Pretoria: Decisive leadership, the labour relations framework in the mining sector and the introduction of the National Development Plan (NDP) has contributed to South Africa’s reputation of being perceived positively ever since the Marikana tragedy a year ago.
Briefing journalists in Pretoria on Monday, Brand SA’s chief executive Miller Matola also said the country’s improved ratings around its financial discipline, education and human development, amongst others, has led to the world viewing South Africa as a preferred destination for investors.
Matola spoke to journalists on how South Africa has fared since the tragic death of 34 mineworkers at the Lonmin mine near Rustenburg on August 16 last year. The country on Friday remembered the Marikana tragedy, and the lives lost in Marikana in strike-related unrest.
He said the response to the tragedy by the South African government has contributed to the positive outlook.
“I think what is important is the action that came out of that and what was gratifying for us as South Africans, was that in July, for example, Moody’s indicated that they were encouraged by the kind of responses they were seeing, hence they affirmed our rating although still keeping it at a negative.
“But I think the critical point is they affirmed the rating. [That] really speaks to some of the actions that have been taken by the government in terms of commitment to fiscal discipline, ensuring we bring down our debt to GDP ratios.”
Matola said it was importantly that the NDP was being accepted as a policy and was being adopted by government departments as a framework that they now needed to deliver on as government’s mandate.
Matola said while the second half of 2012 and part of 2013 proved to be very testing times, President Jacob Zuma’s decision to immediately set up the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s role in developing a framework to ensure the mining industry was not hit with the same tragedy were good steps.
While the Commission of Inquiry was still on-going, government, the mining industry and labour unions – with the exception of mining union AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) – signed a framework aimed at bringing stability in the mining sector.
He said on top of an increased investment in skills and education, South Africa had, according to recent studies and surveys, improved in terms of rankings when it came to education, doing business and the confidence in its banking sector.
“I think talking about the issue of competitiveness, it is also instructive to look at the past year in which we experienced some challenges with reference to Marikana. If you look at the Nation Brand Index … we remained 36 out of 50 countries and largely those are developed economies.
“That is a year when two-thirds of the economies declined in terms of their brands and I think that says a lot about this country.”
Matola also said after hosting the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup – which enhanced South Africa’s reputation globally – the country’s next world cup should be the implementation of the National Development Plan, as that would contribute towards addressing socio-economic challenges such as poverty, unemployment and inequalities.