Stand firm as business fights back

2011-07-02 09:46

While the outcomes of the ANC Youth League’s 24th congress have been subject to much public debate, there is no doubt that its economic resolutions are transformative.

The resolutions strike a decisive blow at the economic power and ­interests of white business as well as the emerging black elites.

The demand for expropriation without compensation has not only provided a solution to the problem of the willing seller-willing buyer ­model, but has also ably and amply shown that the league’s call for ­nationalisation is not aimed at ­bailing out ailing black economic ­empowerment (BEE) firms such as Aurora.

The 17 years of our political independence show a positive correlation between the democratic state control of economic resources and the ability to improve the conditions of the poor.

In Limpopo, for instance, through ­Eskom the state has electrified more than 80% of poor households.

The opposite happened in the agriculture and mining sectors due to poor utilisation of the economic resources in the hands of private owners.State control and ownership are necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for changing the living conditions of the poor.

This requires the democratic election and accountability of those ­bestowed with the responsibility of managing nationalised companies.

This, in turn, will extend democracy to the economy where unelected ­economic elites take decisions that have far-reaching implications on the lives of the poor.

Nationalised mines and other economic assets will enable the state not only to generate revenue to fund the needs of the poor, such as free education, but will also enable the state to industrialise the economy, thus ­creating jobs and reduce our dependency on the international markets.

Nationalisation of the mines will also empower the state to add more value to minerals.

Platinum is currently extracted from poverty-stricken Sekhukhune and exported to China for further processing and then re-imported as goods for consumption by the post-apartheid elite.

Almost all sections of big business will join hands with mine and landowners to fight in different ways against nationalisation without ­compensation. Compared with the poor, by mere real ownership of the economic ­resources, business is better placed to mount a serious fight for its ­economic freedom as guaranteed in the private property ownership ­codified in the Constitution.

First, private ownership of the economic resources enables business to threaten the state with ­investment strikes.

Because the state itself depends on business to generate revenue through taxation and job creation, the state elites are more susceptible to manipulation by business.Second, in the name of BEE, ­established white business is more likely to give shares and bribes to the state elites and leaders in the ANC-led alliance so as to lure them to stand against nationalisation.

Consequently, business’s fight against ­nationalisation will also find expression in the ANC and the alliance, since some leaders of the ANC are ­aspirant and actual mine- and land- owners.

The league leadership is likely to be fought in different ways. This will ­include attempts to discipline the league leadership. In substituting debates for ­bureaucratic ­discipline, they hope to silence advocates of nationalisation.

Towards the 2012 ANC elective congress, business will also support members and leaders of the ANC to fight against the league’s economic resolutions on nationalisation.

This failed strategy was used at the ANC national general council to try to ­remove the nationalisation of mines from the ANC agenda. Like the league, business will also seek to influence the leadership outcomes of the ANC congress in order to secure its economic interests.

The league should continue to ­fearlessly debate the real transformative questions facing the South African poor. Critical discussions are part of the culture of our movement and ­are essential for its survival.

This should not change because of the personalities of our time.

» David Masondo is spokesperson for the ANC in Limpopo. He writes in his personal capacity 

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