Numsa: Nationalise mines, banks

Johannesburg - All key economic sectors in South Africa - including mining and banking - should be nationalised, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has proposed in a policy discussion document.

"Mining, banks, telecommunications, transport, food and so on, especially industries and sectors that are very monopolised, must be nationalised as a precondition for resolving the property question in South Africa," Numsa said in a paper on nationalisation.

"BEE (black economic empowerment) is not capable of resolving the property questions, the ownership question, the power question in the South African economy and society."

Numsa said it was impossible to defend the argument that South Africa would suffer an economic boycott if it nationalised its mines.

"The truth is the world needs our minerals and they will seek to trade with us, however we redefine the ownership and control question," it said.

Numsa has also called for the nationalisation of the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb).

In its policy discussion document on monetary and financial policy, Numsa said it was disappointed in the way Sarb had been managed since 1994.

"The Reserve Bank has failed in pursuing balanced and economic development and growth in its pursuit of price stability.

"The central bank has... failed to control inflation within its targeted band, and has in the process contributed significantly in generating the current recession."

Numsa said Sarb had not demonstrated transparency and accountability in its operation, and that the composition of the monetary policy committee remained impervious to democratic processes.

The monetary policy statements of the bank's governor were "grossly inadequate", it said.

"They do not reflect the views that were expressed by individuals in the monetary policy committee. Our view is that the Reserve Bank is held hostage by a particular economic interest."

Numsa was also unhappy with the high interest rates and the strong exchange rate.

"The persistently strong exchange rate and high interest rate leads to a collapse in domestic demand and harms domestic productive capacity.

"Our view is that the persistent deficit will make it difficult for the planned infrastructure spending to lift the economy as fast as possible out of the recession," it said.

The way Sarb tried to pursue price stability had made it incompetent to resolve existing macroeconomic imbalances, said Numsa.

It said the struggle for nationalisation was a class struggle around redistribution, decent employment, eradication of poverty, growth and development.

"Only by placing the commanding heights of the economy in the hands of all the people of South Africa through nationalisation of the mines, banks, telecommunications, petrochemicals, water, food... can a truly democratic and free South Africa come into life," Numsa said.

The trade union said the demand for nationalisation, as contained in the Freedom Charter, was not just another way of managing strategic economic actors. 

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