JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday blamed poverty and inequality for a tragedy at the Lonmin Marikana Platinum Mine, in which 44 people were killed. Socioeconomic desperation linked with poverty and inequality was a major factor leading to the tragedy, said Makonde Mathivha, a spokesman for the ANC in Limpopo Province.
Thousands of miners started a protest to press their demand for a rise in salaries on August 10. But violence erupted among the miners who are linked to different trade unions. In nearly a week of fighting between rival miner unions, 10 people were killed, including two police officers and two security guards.
The miners later clashed with police deployed to monitor the situation. The clashes left 34 miners killed and more than 78 others injured in what is believed to be the worst mine tragedy in post-apartheid era.
Police and trade unions blamed each other for the tragedy. But Mathivha said that the inequality gaps and extreme levels of poverty leading to the kind of socioeconomic desperation experienced by large portions of our population on a daily basis "is the underlying reason".
"Clear, unambiguous steps need to be taken by leaders, both in government and the private sector, to vigorously pursue economic transformation at an unparalleled pace if a repeat of this kind of senseless massacre is to be avoided," he said.
Mathivha stressed that only through realization of economic emancipation for hardworking and impoverished communities, can socioeconomic problems be resolved.
He warned against using heavily armed police to tackle socioeconomic problems.