Marikana a lesson for us all: Motlanthe

7 September 2012

The Marikana tragedy should serve as a challenge for South Africans to reassess how the country tackles poverty and inequality, and to find a common vision to ensure more inclusive growth going forward, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

“It also challenges us to recommit ourselves to more effective social dialogue at national and regional level,” Motlanthe said on Friday.

He was speaking at the opening of the annual National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) summit in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg. Other speakers at the summit included trade union federation Cosatu’s general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, and businessman Raymond Parsons.

Forty-four people were killed, including two police officers, during clashes between striking Lonmin platinum mine workers and the police in Marikana, North West province last month. President Jacob Zuma has appointed a judicial commission of inquiry to probe the incident.

Motlanthe said while the events would be fully investigated, South Africans needed to learn from the tragedy and find a common vision in order to take the country forward.

“Now is the time to begin laying the basis for a social contract for our labour relations and our labour market that will contribute to achieving a more equitable and inclusive form of economic growth,” he said.

The government this week stressed the need to maintain stability and confidence in the country’s mining sector, cautioning those who sought to incite violence to refrain from doing so.

Motlanthe, in a bid to assure investors, on Friday said the year to date had seen important milestones for South Africa, including a 2.7 percent increase in gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2012 and a further 3.2 percent growth in the 2nd quarter.

Although the country had not recovered the jobs it lost during the 2008-09 global financial crisis, more than 320 p000 jobs had been created in the formal sector between mid-2011 and this year.

“There are grounds for cautious optimism that the economy may be moving into a more stable phase of growth,” Motlanthe said.

However, he cautioned that many risks remained in the international economic environment, saying a lot depended on how the eurozone crisis was resolved.

Working for continued positive growth in the economy would be the most important way in which South Africa addressed poverty and unemployment, Motlanthe said.