Nationalisation is not an option for the mining sector, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Monday.
“The minister [Susan Shabangu] was pretty forthright in saying that there will be nationalisation over her dead body. Now you couldn’t ask for a clearer statement than that,” he told the Investing in Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town.
“The mining sector is so fundamentally important as a platform to construct the [upliftment] transition that we can’t be able to take this idea of nationalisation forward.”
Manuel said the industry deserved policy certainty.
“If some doomsayer comes along and generates another lie [about nationalisation], don’t believe them.”
Government would rather look to partnerships with the private sector to uplift the sector through education, improved working conditions and more rights, he said.
Manuel told the indaba that lowered mining output in South Africa could be turned around through investment and employment.
“To reverse this trend [of lower mining output], we have to plan to boost investment and employment in mining by taking account of five key critical issues,” he said.
These were policy and regulation, appropriate taxes, boosted infrastructure, government-corporate partnerships and lowered carbon emissions.
“We have to look again to the mineral sector to be a major part of the plan to generate the resources to build the capability,” he said.
“We need to re-establish South Africa as the centre of excellence in mining technology.”
Rebuilding the economy
Manuel said the mining sector would play a big part in rebuilding the economy after the recession.
“The view of the [National Planning] Commission is to ask the question repeatedly how we can eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.”
He said the sector needed to shed the image that it was uncaring and instead focus on the rights of workers.
The sector had an obligation to uplift the communities in which it mined, through schools, churches and other educational programs.
Companies would see a huge return on this investment with a selection of skilled workers to choose from and a happy workforce, he said. — Sapa