EFF straightens out its mines nationalisation policy

The Economic Freedom Fighters's Floyd Shivambu. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters's Floyd Shivambu. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) announced that it was willing to consider partial nationalisation of mines at the initial phase of its project before completely phasing out private ownership. 

"We are arguing for mixed state and community ownership," said EFF commissar Floyd Shivambu at the Sunrise Park Primary School in Rustenburg on Tuesday afternoon, where the party was holding community meetings, door-to-door campaigns and a social media drive in preparation for its launch rally in Marikana this Sunday. We want to discontinue private ownership but we're willing to look at 60% state owned and 40% private ownership at the initial stage. But private ownership will eventually be phased out." 

Shivambu said that beneficiation and the development of other industries dealing with related core metals would be high on the party's priority list should it become the country's future ruling party.
The EFF's first priority, however, remained land, which Shivambu said was crucial in "reviving a state-led food economy" as the country was currently importing too much food where it could be creating "thousands of jobs" and deepening trade relations with other African countries. 

Shivambu said while the EFF had the highest number of registered members in Mpumalanga (without divulging the numbers), the response of people in the North West made winning the province in next year's election a likelihood. 

Tuesday afternoon's motorcade of about 10 vehicles snaked through the townships of Paardekraal, Moriting and Sunrise Park but drew more enthusiastic support in the bordering informal settlements.

Papiki Babuile, the party's provincial co-ordinator, reiterated Shivambu's words, saying as the party was a unitary structure, the main priority emerging out of its policy conference was the expropriation of land, which did not mean that North West did not have its unique challenges that needed to be tackled urgently. 

Chief among these, Babuile said, was eradicating the exploitation of mineworkers, particularly foreigners and migrants, by mining companies, which he said was the root cause of any tension between local communities and migrant workers. "The concerns that the community was raising about foreigners staying in the mines was that they were not being treated equally, like South Africans," he said at the rally that drew over a thousand people. "What we're saying is that if foreigners are going to be employed, the proper channels must be followed because they are our brothers and their skills are needed. Local people don't get employment because the majority of them know their rights."

Earlier in the week, writer and commentator Andile Mngxitama, who is handling international relations in the organisation, told the Mail & Guardian that the party's line on nationalisation was still up for discussion as there were contesting ideas stemming from a self-awareness of possible complications of state ownership. "You still accept that there is going to be private enterprise contending with state ownership, but you have to reinfence so that there is direct benefit of the community and we don't depend on the state," he said.

"The contestation is that the state can have its own interests that are not the interests of the people. There's an awareness. The best-case scenario is going to be a blend between state ownership and checking accumulation by the political elite that runs the state and devolving ownership to the communities immediately."

Since the emergence of the EFF, there have been a number of publicised clashes with the ANC leading many pundits to believe that the upcoming election could be one marked by underhand tactics as the ANC seeks to ward off threats to its hegemony. Shivambu brushed this off, saying that despite ANC groups disrupting their meetings, be it on campuses or in public halls, these issues would be eclipsed by the time elections came largely by their own inertia, which will hamper the resonance of their [the ANC's] electioneering.

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo

Kwanele Sosibo studied journalism at Durban's ML Sultan Technikon before working at Independent Newspapers from 2000 to 2003. In 2005, he joined the Mail & Guardian's internship programme and later worked as a reporter at the paper between 2006 and 2008, before working as a researcher. He was the inaugural Eugene Saldanha Fellow in 2011. Read more from Kwanele Sosibo

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