RARELY have seven writers provided such a rich and thought-provoking mosaic of an event and its significance within the broader polity within days of its happening. I am talking of your op-ed articles on Monday (August 20) about what led to the 34 violent deaths at Marikana last week, written by six columnists plus the writer of the main editorial column.
Anybody with a stake in SA would have gained valuable insights from reading one or two of the articles. The exceptional value, however, was in the offering in its entirety. Add to that your own column (The Thick End of the Wedge) with its chilling vignettes on Julius Malema’s demagoguery.
A theme highlighted in all but one of the articles is that of perceived powerlessness of individuals in the face of an uncaring society. All were about the lack of leadership at all levels, from the Union Buildings through the National Union of Mineworkers and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) to Lonmin’s managers.
While each writer, from Aubrey Matshiqi and Stephen Grootes to John Kane-Berman and Gavin Keeton, added valid angles to the sum, the articles of Songezo Zibi (Lonmin shows gravity of SA’s economic, social challenges) and Tim Cohen (Anger driven by stereotypes of Scrooge-like bosses) stood out for the empirical quality of their content. So did the lead editorial (Microcosm of SA’s key issues).
Mr Zibi, the most recent and a particularly excellent addition to your roster of columnists, delivered a tour de force of rational analysis encompassing society as a whole. Likewise Mr Cohen, albeit within the narrower parameters of the mining sector. It was good to see the editorial dwell at some length on the dangerous folly of Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu’s exclusion of Amcu from last weekend’s launch of a task force looking at labour issues in the platinum industry.
All told, while the combined message, here as elsewhere, was that we are toast unless We The People as a whole get our act together, Business Day provided the most comprehensive wake up call. For that you deserve congratulations.