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Film Review: Miners shot down

Uhuru Productions

A Film by Rehad Desai

31 January 2015

"Miners shot down”, an account of the massacre of South African mineworkers at Marikana in 2012, was given two screening by UNISON's community and voluntary branch in Belfast and Derry on January 22nd-23rd. 

The film tells an uncomplicated story of murder and betrayal at the South Africa's platinum mine. The story was supported by the presence at the showing of Jim Nichol, lawyer for many families of those killed, 

The perpetrators of the crime are the mining bosses of London-based Lonmin, the compliant trade union leaders of the National Union of Mineworkers, the ANC government and the state forces. The victims are the miners - denied a living wage, subject to mass killings and 200 survivors charged with murder on the grounds that they had forced the police to open fire.

At the centre of the narrative sits Cyril Ramaphosa, once a union activist in the mines and ANC activist, now a non-executive director of the mining company with a personal fortune of £700 million and implicated in the massacre.

A lively discussion followed the film. It was argued that the situation in Ireland could not be compared to that in South Africa. Levels of personal corruption were much lower and workers did not face high levels of state violence.

However one speaker recalled that Cyril Ramaphosa had been an active proponent of the peace process in Ireland and had toured Sinn Fein cumann in support of the Adams leadership.  The ANC also hosted seminars in responsible government in which Sinn Fein was coached on their future roles.

At one level the film painted a dark story of repression. At another level it was a story of hope. The repression was followed by a wave of strikes by 70,000  platinum workers led by the new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union,  a wage increase for the miners and the beginning of a new struggle against a corrupt trade union and political leadership.

Can anyone doubt that such a struggle is required in Ireland?

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