‘Nationalisation is a given’

2011-08-04 13:17

Nationalisation is going to happen; it is just the manner in which it will be implemented that needs to be decided, labour federation Cosatu said today.

“If you say business needs certainty to make investments... this is the certainty you need to have, that what is being discussed now is models,” Cosatu economist Chris Malekane said at a debate on nationalisation in Joburg.

He said the task team established by the African National Congress to examine nationalisation was not looking at the feasibility of the policy, but was exploring the most appropriate model to implement.

Last year, the ANC’s national general council directed its national executive committee to form a task team to explore the viability of nationalisation and the state playing a greater role in key sectors of the economy.

Its report was expected to be produced by the end of the year.

Malekane said Cosatu had encouraged the ANC Youth League to place nationalisation firmly on the agenda.

All the parties represented at the last ANC national executive committee meeting had supported nationalisation and if the task team produced a study that looked at only the feasibility of nationalisation, it would be rejected outright, he said.

He said compensation would be paid, but not for land.

“We’ll have to compensate in the interests of the public, but not in a way that will cripple the South African state... there has to be a balance.”

He said land was a natural asset that should be owned by the state and used by farmers, and that no compensation should be given for land.

Free Market Foundation head Leon Louw argued that compensation would divert state money from socioeconomic development.

“Every cent of compensation is a cent of compensation at the expense of a poor person,” he said.

Mine owners would love to be paid compensation as they would never be able to sell their mines for the same price.

“If you put all your shares for offer, the price would tumble, but in nationalisation, you sell at a market price.”

Malekane admitted that nationalisation would not reduce unemployment.

“Nationalisation does not create jobs ... but it changes power relations to put the country on the path to create jobs.”

He said the role of the state should be boosted to address historical imbalances and to allow the state to play a leading role in providing services.

Cosatu was going back to its 1992 policy conference resolutions which called for the nationalisation of the forestry industry and the establishment of a state-owned pharmaceutical company, a state-owned bank and a state-owned construction company to build public infrastructure.

The South African economy was still predominantly controlled by whites, in what Malekane described as a “colonial situation”.

“My theory is that there’s been negotiation in bad faith from a large section of the white population in South Africa, but particularly white business.”

He said big companies had listed abroad and increased their foreign ownership to prevent sharing their wealth with blacks.

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