/ 16 July 2012

SACP drops radical stance in boost for Zuma

Blade Nzimande has said that nationalising mines would only benefit those who own struggling mines.
Blade Nzimande has said that nationalising mines would only benefit those who own struggling mines.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) appears to have softened its call for radical policy changes – it made a U-turn on its previous resolution for wholesale nationalisation of mines and other key sectors of the economy in favour of calls by President Jacob Zuma's administration for state intervention in the economy.

The nationalisation of mines and other key sectors of the economy, which top the list of critical policy proposals by the ANC Youth League and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), is seen as a proxy for the ANC leadership battle in Mangaung in December.  

Those who support Zuma's bid to be re-elected as the ANC's president, including SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, are opposed to the drive towards nationalisation, while those who are pushing for ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Zuma, want radical policy changes including nationalisation of mines.  

While most provinces at the ANC policy conference rejected wholesale nationalisation, they supported strategic nationalisation in some of the profitable economic sectors. The SACP's Nzimande, meanwhile, has said the call for nationalisation is an attempt by struggling Black Economic Empowerment companies, to force the state to bail them out.  

On the other hand, those who are pushing for nationalisation believe it is the only intervention that can fast-track economic transformation in order to create jobs for millions of people in the country.

Windfall tax
Deputy SACP general secretary Jeremy Cronin told journalists on Sunday that the party supported of the ANC's research team, which proposed a 50% "supertax" on mining companies. He said while the party was not abandoning its call for nationalisation entirely, the conference resolved that a windfall tax should be introduced in the mining and petroleum industries, including Sasol. 

"We reaffirm our position on socialisation. Nationalisation is a step towards full socialisation. We are committed to it, but we can't say 'all or nothing'. We continue to believe that Sasol should be re-nationalised but there is no reason why we can't have a windfall tax on it. They are making massive profits," said Cronin. 

He said there was no need to nationalise Arcelor-Mittal for now as the company was in serious financial trouble. The SACP instead supported the government's plan to establish an alternative steel company.

Cronin also acknowledged that the SACP leadership failed to develop a comprehensive report on the relationship between the SACP and state power as mandated by the previous national conference five years ago. 

Among other things, the report was supposed to focus at the possibility of the SACP contesting elections and the reconfiguration of the alliance.  Cronin said the reason why the SACP leadership did not compile the report was that after Zuma's election in Polokwane, the relationship between the party and the ANC improved, with ANC members appointed to government. 

Draft report
The M&G understand delegates to the SACP conference criticised the leadership for failing to draft the report.

Cronin said the conference has mandated the newly elected central committee to work on the report.

Meanwhile ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe topped the list of the newly elected central committee members, followed by Eastern Cape ANC chair Phumulo Masualle. Mantashe and Masualle refused nominations as party chair and national treasurer respectively. 

Other ANC NEC leaders elected to serve in the SACP central committee include Justice Minister and ANC policy head Jeff Radebe. Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, Young Communist League secretary Buti Manamela. Nehawu's general secretary Fikile Majolo and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davis also made it onto the committee. 

The top six includes Nzimande and Cronin who were elected as general secretary and first deputy secretary general respectively. Others elected to the top six include Solly Mapailla (second deputy general secretary), National Union of Mineworkers president Senzeni Zokwane (chairperson), Public Works Minister Thulas Mxesi (deputy chairperson), Joyce Moloi-Moropa (national treasurer).

Tellingly, Limpopo Finance Minister David Masondo who was number one on the list during the previous conference did not make the list of newly-elected central committee members. 

Masondo, who is widely regarded as one of the intellectuals within the alliance, is seen as a close ally of Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale and expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, who have made it clear they want Zuma to be replaced by Motlanthe.