/ 23 May 2012

Phosa: We (still) won’t nationalise

Mathews Phosa has assured international investors that nationalisation of mining and banking industries is not on South Africa's agenda .
Mathews Phosa has assured international investors that nationalisation of mining and banking industries is not on South Africa's agenda .

“I wish to make it clear … that nationalisation is not [the] policy of the ANC, nor do we plan a shift in that direction,” Phosa said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Progressive Business Forum (PBF) in London.

“The debate around nationalisation, foreign direct investment and the improvement of our infrastructure has gone a long way towards our deeper understanding that we need to ensure that there is no doubt in investors’ minds regarding the economic direction in which we want to take the country,” he said.

Phosa said the debate about the extent of the state’s intervention in the minerals sector was not a new one and had been debated within the ANC for almost 60 years.

This was not Phosa’s first attempt to reassure international investors that the ANC did not intend nationalising South African mines.

Not government policy
In October, he told the same forum that while nationalisation of the mines remained an issue which drew a lot of attention, it was still not government policy.

In November, Phosa told European ambassadors and high commissioners that although there was “robust debate” over nationalisation, the ANC did not anticipate major changes to its economic policy.

This, despite a push for nationalisation by the then ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

The youth league is still calling for nationalisation, even without Malema at its helm.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has also proposed, in its policy discussion documents, that all South Africa’s key economic sectors, including mining and banking, be nationalised.

Numsa is a member of the Congress of South African Trade Unions – an ally of the ANC – which has itself defended nationalisation.

Negotiated outcomes
The ANC commissioned a report on nationalisation which it received in January.

On Tuesday, Phosa told the PBF that the ANC would debate the report at its national policy conference in June and would make recommendations on it at its elective conference in December.

“In my view, the middle always holds in the ANC and the outcome, as I have said before here in London, is largely predictable,” said Phosa.

“We will attempt to find this middle ground in negotiated outcomes that will benefit global mining interests but also create substantial local opportunities and benefit.”

Phosa said South Africa remained a favoured destination for British companies which wanted to bring their expertise to Africa.

“The initiatives which our president [Jacob Zuma] announced recently to roll out a number of substantial infrastructure projects presents such an opportunity,” Phosa told the PBF.

“You have proved repeatedly that you have that expertise in your private sector institutions.” – Sapa