Mandela, Nationalization And Malema

2014-01-27 12:11

Pic: Google.com/www.timeslive.co.za

[I wrote the following article for my personal blog on the 16th of November 2013, about two weeks before the passing of Mr Nelson Mandela, but I never posted it. It was compiled from a collective of Articles posted in the Media on the Nationalization subject…]

According to a Citigroup report, South Africa’s mineral deposits, worth an estimated $2.5 trillion (excluding energy minerals), are the richest in the world. These minerals have to a large extent in the past been exploited by prodigious countries like France, USA and the UK.

A few years before being sentenced to life imprisonment, of which he served 27 years, Mandela wrote in an article in June 1956, “It is true that in demanding the nationalization of the banks, the gold mines and the land the (Charter) strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold mining monopolies and farming interests that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude.”

Mandela reiterated his views on Nationalization only a few weeks before his release in February 1990 when he said, “The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC, and the change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable.”

But Mandela is alleged to have made a controversial philosophical shift when he attended a World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland in early 1992. Mandela claims it is here where more than 2000 industrial leaders showed a terrifying hostility toward mine nationalization.

Former Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni is quoted on a Moneyweb article as saying : “That’s why, when we went to the Nasrec conference in 1992, the issue of nationalization was debated for over eight hours, at the conclusion of which the final document entitled ‘Ready To Govern’ did not have the word nationalization in it.”

Former premier of the Northern Cape and current Deputy Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Manne Dipico said on the issue, “I was in a congress of the NUM at the time and we were singing songs of Nationalisation and Mandela stood up there and put his reasons why he was not for mine Nationalisation and we all kept quiet, but when he left, we sang the nationalisation songs again.”

After the ANC won the historical elections of 1994, Mandela is alleged to have said, “In our economic policies, there is not a single reference to things like nationalization, and this is not accidental: There is not a single slogan that will connect us with any Marxist ideology.”

Current ANC Deputy President and key negotiator during CODESA Cyril Ramaphosa adds in support: “You can’t just go and ‘smash and grab’ the mines. You have to pay compensation, and the compensation alone for the mines would be close to R2 Trillion. That’s a lot of money.”

But Julius Malema gives a scathing allegory when he says, “It’s like when a person steals my car, I report it to the police, they find the car in Soweto with new mag wheels and leather seats and it’s now looking very nice. I say, but this is my car, they say, yes, this is your car but this man has put a lot of investment in the car and you must now pay him back before you get this car. That’s incorrect.”

In this stance, the ANC’s key alliance partner Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) was in support of Julius Malema’s assertion, wherein Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi said in 2011, “Nationalization can bolster our economy and it will always ensure development,” and added again, “This is why nationalizing our mines will bring money to our people, and not just benefit and profit people in the private sector.”

But the ruling party itself refutes these developments vehemently. ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza pressed thus: “It is misleading to say the ANC has agreed to Nationalization of the mines…” He was backed in this by current South African and ANC president Jacob Zuma, who in February 2012 plainly said, “Nationalization is not our policy. It’s as clear as that…”

Capitalism protagonists quite predictably concur with the ANC leadership on the matter. BLSA’s Michael Spicer and Bobby Godsell have respectively objected to nationalization as such: “We think it’s a bad idea and there are better ways to solve our problems,” and, “There are better ways to create jobs and alleviate poverty than by having government take over the mines.”

I

n response to Malema’s implication, the World Bank’s Marcelo Giugale wasn’t emotional: “The big lesson of the 90’s is that ownership is less important than accountability… What you need to be sure of is that at the end of the day the company, public or private, is held accountable.”

As much as we have a prime example of (mine) nationalization failure in Zambia, we have a contrasting one of successful nationalization in Norway, so who’s to say?

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