/ 26 January 1990

We will nationalise — Mandela

This is a letter from Nelson Mandela confirming the ANC’s commitment to the nationalisation of mines, banks and monopoly industries.

“A change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable,” he says in the letter which he asked the Mass Democratic Movement to distribute widely.

Mandela’s full statement, made on January 15 and released yesterday, said: “The nationalisation of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC, and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable. Black economic empowerment is a goal we fully support and encourage, but in our situation state control of certain sectors of the economy is unavoidable.”

United Democratic Front publicity secretary Patrick “Terror” Lekota said; “Meetings in Lusaka between the ANC and businessmen and rumours that the organisation was calling for a mixed economy sparked off speculation that it was abandoning the position of the Freedom Charier.”

Mandela hoped his statement would put an end to such speculation, Lekota said.

“In the debates surrounding the economic position or the banned movement many newspapers implied that Comrade Mandela was no longer committed to the idea of nationalising certain industrial sectors, thereby conflicting with his comrades abroad.

“It is hoped that this statement will deal a deathblow to those mischievous reports. We need to openly state and restate our position so that people don’t get confused,” said Lekota.

However, Mandela’s statement comes as some surprise.

In recent years, the ANC has met a number of South African businessmen and sought to reassure them that they had little to fear under an ANC government. ANC statements on this issue have been notably vague, in stark contrast to the baldness of Mandela’s sudden assertion.

Mandela’s words reasserted the position of the Freedom Charter, Lekota said. “The charter says monopolies — the commanding heights of capitalism — will be nationalised — but it also says people will be allowed to trade freely”.

Lekota said the essence of Mandela’s statement and the charter was that “when an ANC government takes power it will nationalise industries and sectors monopolised by capital but not the small shop owned by the ordinary man.

“This is a mixed economy in the sense that sectors are nationalised and sectors remain free enterprise.

“Nationalisation of certain industrial sectors would realise the ANC’s aims of redistributing the wealth of the country in order to achieve the upliftment of the exploited,” he said.

Asked what economic system an ANC government would implement, Lekota said: “The ANC has never committed itself to socialism. Nationalising certain sectors does not mean socialism. The future economic system would be of a transitory nature which could, however, lay the foundations for socialism.”

He added that a “transitory phase, referred to that stage between capitalism and socialism and “one could not prophesy what would follow this transitory-mixed economy phase”.

Referring to Mandela’s mention of ‘black economic empowerment”, Lekota said such a concept encouraged black businessmen to penetrate deeper into the world of capital. While this was fully supported it could not take priority above redistributing the wealth in order to uplift the poor.