South Africa Mine Killings Could Hurt Zuma Ahead Of Elections

South African's President Jacob Zuma rose to power as a man of the people but seemed a world away from the masses when he stood in a suit under a parasol to speak to destitute miners about the deadliest police killing since apartheid ended.

The deaths of 44 in a labour dispute this month at Lonmin's Marikana mine, including 34 armed miners shot by police, could undermine Zuma's populist appeal and threaten his chances in a December vote where he seeks re-election as the leader of the party that dominates politics.
Zuma's critics say the day last week he spoke to miners for a few minutes under the blazing sun showed him more beholden to special interest groups than to millions of South Africans waiting for him to ease poverty.

He took more time to speak to Lonmin's executives than miners and then left the mine to dance in front of cameras at a ruling African National Congress event, despite declaring a week of mourning.
"Our government is becoming a pig that is eating its own children," Julius Malema, the ANC Youth League expelled from the ruling party after crossing swords with Zuma, said at a memorial service on Thursday for the victims.
"Our government is failing to intervene in mines because our leaders are involved in mines," Malema said.
It is too early to tell how much damage Zuma will suffer from the killings at the Marikana mine, northwest of Johannesburg, but the president's foes have been using the event to store ammunition before December's vote.
"The fact that Zuma ordered police to bring the Lonmin strike under control has exposed him to accusations of complicity in the miners' deaths," Mark Rosenberg wrote in a note for the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

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