Violence witnessed in the mining sector this year stems from "underlying social problems that remain", says Anglo American's CEO Cynthia Carroll.
"The violence we have seen in the mining sector this year has its seeds in the legacy of apartheid and the underlying social problems that remain," the mining company's outgoing chief executive said during a discussion at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
"The curse of unemployment means that mine workers often have many other people who are economically dependent on them."
Carroll said the history of the migrant labour system loosened the bonds of family life and dislocated communities.
"The brutalisation of human relationships that occurred under apartheid ... all of these factors can be seen in the turmoil and tragedy we have experienced this year."
Carroll said whatever the challenges the country faced, there were "truths" which had to be faced.
The first was that there was no future for any society without law and order.
Maintaining law and order
"Public order is the bedrock without which civilisation collapses. This year we have seen violence and unrest across the mining industry and in several other sectors."
Another truth the nation had to face was that anarchy in the workplace benefited no one.
Businesses that could not generate adequate returns ultimately collapsed and died.
"It is the responsibility of management, not just to shareholders, but also to employees, to ensure that companies remain economically competitive."
The maintenance of law and order and the restoration of stable labour relations were critical to perceptions of South Africa as a place to do business.
"They [international investors] will make their judgements on the basis of the reality they can see."
'Mining is at the heart of SA economy'
She said the mining sector was at the heart of the South African economy, generating 18.7% of the country's GDP and directly employing 13.5-million people.
"It [mining] has a critical role to play in supporting the aspirations of the new growth path and the objectives of the national development plan."
Carroll said discussions on the regulation of the mining sector had been going on for a long time.
"The spectre of nationalisation has been laid to rest. But the need to guard against damaging regulatory changes remains." – Sapa