President Jacob Zuma, his ministers, union leaders, mining company Lonmin and the police all failed South Africa during the Marikana killings, anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele said.
Also, once these leaders tried to intervene, their actions were destructive.
SABC radio news quoted her as saying the Marikana shooting, which left 34 miners dead last week, was a clear example of a monumental leadership failure in South Africa.
"The unions, Lonmin, the police, minister of mineral resources, minister of labour and of course the president, all were missing in action and when they did come to act, it was destructive," Ramphele said at a function in Cape Town on Thursday evening.
Ramphele, who resigned as a board member from mining group Anglo American earlier this year, said there was no guarantee that a similar incident would not occur elsewhere in the country.