On August 16th, 2012, the world looked on in horror as South African police gunned down striking mine workers at Marikana, leaving 34 dead and many more wounded. It was a massacre that echoed apartheid-era violence at Sharpeville and Soweto, shattering the international image of South Africa as a liberated ‘rainbow nation’. The bloodshed laid bare the lingering inequalities and class tensions that have endured beyond South Africa’s democratic transition, and which the ruling African National Congress has done little to address.
A judicial inquiry into the shootings, set up by the South African government two years ago, has just delivered its final report to the president. The details are yet to be made public, but already a battle is raging in South Africa over who will be held accountable and how far up the political ladder blame will spread. The debate comes amid a rising wave of social and labour protests across the country; arguments over Marikana look set to heighten tensions even further.
Zed Books is proud to release Marikana, an eBook exclusive by award-winning Guardian journalist Jack Shenker. Marikana explores the origins of the massacre and the truth behind the establishment’s attempted cover-up, which has played out against a backdrop of growing popular disillusionment with the ANC as well as the growth of worker militancy. Weaving together the history of international mining interests in southern Africa, the mutation of the ANC from economic radicals into free-market cheerleaders and the emergence of new forms of popular resistance, Marikana poses vital questions about the massacre’s legacy both within South Africa’s borders and beyond. Offering a new and invaluable insight into one of the darkest episodes in South Africa’s modern history, Shenker’s work could not be more timely.