Real test for debate on nationalisation

THE debate on nationalisation or state ownership of the economy is raging again. ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's recent calls for the nationalisation of mines was supported by Cosatu and the Young Communist League.

THE debate on nationalisation or state ownership of the economy is raging again. ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema's recent calls for the nationalisation of mines was supported by Cosatu and the Young Communist League.

The ANC says the matter is open for debate. Truth is, the government already holds the mineral rights of the country. But in the past 15 years it has been giving away our mineral rights to private companies and BEE friends for nothing. Furthermore, our government has been supporting mining companies to forcibly remove people from platinum areas across North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

About 80percent of the world's known platinum is in South Africa. The return from platinum alone can solve most of our poverty issues. Last year Anglo Platinum made a net profit of R14billion from our platinum.

If Malema wants to be taken seriously, he should advice President Jacob Zuma to stop government harassment of people in platinum areas. The government needs to set up an independent inquiry into human rights abuses in these platinum areas.

Nationalisation is not a joke. It can be an important instrument in the struggle to democratise the economy. But you can't have a democratic economic policy within the capitalist system.

The ANC is committed to private property and capitalism. Nationalisation was anathema a few years ago. But now nationalisation is used to rescue the terminally ill capitalism. The poor are being robbed to keep alive a system that is opposed to their interests.

For nationalisation to benefit the masses it must be driven by popular democracy, which puts people before profits.

Otherwise nationalisation leads to state capitalism, which only benefits the state elites. Nationalisation without socialisation is bad for the poor.

This debate on nationalisation could mean a number of things. Firstly, it is just like after 1994, when the different elites within the ANC used threats of nationalisation to put pressure on the mining houses to give them BEE shares.

The white mining houses, in response, gave shares to politically connected blacks and in exchange our mineral rights were surrendered to these white companies. How do you think Cyril Ramaphosa, Patrice Motsepe, Mzi Khumalo, Tokyo Sexwale and others became mining bosses?

They took the mines for themselves in the name of the masses. The poor black mineworkers continue to die digging for gold for the old and new exploiters.

It is hard not to think of the new call for nationalisation as a ploy by the Polokwane victors to enter the minerals business through the suggested government mining company.

Now that they are in government they would control who benefits from such a company. It's a question of (former president Thabo) Mbeki's people have eaten, now let Zuma's people eat too.

It could also be that allowing Malema to be spokesperson for nationalisation is a clever ploy to delegitimise it, to make it a nonsense idea.

The real test is what programme and pressure is being placed before the Zuma administration to facilitate the return and democratisation of the economy to the people as a whole? Nothing is on the table. They failed to return the land, how can they even touch the minerals?

Society must enter this debate if we want to end poverty. It is our right to share in the economy as equal partners.

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