Beyond Marikana: the crisis – Massacre ‘shows how fragile SA is’

2012-09-15 17:26

South African diplomatic missions across the world have been bombarded with phone calls from locals asking questions about what’s happening in Marikana.

A government official told City Press that embassies in Argentina,­ Japan and France received an overwhelming number of calls, mostly from media, to get clarity.

Japan is one of South Africa’s biggest trading partners and events like the ones at Marikana and the crisis that followed makes them jittery.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies is expecting questions about Marikana at the upcoming European Union (EU) summit next week.

“I think it will come but we have ­always said Marikana does not affect our foreign direct investment,” said spokesperson Sidwell Medupe.

Davies also met with investors two weeks ago in the UK on the sidelines of a Brics summit in London to ­appease members about the crisis in the mining sector.

A South African-based foreign ­correspondent said: “It came as a great shock to our readers and viewers, and it played into their pessimism that South Africa in the post-Mandela era is going down the drain.”

Editors for international outlets had to be convinced the Marikana massacre was not the start of South Africa’s version of the Arab Spring.

“They said ‘this could be it’. It took a while to convince them this is not the Arab Spring.”

In particular, the charging of the miners with the murders of their 34 colleagues sent shockwaves through international audiences, the correspondent confirmed.

An American correspondent based in Joburg said Marikana shows how deep the problems are in South
African society and what happens when they are not dealt with in a systematic way.

“There was total disbelief that you can have a mixed-race police force opening fire on workers.

“People know the story about the transition, but they don’t know the ­extent of the inequality,” she said.

Despite government’s insistence that investors are not being scared off by recent events, foreign correspondents maintain it can’t be that simple.

“I’d be thinking twice about investing in South Africa.

“Marikana has shown how fragile South Africa actually still is,” a British correspondent said.


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