The first question asked by many executives I met in the UK last week - executives involved in international businesses, all of them with well-moulded world views - included the word "Marikana". What was this about? More importantly, what did it forebode?
According to African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, the eruption at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine is the result of an intervention by counter-revolutionaries, the Association of Mining and Construction Workers (Amcu), which is raining on the National Union of Mineworkers’ traditional parade. Of course, Mantashe is a former trade unionist and, until a few weeks ago, an important office bearer in the South African Communist Party, a career he thinks makes him an expert on revolutions and counter-revolutions.
Be that as it may, the events at Marikana, starkly portrayed in the foreign media, have catapulted SA into the categories "Stay away from" or just plain "Dangerous".
› Platinum riches eluding communities
› Investors staying away after Marikana
The immediate problem with which Mantashe and others are wrestling is contained in one word: Mangaung. A few years ago it was Polokwane and many are wondering whether the "Anyone But Zuma" camp will triumph and, if it does, is SA to bear witness once again to the "recall" of a president?
Going abroad, even for a few days, does cast fresh light - not necessarily correct - on our slew of problems. But one thing persists: I am conscious of a sea change taking place in the political forum. Whether that’s good or not is another matter, but something is taking place.
It is possible that President Jacob Zuma will survive the movement to remove him - he is a canny grassroots politician who has demonstrated unusual buoyancy and perseverance. It is easy to underestimate him and that, as many have discovered, can be an irrecoverable error.
But even if he survives, the ANC is in the throes of what may turn out to be a major introspective interrogation. The process of shedding the baggage of a liberation movement and becoming a genuine political party with a clear understanding of national problems is proving much more painful than expected. It is possible the ANC will mutate more than once in this evolution. We may see alternative "new" versions waving the legacy of past triumphs, while shedding its failures and trumpeting a changed future.
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