/ 10 May 2012

ANC youth in KZN expected to back nationalisation

KwaZulu-Natal ANC structures are reportedly supportive of calls for the nationalisation of South Africa's mines
KwaZulu-Natal ANC structures are reportedly supportive of calls for the nationalisation of South Africa's mines

Delegates at the ANC’s provincial conference in KwaZulu-Natal are expected to throw their weight behind the youth league’s call for nationalisation of the mines and other strategic sectors of the economy.

The Mail & Guardian understands that entire ANC regions in KwaZulu-Natal are in favour of the nationalisation policy and fully support the recent research report on state intervention in the minerals sector.

If a resolution to support nationalisation is taken at the end of the conference this Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal will become the second ANC province after Limpopo to support the controversial policy proposal.

“We are free politically, but for some reason the means of production remains in the hands of a few capitalists,” said a provincial leader, who was not authorised to comment officially. “It cannot be business as usual. We have our differences with the youth league, but nationalisation is welcome and supported here in KwaZulu-Natal simply because everybody agrees that it will lead to more jobs, eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities in South Africa,” said the source.

The call for nationalisation has caused a fierce debate in the party ahead of its policy conference in June at Gallagher Estate in Midrand. Some have raised concerns that it may lead to disinvestment and a flight of capital.

The report into the nationalisation of mines has been presented to the ANC’s national executive committee for discussion, but a final decision on the issue is to be taken at the party’s upcoming policy conference.

It proposes, among other things, a reduction in the royalty tax and a 50% tax on “super-profits”.

Addressing ANC members at last month’s Freedom Day celebrations, Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale once again endorsed calls for nationalisation.

The province took a resolution to support nationalisation in December last year, but many pro-Jacob Zuma voices in the ANC and its alliance partners interpreted this as a campaign tool to undermine the president, given his strained relationship with the youth league and its expelled president Julius Malema.

Malema and the league want Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma at the party’s conference in Mangaung in the Free State in December.

Supporting nationalisation
A provincial leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the M&G this week that, despite their differences with the league, KwaZulu-Natal structures supported nationalisation and would lobby for a resolution on the matter. 

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala told the M&G this week that nationalisation was one of the key policy proposals to be discussed at the conference in Newcastle.

He added, however, that it had to be left to provincial delegates to decide. “We support the report as presented by the research team because it creates the basis for further discussion on the [mine nationalisation] policy,” Zikalala said.

“We are of a view that the research on the issue should not be limited to mineral resources, but it must include other [strategic] sectors, in particular the financial sector. But it’s a matter for the provincial conference to endorse it or decide otherwise.”

Meanwhile, Zikalala declined to comment on the leadership contest at the conference, but the M&G understands that the majority of ANC regions have reached an agreement to retain the current leadership.

The province
It effectively paves the way for Zweli Mkhize and his top leadership to be re-elected at the provincial conference.

Among those to be retained in the top structure is controversial provincial treasurer Peggy Nkonyeni.

Nkonyeni, who is also the speaker, economic development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and businessman Gaston Savoi are facing charges of corruption, money laundering, fraud and racketeering arising from allegations that they defrauded the provincial health department by inflating the prices of water purification equipment that was supplied by Savoi’s company.

Mkhize told a press briefing this week that he would not suspend Nkonyeni, despite the serious charges she faces.

The decision to retain the provincial leadership strengthens Zuma’s hand in Mangaung, because the province intends to send a delegation united behind Zuma.

According to figures released on Tuesday, the ANC has 252 637 members in KwaZulu-Natal.

Despite a moratorium on the succession debate, the provincial leadership in KwaZulu-Natal reiterated its support for the re-election of Zuma as ANC president.