Mama Marikana visits Parliament

Over the last few weeks, I have been working closely with the crew behind the mind-blowing upcoming documentary, Mama Marikana.

This film tracks the story of the recovery of the women whose husband’s died at the Marikana shooting in South Africa and the subsequent efforts of female empowerment that followed.

One of the characters in the documentary has progressed to working parliament with the EFF since the shooting and was one of the MP’s charged for disrupting the house on 21st August 2014. Today was the official disciplinary hearing for the charged EFF members and so I once again joined the crew, this time to enter parliamentary chambers and film the under goings of the hearing.

After being denied media entry into parliament for almost two hours, we were eventually permitted entrance and began filming. The process was exceptionally diplomatic, and despite some initial hiccups around procedure and translators for non-English speaking members of the EFF, the hearing continued.

The alleged charges were read to each EFF member, who was requested to confirm that they have heard, read, understood and accepted both the charges against them and the manner in which they were being presented. No pleads were voiced, but the responses from the members were all uttered in their native languages and translated by other members of the EFF. Responses varied from basic replied to almost cheeky acceptances of what was being addressed.

About two hours into the hearing, Malema was given an opportunity to speak on behalf of the EFF MPs, and delivered an exceptionally well structured and succinct account of the events of the 21st Aug as well as the EFF’s constitutional stance on the matter. It was clearly stated that the EFF’s position was that this hearing was unnecessary, and potentially biased.

“EFF cannot assist the committee to legitimise the wishes of Luthuli House. You are hell bent to finish the little humanness and soul remaining of us after all the insults hurled on us at the house by members of your party who will never for once ever appear before you for such crude insults. What justice and fairness should EFF expect in a process where the judge is ANC, the complainant is ANC, the witness is ANC and the prosecutor is ANC, the house decision maker is ANC. You may as well hold this hearing at Luthuli House.” – Julius Malema (full speech here)

This address by Malema, was the final event of the hearing, as he concluded by stating that “Whatever is the outcome of this process, the EFF will not be participating”. All EFF members then rose, ignoring the Chairperson’s call for order, and exited the court room with smiles and chanting songs.

It does seem as if the EFF will continue to challenge the current conduct of parliament whilst trying to instate the law of the constitution, which can easily be argued to be beneficial for the growth of the country. The government is now required to not merely continue their leadership of this country as they always have, but to analyse and answer to a political group that considers itself the true representatives of the workers of the nation.

Despite this, the EFF’s actions may well result in stronger resistance against them from the perspective of the government and could detriment their strength as a political party in the long term. At this point, nothing further can be determined until the Parliament Powers and Privileges Committee respond in some manner to today’s events.

NEWS FLASH (19 March 2016): Since this post was written, Mama Marikana has been in the process of being developed into a full feature length film. Please see the trailer for the incredible work done by Aliki Saragas below. This movie, along with Miner’s Shot Down, are two of the most socially and politically prominent documentaries that are currently fighting for public recognition among South African citizens. After a many rejections, Miner’s Shot Down was finally aired on South Africa television in late 2015. Efforts to call ministers and police to respond to this event are still ongoing.

Visit to Parliament for the EFF hearing
Photographs: Jamie Dimitra Ashton

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