Mbalula: Time to talk about nationalisation

Fikile Mbalula (left) in a file photograph. The NEC member said this weekend the fight for economic freedom would be "defining" for the strategic future of the party. (David Harrison, M&G)

Fikile Mbalula (left) in a file photograph. The NEC member said this weekend the fight for economic freedom would be "defining" for the strategic future of the party. (David Harrison, M&G)

ANC members are afraid to talk about the nationalisation of mines, national executive committee (NEC) member Fikile Mbalula said on Saturday.

”... when the youth league says nationalisation [of mines], economic freedom, some among us are afraid to utter those words. It is like a banned term in the dictionary,” he said.

He was speaking at the Peter Mokaba memorial lecture at Ga-Molepo outside Polokwane in Limpopo.

He described Mokaba as an uncompromising leader, who was not easily driven by bitterness against his opponents.
He also said Mokoba had been a controversial leader, and one who championed the struggle against apartheid.

He said the fight for economic freedom would be “defining” for the strategic future of the party.

” ... you can never say our people are liberated up until their economic freedom”, he said.

He told party members that they would fail the ANC if they did not raise the issue in this week’s policy conference.

“We must never retreat. Policy conference is about ideas, not about singing about individuals.”

He said that nationalisation of mines had proved to be working in Botswana.

Ahead of the conference, the party’s provincial structures have come out in support of various forms of nationalisation.

Earlier this month, several ANC provinces concluded that although wholesale nationalisation was not the best option, they believed that a more aggressive approach was needed to transform the economy. The ANC Youth League has led the campaign for nationalisation.

The ANC in Gauteng, the Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape have said they did not have any problems with nationalisation, but were opposed to its crude implementation.

The ANC’s research team into state intervention in the minerals sector has proposed a 50% super-tax on all profits from mining companies and a reduction of royalties from 4% to 1%.

Some party members argue the research team ignored the terms of reference of its investigation, which clearly stated that it should probe different models of nationalisation, rather than finding reasons not to implement the radical policy.

The issue is likely to dominate debates as the ANC formulates policy for the party’s national conference in Mangaung in December.

Radical approach
Limpopo has reiterated its support for an even more radical approach to economic transformation—that mines should be nationalised without compensation.

Chairperson Cassel Mathale, an ally of former youth league leader Julius Malema, said his province would not support an ANC leadership that did not support their policy positions.

“We are convinced that the struggle for economic emancipation will require a revolutionary ANC prepared to confront white monopoly capital and its compradorial allies amongst the historically oppressed. We will therefore approach the election of [the] leadership collective based on its revolutionary commitment to lead our people towards economic emancipation, for we are convinced that there is no revolution without revolutionary organisation and leadership,” the province stated in a statement.

Limpopo has been the most vocal opponent of the current ANC leadership and will support Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as its preferred presidential candidate in December.

President Jacob Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal resolved that it would support the nationalisation of mines only if other strategic sectors, such as banks, were nationalised. KwaZulu-Natal is the ANC’s largest province and will contribute about 25% of the total number of voting delegates at Mangaung.

No conclusive evidence
ANC Mpumalanga provincial secretary Lucky Ndinisa has said that the state must identify some mines to be nationalised. There was no conclusive evidence to suggest that it will be more beneficial to take control of all mines, he said.

“The ANC in its national general congress resolved to undertake a study into wholesale nationalisation of mines. It [the report], in our view, did not show clear ways or means to convince us to nationalise completely,” said Ndinisa.

ANC chairperson in the North West, Supra Mahumapelo has said the “sentiment” was that the state needed to have a bigger stake in the mining sector, but that wholesale nationalisation was too risky.

Mahumapelo said the province  was instead likely to propose that the state should have between 30% and 45% ownership of strategic mineral resources.

Demand for production
“The state must have a hold on the strategic mineral resource like platinum, manganese and coal, which in the long term will be extremely useful. It must be driven by the demand for production,” Mahumapelo said.

“Certain mines must be under the control of government. It must play a role in identifying a few which must be taken over. But it should be a gradual process and should not be done overnight.”

Gauteng provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile said they would not support wholesale nationalisation.

Mashatile said the province supported the establishment of a state mining house, and added that the state should intervene in all important minerals.

The Western Cape rejected nationalisation but said the state should play a bigger role in the economy.

ANC provincial chairperson Marius Fransman has said the province would propose the Land Act of 1913 be amended to allow for some communities, such as the indigenous Khoisan who were dispossesed of their land before 1913, be given an opportunity to reclaim the land that had been stolen from them.

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