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Northern Cape ANC backs land reform, nixes mine grab

Michelle Pietersen

The ANC in the Northern Cape has given its blessing to more aggressive land reform, but drawn the line at the wholesale nationalisation of mines.

The ANC in the Northern Cape has called for a more aggressive land reform policy. (M&G)

The ANC Northern Cape provincial conference has given the thumbs up to the green paper on land reform that proposes that the willing-seller-willing-buyer policy be replaced by the establishment of a land valuer who will determine fair prices.

But the conference has rejected the wholesale nationalisation of mines.

Instead, the ANC’s smallest province has backed the research document commissioned by the ANC to investigate nationalistion in other countries. The conference resolved to support the proposed resource rent—a tax on exceptional profits – of between 50% and 70% and for greater state intervention.

The ANC Youth League – which has been championing the call for the nationalisation of mines and other strategic economic sectors and land expropriation without compensation – has rubbished the report, saying the team failed in its mission to investigate different models by instead looking at reasons why the radical policy should not be implemented at home.

Aimed at speeding up land reform the green paper also suggests that a land management commission be established to advise and assist the minister of rural development and that a land rights management board be set up.

In a bid to facilitate development in rural areas, the province resolved that renewed emphasis must be given to rural infrastructure, which should receive additional resources.

The province suggested that an audit be conducted on foreign-owned land and that a moratorium be placed on any new acquisition “unless such acquisition is for productive purposes”.

The Northern Cape also wants the ANC to evaluate the role played by the Land Bank, and recommended it become active by resourcing the project, it was announced on Sunday during the closing session of the four-day conference, which kicked off on Thursday with an address by President Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the more than 500 delegates, Zuma said the debate on the mining sector had focused on nationalisation, which was limiting.

“We must in earnest take one position, not many [at the policy conference],” urged Zuma.

The elective conference in Mangaung in December will usher in a second transition, said Zuma. This will focus on economic and social transformation and must be focused on the people, he said.

The conference, which takes place in Mangaung – where Zuma may face a challenge from party and state deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe – “must take our country forward to true economic and social transformation ... to a future of prosperity”, said Zuma.

Zuma, who is campaigning for reelection in Mangaung, received a lukewarm welcome from delegates. 

The province is divided over whether to support him for a second term. While controversial Northern Cape ANC chair John Block  – who was re-elected to the powerful position on Friday – is said to be supporting the call for a change of leadership, provincial secretary Zamani Saul, who also retained his position at the weekend, will support Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, say party insiders. 

Block kicked dust into the eyes of his long-time political rival Godfrey Oliphant,  the deputy minister of mineral resources, by winning the position by a huge margin: 496 to 32 votes. Saul’s challenger, Archie Lucas, also took a hard beating. He only managed to garner 28 votes to Saul’s 500. The remaining top five positions were retained by the former members, who were all re-elected unopposed.

It was a tough weekend for the provincial ANC Youth League led by Shadrac Tlhoale, who failed to convince the conference to back their radical policy proposals and to pass a motion of support for expelled youth league president Julius Malema’s bid to have his sanction overturned by the ANC’s national executive committee.

The NEC will on Monday hold a special meeting during which Malema’s political future will be debated. But if an indirect swipe at Malema by Zuma on Friday is anything to go by, it appears the president will do everything in his power to ensure that the fiery youth leader does not make a political comeback. 

On Friday, in a veiled reference to Malema and in a warning to dissenters in the party, Zuma said that the ancestors blessed those in the ANC but turned their backs on them once they left the party.

“When you are out they [ancestors] turn their back on you. You will never succeed,” said Zuma.

Block, who shied away from mentioning anything about the national succession during the conference, faces charges of fraud and corruption relating to the alleged fraudulent purchase by Northern Cape government department of water purification equipment estimated at R112-million in 2005 and 2006.

He received a warm welcome from the hundreds of supporters when he led the newly elected provincial executive committee to a rally at the Robert Gunda Stadium in his hometown, Paballelo, on Sunday afternoon.

The supporters were entertained by DJs from sushi king Kenny Kunene’s ZAR stable. Kunene and business partner Gayton Mckenzie’s company was in charge of the conference, which was remarkably peaceful in comparison to the violent elective conference in 2008.

Block said the weekend’s conference, which took place in icy Upington, should serve as the standard which to measure future political gatherings. 

“This was a good conference, where good decision were made. The best conference ever,” said Block, who left for Johannesburg immediately after the rally to attend Monday’s special NEC meeting, where Malema’s fate will be decided on.

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