ANC's lack of clarity on nationalisation deters investors
The Times Editorial: Trevor Manuel, speaking last year at a business function, called the nationalisation of mines "a seriously bad idea".
Manuel went on to say that even reading the medium-term budget with half a brain would "confirm that there are no fiscal resources available through taxes or borrowing to pay for mines or invest in them, even if government were to get these mines gratis".
Manuel appears to be one of few ANC senior members to openly express his opposition to nationalisation - a campaign popularised by ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.
The party's secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, took issue with a nationalisation question at a press conference.
Mantashe launched into an explanation of the ANC's position on state intervention in mining and the 600-page document that it has received on nationalisation.
"Everybody, investors, mining companies, must come to the party and participate in the discussion in a constructive way, not blackmail.
"Express views, and not enter the debate on the other extremes. They call it the Malema articulation. The other extreme is that the only player in the discussion is the shareholder: it can't be."
Mantashe's explosion seems oddly timed given the fact that the mining indaba at which industry players and the government meet to talk about mining opened yesterday.
Manuel, for instance, spoke yesterday about using mining as a catalyst for economic growth, referring to the industry's contribution to the SA economy that has dropped from R103-billion in 1993 to R93-billion in 2009 in spite of a global commodities boom.
How must potential investors view the SA government's position on nationalisation when one of the ANC's most senior leaders accuses them of potential blackmail?
Unless the ANC's position on nationalisation is efficiently conveyed it is unlikely we will see the kind of investment SA needs.