ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu commenting on the Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu's rejection of the nationalisation of mines proposal.
Calls for the nationalisation of South African mines
The African National Congress (ANC) Youth Leagues’ call for the nationalisation of South African mines has ignited diversified debate locally and internationally.
ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu tells Mining Weekly that the ANC Youth Leagues’ call for the nationalisation of mines is within the context of the ANC's constitutional strategic goal. “The ANC's constitution commits all members to abide by the objectives of the Freedom Charter.”
He explains that the Freedom Charter states that unequivocally the mineral wealth beneath the soil that belongs to monopoly industries and banks shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.
“The people as a whole is vividly distinguishable from State rentals of mineral wealth to big corporations who brutally exploit labour and unsustainably exploit mineral wealth to make big profits.
“The Freedom Charter is a the clearest expression of what the ANC and alliance partners seek to achieve in South Africa and any person who is against the Charter is against the aims of the ANC and the revolutionary alliance,” Shivambu comments.
The ANC Youth League believes that this is even more relevant with the economic downturn. “We do not want the production extraction and trade of mineral wealth in the country to be profit driven. The profit motive, in particularly with regard to mining in the country, has not been helpful with the development of the South African economy.
“Companies have been extracting mineral wealth from the country's soil without developing the communities where these minerals are being extracted. These same companies have also not significantly contributed to the industrialisation, beneficiation, and the diversification of the economy.”
Shivambu says that the country has been reliant on the production of mineral resources from mining for a very long time, and adds that it is not durable.
“South Africa now needs to be competitive in other areas of the industry such as beneficiation. Most South Africans do not even know what the platinum is used for, yet 70% of platinum reserves are located in South Africa. The country needs to start beneficiating its resources,” he says.
The ANC Youth League believes that only when the State is in control of mineral production an opportunity will be created for the development of the country’s mineral industry.
“The State will not employ people just because we want to make more money, and then cut labour when it suits us, with thousand of people losing their jobs and their lives because working conditions are not safe.
“When the State is directly involved in the mining of these minerals, it is going to be more conducive to the people, developing communities and societies,” says Shivambu.
However, South African Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu told Reuters that the country would not nationalise mines despite calls from the ruling party's allies.
She confirmed that the ANC's youth wing, as well as trade union federation Cosatu, have asked the government to take control of mines. "We are definitely not going to nationalise mines," Shabangu reassured.
"The ongoing debate will not change the government's policy at all. It must be a concern for investors, but I want to assure them that as government we are not going to go on that route. The South Africa they knew yesterday is the same today and nothing will change. It is a non-issue," she said.
To that, Shivambu says that the Minister is not representing the views of the ANC. “We met with the ANC and as far as we are concerned, the policy of the ANC is the Freedom Charter which was reaffirmed in the recent congress of the ANC.
“The Minister is not speaking on behalf of the ANC, she is speaking on behalf of government. Even though the government is constantly mandated by the ANC, at times there are those who miss the proper understanding and grasp of what the ANC is saying on certain issues.
“The Charter speaks to the nationalisation of mines, and possibly at government-level that has not been given practical meaning, however, within the ANC policy that is a reality. We are sure that the ANC will be guiding government on how to move forward on this particular issue.”
He says that investor confidence will not be harmed by the nationalisation of the country’s mines. “We are going to open up investment opportunities in other areas such as the beneficiation of minerals, where we do not have the capacity. However, in terms of control ownership of mines we need the state to be in control of the mines.”
Shivambu explains that the nationalisation proposal is not going to be a “big-bang” introduction, but a gradual introduction of State ownership. “Partnerships will be formed between the State and big corporations,” he says.
Ultimately, Shivambu states that the ANC is for nationalisation of mines in the country, and that it will happen.