TREASURE: A scene at the now bankrupt Pamodzi gold mine. Pic: Marianne Schwankhart. 05/2008. © The Times
TREASURE: A scene at the now bankrupt Pamodzi gold mine. Pic: Marianne Schwankhart. 05/2008. © The Times

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has risen to the occasion again and thrown the cat among the pigeons.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has risen to the occasion again and thrown the cat among the pigeons.

This time he has called on the ANC to nationalise mines.

For a while the ANC reacted like a hare caught in the glare of a cars' headlights.

"There is no plan to nationalise the mines," said ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

Later, Mantashe recanted, saying the issue of nationalisation must be debated.

Then Malema threw a curved ball, saying there was, in fact, no dispute around the issue of nationalisation.

"The ANC remains committed to the Freedom Charter (which calls for the nationalisation of the the country's natural resources)," he said.

"It's just that there are people who think they are more ANC than others."

So, according to Malema, the whole brouhaha about nationalisation is actually just broedertwis (sibling rivalry) among ANC members about who the real ANC is.


In fact, a peep into the ANC Polokwane resolution on economic transformation could prove that Malema's assertion about broedertwis is not far off the mark.

According to the resolution, the ANC's vision of economic transformation "takes as its starting point the Freedom Charter's clarion call that the people share in the country's wealth".

The resolution goes on to say that the party will achieve this objective "by transforming the structures of production and ownership, including through state custody of the nation's natural resources on behalf of the people".

Some call this process nationalisation. So the ANC is committed to nationalisation. The question is most probably where and how.

In fact, as Mantashe has pointed out, the ANC has nationalised the mineral rights in this country. In terms of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act of 2002, the state is the sole custodian of the country's mineral rights.

The problem is the actual extraction of the minerals has been given to the private sector.

The list of clashes between mining companies and communities in areas such as Limpopo are signs that this arrangement is not benefitting those communities.

One of the resolutions passed at the party's Polokwane conference was that the government should establish a state-owned mining company. This company would be involved in prospecting and actual mining on behalf of the people of South Africa.

To redress the situation, it has also been proposed that the state-owned mining company should become a majority shareholder in all mining operations.

These initiatives will indeed go a long way to ensuring that the natural resources of the country are shared by all its citizens.

In fact, to ensure that such wealth is equitably shared, revenues must be socialised.

This means we should not have a situation in which only the communities where the mines are based benefit from the outputs. Revenue must be utilised for the general development of communities throughout the country.

Concern has arisen about the efficiency of state-owned institutions. Indeed, the history of state-owned institutions does nothing to counter this concern.

But it must be pointed out that once again the ANC Polokwane conference had taken some steps to deal with this dire situation.


The conference had resolved "to ensure that state-owned enterprises, agencies and utilities - as well as companies in which the state has significant shareholding - respond to a clearly defined public mandate".

The ANC has come out to say that its mandate is to establish a "developmental state" that will intervene to benefit its people. It now has a resolution that says the state-owned entities must act in a manner that helps the state meet that mandate.

In this regard the ANC has put in place structures such at the monitoring and evaluation ministry, as well as the planning commission to ensure there is integrated planning and accountability.

One of the criticisms against state-owned enterprises has been that they normally operate as self-serving silos - with very little indication that they see themselves as part of a broader developmental strategy.

With these structures in place we hope the situation will improve. The ball is now in the ANC-led government's court to show that it is indeed business unusual and having efficient state-owned entities is part of the new order.