcosm of South Africa in this Excerpt from Raising the Bar

Raising the BarThe Mail & Guardian has shared an extract from Songezo Zibi’s new book, Raising the Bar: Hope and Renewal in South Africa.

In Raising the Bar, Zibi scrutinises the enormous challenges faces by contemporary South Africans. His book looks at race, leadership, politics, government, violence, the position of women and the taboos that haunt us.

In this excerpt, Zibi turns his attention to the Marikana massacre, in which 24 mineworkers were killed by the South African Police Service, saying that “deep examination of Marikana reveals, in many ways, the story of South Africa so far”.

Read the excerpt:

No one, it seems, has taken responsibility of their own free will for any of what happened at Marikana.

Public outrage was severe but temporary. In May 2014, the ANC was returned to power with a resounding majority. People’s anger clearly did not extend as far as removing the ANC from office, although a far smaller proportion of the population voted for the party than had done so at any other point in the 20 years before.

Many of the striking mineworkers were not from Rustenburg or the surrounding areas. Some of them were from outside the country — Lesotho and Mozambique — and others were from the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and other provinces. Most of South Africa’s mineworkers live and work far away from their families and only see them once or twice a year.

The work they do is backbreaking and it does not pay particularly well. In fact, given the financial obligations many South Africans have in supporting not just core but extended families too, the salaries of the striking workers simply do not go far enough.

The same is true for millions of other workers in the country, who are obliged out of necessity to live apart from their families without the opportunity of being a complete household. This means that women are left to do most of the work that should be done by, or with the help of, their husbands. This is particularly the case in the rural areas. These women are also extremely vulnerable to violence and other forms of abuse, as indeed are women from all walks of life.

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