The African National Congress (ANC) dismissed a call from the party’s youth wing on Thursday to nationalise the country’s mining and manufacturing industries in the wake of the global financial crisis.
The ANC’s secretary general Gwede Mantashe told Reuters nationalising mineral assets was not on the party’s agenda, after its Youth League leader was quoted as pressing for state ownership.
Mantashe, a former mine worker leader who chairs the ANC’s Communist Party ally, said nationalisation was not likely.
”There is no such plan,” Mantashe told Reuters.
President Jacob Zuma has faced pressure from powerful trade union allies to introduce economic policy changes in the midst of a recession and widespread poverty.
The Sowetan newspaper quoted Julius Malema, president of the ANC’s Youth League, as urging Zuma to fast-track implementation of the Freedom Charter agreed in 1955 by the ANC and its allies, comprising South Africans marginalised under apartheid.
The charter calls for equal rights and equal share of wealth with the country’s white population.
Malema was quoted as saying the charter should be implemented even though this would be unpopular in the country.
”At this moment, when imperialist forces are accepting the failure of capitalism, we should ask whether the time has not arrived for the government to make sure that the state owns the mines and other means of production as called for in the freedom charter,” the Sowetan quoted Malema as saying.
South Africa is the world’s top source of platinum and No. 3 gold producer after China and the United States, and the mining sector is subject to intense scrutiny by big foreign groups such as Anglo American, South Africa’s biggest mining player.
Its industrial sector is well developed, making it the biggest economy in Africa.
But the global crisis has rattled South Africa’s economy, and the mining and manufacturing sectors have announced thousands of job cuts, adding to its high unemployment rate and triggering strike warnings by the country’s powerful unions.
”The position of the ANC has not changed. This position was arrived at as part of resolutions agreed at out last congress. The resolutions of congress cannot be changed as we wish,” Mantashe said, referring to resolutions agreed by the party’s decision-making body at its December 2007 national conference.
Mantashe said the set of resolutions agreed then governed the party’s polices.
Mantashe has said the ANC does plan to set up a state mining firm to rival existing mining firms to help create jobs.
In recent months, South Africa’s Communist Party has called for the nationalisation of Sasol, the world’s biggest maker of motor fuel from coal, saying it is a national asset. — Reuters