The victims of the Marikana massacre should not be used as instruments to mend relations between the ANC and the EFF, Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa said on Monday.
"We were unpleasantly surprised in the recent address at the funeral of our struggle icon and heroine Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela that the state president has courted the leadership of the EFF to nicodemusly (secretly) go and apologise to the widows of the Marikana massacre," he said in an open letter.
This was after ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa said at Madikizela-Mandela's funeral at the weekend that he would take EFF leader Julius Malema with him "to heal the wounds of those in Marikana".
Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela had promised that she would take him to Marikana to formally apologise to the widows of the 34 miners who were killed.
"I am going to go to Marikana without you, but I will be guided by your spirit," he said at the funeral service.
Before Ramaphosa delivered his eulogy, Malema first lauded the president and then hit out at him, without mentioning his name, over the killing of striking mineworkers in the North West's Marikana tragedy in 2012.
EFF, ANC 'short-sighted'
Mathunjwa said AMCU was not interested in this "marriage of convenience".
"Close to 30 000 Lonmin workers, who are today members of AMCU, were touched by this incident one way or the other. It is therefore short-sighted for the leadership of both political parties to think that they can approach the widows of the Marikana Massacre as a wholesome extension of the olive branch."
AMCU had welcomed Ramaphosa's stance in his reply to the debate on his State of the Nation Address earlier this year that he would play whatever role he could in the process of healing and atonement.
"We believe that the approach taken by the president's pronouncement [at the weekend] is narrow and does not meet the expectations of AMCU in its current format."
Mathunjwa said the union was apolitical.
"We are worried therefore by this narrative which seeks to project the EFF as closer to AMCU than any other political party. The suggestion that the EFF leadership can provide access to the widows of the Marikana victims is misleading and an underhand attempt to undermine AMCU in this reconciliation process."
Apology from the police necessary for 'healing'
He urged Ramaphosa to review his approach.
"We view the process initiated by the president in serious light as a stepping stone to reconciliation and finding closure to this matter. Our members have been persecuted, victimised and vilified because of the Marikana massacre.
"To pay lip service to this process by opening old wounds with no intention to genuinely close them will be inhumane to say the least. We therefore commit to work with the president if he is serious about embarking on a healing process."
The union emphasised that it did not need the EFF or any other political party to mediate.
It was open to participating in a process that involved direct stakeholders, Lonmin, state institutions and organised labour.
Mathunjwa said the union viewed the healing process as one broader than the president's apology and "which might require the leadership of the SAPS tendering their own apology as well".