A police officer fires shots to disperse miners at Lonmin's Marikana operation. File photo: Reuters

Johannesburg - The Marikana shootings exposed many flaws in South Africa and highlighted the need to tackle problems in the labour market, according to a report released on Wednesday.

“Marikana seems to have opened up space for a potentially constructive debate about the direction of the country. It is a space South Africans desperately need to exploit,” said the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

Its report “Marikana and the future of South Africa’s labour market” is based on a round-table discussion between academics, business people, labour experts and members of the government in November.

It concluded that it was clear the “winds of change” were blowing through South Africa's labour market institutions.

The discussion focused on what South Africa could learn from the experiences of regulating and reforming the labour markets of India, Brazil and Malaysia.

“What Marikana shows is that the country needs to tackle the challenges of the labour market with urgency and purpose,” the report found.

“It is to be hoped that this tragedy will spur South African leaders Äacross the Cabinet, the business community, and the trade unions Ä into a new appreciation of the fundamental challenges we are facing.”

It said “thoughtful leadership” was needed on a range of issues central to the labour market, on more effective housing policy, urbanisation, quality governance and the future of the migrant labour system.

The report found that the participants in the discussion did not agree on all the key lessons of Marikana, but there were common themes.

“There was, for instance, wide acknowledgement of the failure of leadership on all sides before and after Marikana.

“ 1/8There was also 3/8... agreement that some of the country’s most important institutions dealing with labour market regulation and with local and provincial government are in urgent need of reform.”

On August 16, 34 striking Lonmin mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when the police opened fire while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week. - Sapa