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Wed Dec 07 20:16:36 SAST 2016

We will not drop Freedom Charter goals

Julius Malema | 2011-08-14 03:39:10.0

The input by Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa - "Let's mine, not undermine" (July 7) - is welcome, because it begins to pose critical questions about the role of mining in reducing unemployment, poverty and massive inequalities.

However, it falls short in addressing the ideological and political questions, which are elementary in a discussion of this nature.

The ANCYL is content that almost everybody important is beginning to discuss nationalisation - although some of those doing so blow hot air and never provide alternatives.

Ramaphosa's logic is that the call for nationalisation of mines comes as a result of the slow transformation of the predominantly white-owned and -controlled mining industry, and that it could have been avoided if the Mining Charter objectives had been met.

The solution he proposes, therefore, is that greater compliance to the Mining Charter, particularly increased ownership and control by historically disadvantaged individuals, will stop the discussion on the nationalisation of mines. The ANC's ideological commitment to total realisation of all Freedom Charter objectives is, in the process of debate, thus replaced with what is immediately convenient, and this is a conclusively inappropriate manner of contribution from the political leadership of the movement.

One of the reasons South Africa has achieved almost nothing with regards to economic transformation and the transfer of wealth from the minority to the majority, is because some leaders in government are tempted to de-politicise economic policies.

The de-politicisation of government policies and interventions has led to massive inequalities and increasing unemployment and poverty levels because the politicians deployed in government are trying to be something they are not.

In everything the ANC does, politics and ideology should never be absent - because that is what kept the ANC together for decades.

However, this does not prevent tactical and pragmatic interventions in pursuit of the ultimate ideological and political strategic goal, which in the ANC is the implementation of the Freedom Charter.

The nationalisation of mines and general transfer of wealth from the minority to the benefit of all South Africans is a long-standing ideological position of the ANC, perfectly expressed in the charter. These goals are what the ANC lives for, and what it was banned, exiled, and defamed for during its existence.

This is the basis upon which the ANCYL calls for nationalisation .

We understood and accepted the explanation that the ANC could not nationalise mines and take back the land during the transition from apartheid to democracy because the balance of forces was not in favour of the progressive forces of change.

In terms of the strategy and tactics adopted by the ANC in 2007, the balance of forces has shifted in favour of the forces of change, and we therefore carry an obligation to implement and fulfil Freedom Charter objectives. The charter speaks about transferring ownership of mineral wealth to the people as a whole, and anyone who disputes that, in the ANC, this was and is understood as the nationalisation of mines, is dishonest and pathetically opportunist.

The discussion document of the ANCYL on nationalisation has substantially illustrated through correct data that the nationalisation of mines has been a commitment of the ANC: the foundation of this commitment is the Freedom Charter, which still guides the movement.

Despite the ideological and political commitment to the ideals of the charter, the ANCYL has presented valid, substantial and pragmatic reasons why the nationalisation of mines should happen.

Ramaphosa ignores these pragmatic reasons and chooses to spread fallacies that nationalisation has never succeeded in countries where it has been implemented.

Whilst dynamically linked to international trade, the strategic sectors of China's economy are owned and controlled by the state. The amount of resource rents derived from the state-owned and -controlled industries in Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia, Norway and many other countries significantly contribute to the state fiscus and many of the social-development interventions which the state provides to its citizens.

Pragmatically and in line with the charter objectives, the ANCYL's position is that mines should be nationalised so that the minerals extracted from the soil are locally beneficiated and industrialised to grow the economy and create many job opportunities. This will decisively address the massive unemployment and poverty crisis confronting South Africa. No one seems to be paying attention to this important policy proposition, and that is where they miss the point.

The ANCYL also says that nationalised mines can play a strategic role in decentralising economic development by ensuring that this beneficiation and industrialisation happens in the mining communities, which will lead to the creation of new cities in the same manner Johannesburg was developed because of the discovery of gold underneath its soil.

South Africa's sovereignty can be easily undermined because a substantial component of our mineral and natural resources are foreign owned and controlled - and those foreigners can, as they are doing in Libya, seek to intervene in domestic political developments in order to safeguard their economic interests.

This will be in direct contravention of the United Nations General Assembly's 1962 resolution, which says "the rights of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the wellbeing of the people of the state concerned". This is what the ANCYL is arguing. But those who are trying to remove politics from this discussion in order to adopt neo-liberal positions seem to ignore this reality.

We are also saying that nationalisation will provide the space and necessity to intensify the provision of education, skills and expertise in the entire minerals value chain - from extraction, processing, beneficiation and industrialisation to manufacturing and trade.

At the moment there is no necessity to produce so many skills in all these sectors because SA's minerals are processed, beneficiated, and industrialised elsewhere - which deprives the people of an opportunity to address the fundamental questions of joblessness and poverty.

These are the issues we should all be discussing, instead of ventilating divergent anger and untruths around the political and ideological commitments of the Freedom Charter.

The essence of the nationalisation debate is that it is not an apolitical discussion, but one resting in the objectives of the ANC-led liberation movement.

In 1956, Nelson Mandela said: "It is true that in demanding the nationalisation 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.

"But such a step is absolutely imperative and necessary because the realisation of the charter is inconceivable, in fact impossible, unless and until these monopolies are first smashed up and the national wealth of the country turned over to the people."

Those who want to substitute the charter are not only disingenuous, but are committing a political and ideological felony which can never be associated with the ANC.

While we appreciate the inputs of all who contributed, we still cannot hear the alternatives to the policy propositions we have placed on the agenda. The provision of skills as proposed by Ramaphosa is not in opposition to our call for nationalisation. The production of more skills, education and expertise should be intensified to complement nationalised mines.

  • Malema is the president of the ANC Youth League

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