State aware of nationalisation debate’s harm, says Gigaba

2011-08-01 10:48

The government is aware of the harm the debate on nationalisation is doing to South Africa’s image, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba has said.

“We who run the country know the harm this reckless debate is doing to the good image and investments of the country,” Gigaba told an American Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Joburg.

He said the concerns raised by those calling for the nationalisation of the country’s assets were legitimate, but a solution was needed to unite the country not further divide it.

“Ultimately it’s the ANC and not those who stand on public platforms in front of mikes who take the decision,” he said.

The task team established by the ANC to investigate nationalisation would probably deliver its report by the end of the year, he said.

The ANC would then discuss it and take a decision that was in the best interest of the mining sector as the industry still had a lot to offer the economy.

Less than 30% of land had been redistributed in 17 years of democracy, said Gigaba.

Government was now considering constitutional measures to achieve radical and speedy land reform.

These measures would not threaten the Constitution or the country’s image, he said.

They would also not involve “unguided expropriation without compensation”.

At the recent Cabinet lekgotla, a note was passed around, which read: “Misappropriate land without comprehension”, he joked.

His comments came amid a debate about nationalising the country’s mines and banks, sparked by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.

In June, Malema repeated calls for South Africa’s wealth to be transferred to the people through mine and bank nationalisation, and through expropriating land without compensation.

Gigaba said achieving equality and moving away from racism in South Africa required leadership.

“Our people fought not to replace white supremacy with black supremacy ... but with a non-racial society,” he said.

He said the ANC had been discussing those “seen to incite racial intolerance in public”.

This was “quite easy with politicians trying to be popular” who used “race-mongering without regard to government trying to create a non-racial society”.

“South Africa has come too far from the time of racial inequality for us to allow anyone to take us back to that moment whether wittingly or unwittingly ...”

He said it was necessary to act quickly to quell the racism.

“Populism is easy, but populism is also cheap.”

Both those who make racial statements to show militancy and those who resist black economic empowerment measurements, needed to be managed, he said. 

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