JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa had succeeded in extricating itself from its grave political problems in the past and the country would succeed again in finding solutions in the wake of the horrific Marikana tragedy, Cynthia Carroll said on Tuesday.
At the same time, the Anglo American CEO, who is stepping down after six years, warned that South Africa had to restore stable labour relations and foster a business environment attractive to international investors.
Carroll drew thunderous applause from a packed Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) audience when she concluded her 30-minute address by saying that “the naysayers and the doomsdayers constantly forecast disaster, but in response, I say loud and clear, South Africa has done it before and it will do it again”, by arriving at a post-Marikana solution to which her company was also totally committed.
She said that the Constitutional foundation that had been laid when South Africa transitioned from the “dark night of apartheid to the new dawn of democracy” would help the country disentangle itself from its post-Marikana crisis.
She observed that the curse of unemployment had resulted in mineworkers often having a large number of economic dependents, against the background of the migrant labour system loosening the bonds of family life and dislocating communities.
Many underlying pressures had been further inflamed by bitter rivalry between established and emerging unions, with a political division underpinning that rivalry.
But whatever the underlying causes, simple truths had to be recognised, and the first of these was that there was no future for any society without law and order.
“We saw people murdered. We saw people brutally attacked. We saw extensive damage to property, all designed to create a climate of fear that would deter people from going to work,” Carroll said of Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) own experience, adding that it was time for all right-thinking people to say “enough is enough”.
The second truth was that workplace anarchy did not benefit anybody and freely negotiated collective agreements had to be observed.
The third truth was that economic reality could not be defied and businesses that could not generate adequate returns would ultimately collapse and die.
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