“Is it against the law? Certainly not, but it's disturbing. We should be worried that businesses with political connections get better treatment and [more] access than the business next door without members of the ANC National Executive on their board,” Friedman says.
Friedman's referring to news that an email authored by Ramaphosa to Lonmin management and government on the eve of the Marikana massacre is being blamed for prompting the shootings that led to the deaths of 34 striking miners.
Friedman says the Lonmin CEO should have been the one to call on authorities to intervene in the situation at the mine, rather than asking Ramaphosa to use his political clout. Two policemen and another eight people had already been killed in Marikana when Ramaphosa allegedly called for intervention on 15 August.
Representative for the miners, advocate Dali Mpofu, is said to have told the Farlam Commission of Inquiry yesterday that in an email to Lonmin management and government, including police and Minister of Minerals and Energy Susan Shabangu, Ramaphosa described the protest action by miners as criminal activity and called for concomitant action to be taken.
Ramaphosa's a Non-executive Director of Lonmin through Shanduka Group’s 9% holding in the mining company’s black economic empowerment partner, Incwala Resources. Shanduka holds a 50% stake in Incwala.
According to the Sowetan newspaper, Mpofu blamed the “toxic collusion” between state and capital for having caused the deaths of the miners.
Mpofu was quoted as saying: “At the centre of the collusion is a gentleman called Cyril Ramaphosa, who – 24 hours before the Marikana massacre –advised that the criminal activity by the miners must be met with force.”
Led by retired judge Ian Farlam, the commission was set up by President Jacob Zuma to find out what happened on the day the miners were gunned down by police.
Shanduka Group has declined to comment on the accusations made against Ramaphosa. Corporate Communications Executive Steyn Speed said: “Because the statements made are part of an official judicial enquiry, we've decided not to make any public comments at this stage.”
It's the second time this year that Ramaphosa’s public image has taken a knock. Earlier this year he was criticised for bidding R19,5 million on a buffalo cow and her calf at a game auction. He was forced to apologise.
“I regret it because it's an excessive price in the sea of poverty. I belong to a community and it was one of those moments when I was blind-sighted,” Ramaphosa told SAFM.
To counter the negative press, Ramaphosa’s public relations machinery went into overdrive and an assortment of media bore witness as he went back to the primary school he'd attended as a child to publicise the commendable work done by Shanduka’s Adopt-a-School Foundation.
Family members of the slain miners were forced to watch footage of the shootings yesterday as the commission viewed evidence provided by several media agencies. Proceedings had to be adjourned for lunch earlier than planned because the relatives were distressed.
The enquiry will resume next Monday.