JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The mine nationalisation debate had been finally “laid to rest” and was unlikely to surface again for a long time, said struggle veteran Andrew Mlangeni on Monday.
Mlangeni, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trials and spent 26 years on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, told Mining Weekly Online that he had argued forcefully against mine nationalisation at last week’s African National Congress National Policy Conference (ANC).
“I haven’t seen anywhere in the whole world where nationalisation has made a success of major industries such as mining,” said Mlangeni, who added by phone from Soweto that nationalisation was no longer in the ANC's dictionary.
“It might arise again after 10 to 15 years, but for the moment it has been laid to rest,” said the man who, on the ANC’s 80th anniversary, was awarded the Isithwalandwe medal, the organisation's highest honour.
Risk and opportunity consultancy Africapractice concurred, saying in a note on the culmination of last week’s policy conference that “wholesale nationalisation is off the table” and that a radical overhaul of the South African mining sector was unlikely.
“At this point we believe consensus is likely to fall behind a focus on job creation and the increased beneficiation of minerals in South Africa rather than an aggressive overhaul of mining taxes,” Africapractice added.
Television coverage of President Jacob Zuma’s culmination speech captured an expression of obvious satisfaction on the face of Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, who earlier this year declared that nationalisation would not happen in her lifetime.
Mlangeni made the point to Mining Weekly Online that nationalistion had destroyed the economies of countries like the Soviet Union.
“The question I asked everyone was where are those countries today? They have all died off. China has introduced a little bit of capitalism and I think that is the reason why today we see China being a huge country.
“Our country is still very young democratically and we need to strengthen what we have… but the sooner we embark on job creation the better,” Mlangeni added.
President Zuma said in his closing speech that mining should have a developmental impact and promote job creation.
“The State should also capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation.
“More importantly, we agreed that mining should create safe and decent work, and mineral extraction should not compromise local communities or the environment," the President said.
Conference agreed that State intervention with a focus on beneficiation for industrialisation was urgently required in the minerals sector.
“At the forefront of this intervention should be the strengthening of the recently created State mining company by consolidating State mining assets into a single institution,” he said.
To drive the economic programme would be a developmental State in a mixed economy, where the State, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complemented each other in an integrated way to eliminate poverty and foster shared economic growth, Zuma added.
The Midrand policy conference finalised recommendations that are to be made at the 53rd ANC national conference, which is scheduled to take place in Mangaung in December.