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ANC must nationalise mines - Malema

2009-10-23 08:03

Johannesburg - Nationalisation of mines was prescribed in the Freedom Charter and therefore a prerequisite for leadership in the ANC, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said on Thursday.

"If you are not for nationalisation you are not qualified to lead the ANC," Malema said at an ANCYL-sponsored debate with Business Day columnist Tim Cohen and Old Mutual CEO Kuseni Dlamini.

Malema said part of the oath all ANC members took when they joined the party, was to vow to uphold the Freedom Charter - which proclaimed that the mineral wealth of South Africa belonged to its people.

"If you have a problem with that please do not avail yourself of leadership in the ANC," said Malema.

Public good

However, Dlamini argued that while the Freedom Charter said the minerals belonged to the people of South Africa, "it doesn't necessarily say how it should be done".

There were several different ways that the mineral wealth could be used for the public good, with nationalisation being only one of them, said Dlamini.

Malema nodded along during Dlamini's comments. When he opened the debate, he said the ANCYL was not "scared of debate".

"We are not scared of debate even on complex matters we do not understand. That is what it means to be an activist," said Malema.

He said that this approach brought him into debate with experts which then improved his understanding of issues.

"In arguing they bring a lot of facts and you say "is that how it works?"

BEE 'a sham'

Malema first raised the issue of the nationalisation of mines at the Black Management Forum on October 9. He has argued that ANC leaders such as Nelson Mandela fought for the Freedom Charter as part of the struggle against apartheid.

"They fought for political freedom but they also fought for economic and social freedom," said Malema.

"You can vote yourself pink but if you don't have economic and social power then it doesn't matter."

Black Economic Empowerment was also a sham, according to Malema, since BEE deals were financed by banks "owned by white males".

"We are free to buy shares, with what?" asked Malema. "We are still controlled by white male owned capital."

"That's not racist," he quickly added.

Malema argued that mining companies did little for the communities where they extracted minerals from. Nationalisation would mean that mining profits could be ploughed back into those communities.

Unrest, protests

Governments would be more sensitive to communities rather than companies and companies he said.

"Every time I speak, I [have to] worry about what the markets are saying but the markets don't vote," said Malema.

He raised the unrest and protests in Sakhile township as example of government's responsiveness. The ANC intervened because "[National Executive Committee member Fikile Mbalula] said: 'these people are going to overthrow the government".

Sakhile has been in unrest since at least June.

Malema also argued that Eskom's compounding tariff hikes could be solved by nationalisation of coal mines which would then sell coal cheaply.

Cohen replied that Eskom itself was proof that state-owned enterprises were not effective.