The Marikana Renewal Programme: Hope from TragedyRiaan du Plessis
Marikana is a town that is over 150 years old. Based in the North West province, it was once known as Rooikoppies, which means “red hills”. Maize and tobacco used to be farmed amongst other crops in the early 1900s. The 1970s introduced platinum mining to the area. This sector quickly became the region’s main industry. Today the area has a population of over 30 000 people.
Marikana is a community beset with challenges. There are serious, intense socio-economic needs that need to be addressed.
The awful massacre that took place at Marikana caused wounds that many feel will never heal. The tragedy of 16 August 2012 has to a large extent overshadowed all the other challenges facing this community. Even a cursory Google search will bring up many links to details of the fateful day. But not much information seems readily available about the region itself.
One of the main contributing factors to the strike in the lead up to the disaster was the squalid conditions that so many residents have no choice but to live in. Basic services such as clean water, refuse removal and sewage plants were all neglected, if not non-existent. One of the saddest facts is how little has changed in the years since then.
Poverty and inequality are also rampant. Job opportunities are scarce and offer little beyond working at the mine. It is even worse for the women in the community. These are acknowledged factors that lead to increased crime rates. Violent crime is common in such conditions.
The massacre became known worldwide. What is less well-known is just how deep the sense of betrayal and abandonment runs. This is a community that has been let down by both private and public stakeholders. Many feel as if society as a whole has forgotten its plight.
The Needs are Great – But There is Hope
The great need that faces the community has been recognised by all parties involved. The mining sector, government, community leaders and citizens themselves have all joined hands to work towards a better future for Marikana.
This multi-stakeholder alliance has birthed the Marikana Renewal Programme. It is a multifaceted approach to dealing with the district’s many particular needs. This collaborative initiative aims to see healing come to the embattled community. It seeks to renew the vision of the people.
The residents and community leaders are eager to see a better future for the district. They are proactively working to build that future and be part of the process of seeing it come to pass.
Honouring the Past, Engaging the Present and Creating a Better Future
The inaugural Marikane Memorial Lecture yielded a commitment to address the needs of the community.
The Marikana Renewal Programme, hosted by Sibanye-Stillwater, seeks to see all stakeholders move forward. It seeks to see the people of Marikana leading themselves with Ubuntu. An inclusive future can be brought about. This will be through healing, building trust and walking together.
Everyone must come together and unite to see a different Marikana in the future. It will be a rebirth. We will see a new legacy of hope and healing in the district and surrounds.
Three key aspects will accomplish this. First, by remembering the lives that were lost in the tragedy of 2012. A wall of remembrance has been erected in their honour. Ongoing counselling is being provided to the widows and children of the victims. The commitment to housing and educational assistance is being honoured.
Second, engagement means listening and collaborating to forge a mutually beneficial way forward for everyone. Mutually respectful relationships will be prioritised and fostered. Inclusive representation and trust are vital to see success in the programme.
Third, the opportunity to co-create economic and social development must be seized. The local community will have a stronger flow of value injected into it by sound business practises. This will contribute to the effective implementation of the programme.
The Need for Moral Renewal
In order to see true socio-economic renewal, moral renewal must take place. The need for moral renewal is recognised by all the stakeholders.
One of the focuses of the project has been to mobilise faith leaders in the community. An emphasis is on pastors of churches taking hold of the vision of hope and leading their congregations into a better future. It will be the local people of Marikana who will play a vital role in uplifting their community. The church leaders will play a fundamental role in mobilising the churchgoers to this end.
These church leaders will be agents of change and socio-economic revival in the Marikana communities.
Seeing the positive socio-economic upliftment of the most vulnerable and marginalised
It is the most vulnerable people that are often most overlooked. It is the excluded people that need to see their wellbeing enhanced.
The implementation of restoration programmes will be a source of this positive change. These will be in the spheres of agriculture and environmental restoration.
It is also through the implementation of broad-based livelihood initiatives that the experience of the downtrodden will be changed. Umsizi-STI has begun to roll out these initiatives and results are already taking shape.
Household food production programmes are already bearing fruit. The people are being taught how to produce their own food through sustainable means. This ensures that households are able to feed themselves. It is also an avenue to earning an income. The surplus crops are then sold in local businesses. These local businesses are often their own spaza shops. This is one very effective way to instil a sense of pride and purpose in the participants of the broad-based livelihoods programme.
Participants are also taught to install their own infrastructure. This not only meets practical needs in the community but also restores a sense of dignity.
This is not simply outsiders bringing short term solutions. These are not short-sighted initiatives that alleviate the symptoms briefly and then fade away. This is equipping people with the knowledge and skills to forge their own brighter futures for themselves. The implementation of this programme is bringing real change to people’s lives. It is empowering the most vulnerable and marginalised.
Umsizi-STI is Proud of the Privilege to be Part of this Initiative
Umsizi-STI is passionate about seeing sustainable social solutions yielding results. Developing enduring and respectful relationships is a key component to seeing these outcomes come to pass.
A focus is starting with what ordinary people have. Beginning with what is in a community’s hands, however little that might be, and building from that starting point to see drastic improvement in personal productivity and GDP of each household. This is key to seeing social empowerment in even the poorest and most disadvantaged communities.
All these aspects of what we do as company and more have been brought to bear in Marikana. Even the preliminary response shows these aspects have been wonderfully realised in the Marikana Renewal Programme. The uptake has already been incredible and initial results are encouraging and positive.
Umsizi-STI is proud and privileged to be a part of this programme. We are committed to being part of the long-term development of this afflicted community. We look forward to seeing the fruit of changed lives and community transformation. From the tentative first steps already taken we will be there to be part of the lasting solution. Enduring results is what Umsizi-STI thrives on.
We are humbled by the strength and resilience of the residents of Marikana. Their passion and vigour in the face of overwhelming odds is exemplary. We hope to emulate their example as we work with them to see the district renewed.