* Central bank: may need to revisit growth outlook
* More than 70 miners arrested in clashes
* Zuma calls meeting on economy
By David Dolan
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 14 Two months of crippling
labour turmoil are likely to force South Africa to look again at
its economic growth forecasts, the central bank's deputy
governor said on Sunday.
Wildcat strikes that started in the platinum mines have left
more than 50 people dead and spilled to other industries,
undermining investor confidence in Africa's biggest economy and
tarnishing President Jacob Zuma's government.
More than 70 miners were arrested after clashes with police
over the weekend and workers at Anglo American Platinum
pledged to press on with their wildcat strike even after the
company dismissed thousands of strikers.
"Growth forecasts will most likely need to be revisited,"
Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Daniel Mminele said in a speech to
a JP Morgan investor seminar in Tokyo that was posted on the
central bank's website.
The Reserve Bank's latest economic growth forecasts were for
an average 2.6 percent this year and 3.4 percent next - still
far short of the rate South Africa reckons it needs to cut
unemployment accounting for a quarter of the labour force.
It was not immediately clear whether those growth forecasts,
given in September, were the ones Mminele was referring to.
In another knock for South Africa, Standard and Poor's cut
its credit rating on Friday, citing the strikes and social
tensions. Moody's downgraded South Africa in September.
Reacting to the downgrades, Mminele said they were
disappointing, but some of the criticism was valid.
IMPACT OF WAGES
Financial analysts are not only worried by the turmoil, but
also by the possible impact on inflation of wage rises that some
of the strikers have won - up to 22 percent in the case of
Lonmin Plc miners.
The central bank had yet to see evidence that hefty wage
increases were becoming the norm, but would have to keep a close
eye on them in case they had a spillover in pushing up prices or
expectations of price rises, Mminele said.
Clashes continued over the weekend, nearly two months after
police shot dead 34 strikers at Lonmin's Marikana mine on
Aug.16, the bloodiest security incident in South Africa's
Police broke up a sit-in by nearly 600 miners from a Gold
Fields mine demanding the release of colleagues at a
police station, about 45 km (30 miles) west of Johannesburg.
Seventy-two miners were arrested.
Near Rustenburg, in the "platinum belt" about 120 km (75
miles) northwest of Johannesburg, police fired tear gas and
rubber bullets after a march on an Anglo American Platinum mine
turned violent. Four protesters were arrested.
Miners at Amplats, as the company is known, will continue
their strike on Monday, a labour leader said, even after the
company sacked 12,000 strikers.
Evans Ramokga said the strike committee would meet on Monday
to discuss "how we bring the management closer to us, how we can
engage them." But he told Reuters that workers were not afraid
of more dismissals.
President Zuma's government has been criticised for allowing
the strikes to spread, as well as failure to address yawning
class divisions and grinding poverty that still characterise
South Africa 18 years after the end of apartheid.
Zuma faces a significant threat from members of the ruling
African national Congress who are lobbying for his removal as
head of the party at a scheduled leadership election in
December. He held a "social dialogue meeting" on Friday with
union and business leaders and some cabinet ministers to discuss
But the meeting appeared to deliver little new: Zuma's
office released a statement pushing the need for improved
industrial relations and condemning the violent strikes.
Separately, Mines Minister Susan Shabangu was quoted by
local media on the need for the ANC to drop talk of
nationalisation. Some members of the party have lobbied for
increased state intervention in the industry.