byBrownSuga Shandu on Friday, July 29, 2011 at 9:56am ·
Back ...
English (anyone who is a regular consumer of my material will be excused for being
convinced that I am paid to market this...
effect. In its Polokwane resolution (52nd National Conference, 16-20 December
2007), the ANC concluded its booklet on Stra...
Lastly, there is a question of the notorious Minerals and Petroleum Resources
Development Act (Act 28 of 2002). MPRDA brou...
new order based on the will of the people. Blah, blah, blah, blah…the charter was
subsequently endorsed by the C.O.P.
My fellow students, I guess we do qualify as students, even if by default, I am no
economist and I don’t know what the con...
52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane Dec 2007, ANC.
Building a National Democratic Society, Str...
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Nationalisation of mines

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Education      News & Politics      Entertainment & Humor      

Transcripts - Nationalisation of mines

  • 1. NATIONALISATION OF MINES – A LAY PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE byBrownSuga Shandu on Friday, July 29, 2011 at 9:56am · Public Back in the years, when I was still doing my Matric at Inhlakanipho High School I bunked a mathematics class and that day the teacher (well, the educator, so that I am contemporary, and not reveal my age) started a new lesson on “Sequences and Series”. I have regretted not attending that class till today. This has haunted me even in my later studies more especially in Business Science in the module of Operations Research. You see, when one misses the beginning of something…anything…one hardly keeps up with the conversations, debates or arguments pertaining to that subject. The reason for that is because one has been deprived of the opportunity to take off from the basis, from the foundation that forms the fundamentals of the subject. As BrownSuga, I and probably a few million other learned South Africans, have missed the very beginning of the debate surrounding the Nationalisation of Mines, as advocated by the African National Congress Youth League, but there is no way that I am going to wait until it haunts me at a later stage, like the introductory “Sequences and Series”. I want, together with everyone else who is in the same boat with me, to try and be part of this debate and be comfortable in the engagement. It would be interesting to be able to contribute informed and academic views on the matter, as a South African citizen. Maybe the best way to achieve this would be to take off from where the debate is right now…in order to determine our point of departure in our attempt to reach the point of necessary comprehension that would allow us acceptable unreserved participation in the debate, going forward (pardon me, I could not miss out on an opportunity to say “going forward” as I have observed how fashionable the expression is, these days…almost in every meeting I attend). It is a known fact that the ANCYL under the leadership of Julius Malema (I really envy this young man…he has become the second most popular person in the media circles, these days) is the champion of this topic. Now, one wonders why the ANCYL and not the mother body itself. Well, that is one other matter that confuses us, the lay people, even more. We are not only aware of the fact that the Youth League is championing this, but we are also aware of the fact that the ANC is completely mum on the issue. Maybe, during the course of this excursion we will also establish what the position of the other alliance partners is regarding the matter. We would also ascertain where the Youth League is coming from and where exactly it is going. In the process we are also interested in finding out why there is resistance and where exactly it is coming from. Okay, okay, first things first. NATIONALISATION Having created a classroom situation it would be best to have a similar perspective on the concepts that we want to deliberate on. According to the Oxford Dictionary of
  • 2. English (anyone who is a regular consumer of my material will be excused for being convinced that I am paid to market this “world’s most trusted dictionary” because I always use it as a reference. The truth of the matter is, firstly, I started using it during my freshman days at the University whilst still struggling with English 1 and I have kind of become used to it and, secondly, because it is the only English dictionary I have), “nationalize” means “transfer (a major branch of commerce or industry) from private to state ownership or control”. Now we are all clear that what the Youth League is proposing is that all the “mines” should be owned and controlled by the Government. If we indulge in a little research we learn that surface workers on South African mines earn roughly R1500 (US$221.57 at the present R/$ rate - 26th July 2011) while underground workers earn R3000 (US$433.13), figures which have not changed much since 2005. Research further reveals that the average wage of a Canadian mine worker in 2005 was US$2607per month (available at This is 6 times more than what a South African mine worker earns in 2011, yet the Canadians earned it in 2005. A ton of Gold currently brings in US$51 632 000 and Platinum generates US$57 312 000 (according to the current 26th July 2011 commodities figures). I cannot even begin to remove the dollar sign here and make the rand the subject of the formula because the figure will just become astronomical. One would justifiably ask why I would want to do that. It’s simple; this is a product that was mined in South Africa, with South African expenses, so it must be measured in Rand terms. Well let me stifle the urge to bombard you with figures that have to do with what mineral commodities account for in total exports and all that nonsense. What we may observe though is that it is quite strange, given these staggering export figures, that such a wealthy country have the issues of unemployment, poverty, disease, homelessness and crime assume equally staggering proportions. Well, lest we become accused of assuming a position, let us proceed with our excursion. We now know what nationalisation means and we have a clear view of what would happen in actualization of the contemplation. In fact, we now know the significance, in economic terms, of this sector in the country. If we take a step back and inspect the Freedom Charter, not exactly the terrain I am familiar with, (ok, go ahead and raise your eyebrows –as this unexpected declaration reveals how less informed I am, politically). Somewhere in this charter there is something about the people of this land (country) owning every resource that obtains in it. I know it is not put like that in the Charter but it says something to this
  • 3. effect. In its Polokwane resolution (52nd National Conference, 16-20 December 2007), the ANC concluded its booklet on Strategy and Tactics by adopting: Chapter 9: Clause 224. During the First Decade of Freedom, we were able to consolidate and deepen our democratic system and introduce critical programmes for social transformation. The progress we have made is commendable; and the decisive actions in the early years of the Second Decade of Freedom hold out the promise of faster progress towards our ideals. But we are only at the beginning of a protracted process of change. 225. The ANC celebrates the end of the first century of its existence wielding political power –a critical platform to improve the quality of life of South Africans and contribute to building a better world. The strategic task remains the same. But the environment in which it has to be pursued has changed significantly for the better. 226. In this phase of national democratic transformation, the ANC commits itself to intensifying its work around five pillars of social transformation: The state, The economy Organisational work, Ideological struggle, and International work. The above clauses are not exactly a show of, on the part of the author, they are meant to establish the point of departure of the Youth League. Whatever the Youth League does, it must never deviate from the policies of the mother-body. Before we get to that let us look at three issues that may be identified as the real impediments on the side of the ANC when it comes to the nationalisation of mines. Firstly, a number of myths have emerged about the South African economy, much of these stem from the ideological desire by the ruling class, particularly during the Mbeki terms in the presidency, to perpetuate neo-liberalism, to reverse the gains by the working class and to commodify even the most basic services such as health, education, electricity supply, water, transport and housing. [David van Wyk, Debate on Nationalising the Mines in South Africa]. Secondly, South Africa –presently one of the world’s most unequal societies (and arguably getting poorer in real terms), is constructed around a political economy that is defined by the resource seeking corporations, and managed by a revenue seeking (landlord) government. [Khadija Sharife, Why Nationalising Mines in South Africa will not work].
  • 4. Lastly, there is a question of the notorious Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (Act 28 of 2002). MPRDA brought mineral rights under state control, therefore it is not necessary to nationalize mines, as this piece of legislation means that all South Africans through state ownership of the mineral rights already share in the wealth of the mining industry. The above three paragraphs at least give us the idea as to why the mother body does not become a “hot head”, when the topic of nationalisation comes up, as it is customary for it when it comes to any other issues raised by their offspring. One can only surmise that there are some surreptitious meetings between the organisation’s strategists with a desired end of overcoming, if not sidestepping, the above hurdles. This is me now thinking out loud and I would not appreciate being quoted. My thoughts are based on the fact that having read both the 52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane, 16-20 December, as well as the booklet with a title “Building a National Democratic Society”, Strategy and Tactics, adopted at the same conference, there is not a single word which spells m-i-n-e-s or which spells n-a-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-s-e. I don’t think that this is a matter of serendipity. It is very much deliberate. Whoever wrote these articles was painstakingly conscious that these two words were acatalectically omitted. Well, your guess is as good as mine. I am no politician. I only commentate on what people do or do not do, and that’s it. I leave the why’s and the why not’s to the accredited, if not self-proclaimed analysts. Maybe for the benefit of people like myself, I would like to take a rain check on the stance adopted, if there is a stance at all, by the two alliance partners –COSATU and the SACP –in this matter. This is a deliberate move on my part as I have a very limited attention span and I do not want to lose track of what I have gained from this brief. I am also creating an excuse to deliberate on the same topic with a focal point now on the remaining two tripartite partners, at a later stage. I therefore would like to look at what we refer to as the terminus a quo, in the circles of academia, of the ANCYL. If time permits we will also try and speculate on the consequences that would be borne by the realization of their contemplation. Back in August 1953, Prof ZK Mathews formally suggested convening a Congress of the People (not to be confused with the present day COPE…by the way, are they still in existence, COPE, I mean?) acronymmed C.O.P. to draw up the Freedom Charter. The idea was adopted by the allies of the ANC, the South African Indian Congress, the South African Coloured People’s Organisation and the South African Congress of Democrats. The Congress of the People was not a single event but a series of campaigns and rallies, huge and small, held in houses, flats, factories, kraals, on farms and in the open. The National Action Council enlisted volunteers to publicize the C.O.P, educate the people, note their grievances and embark on a “million signatures campaign”. Thus when the people met on the 25th and 26th June 1955, in Kliptown, near Johannesburg, represented a historical moment in establishing a
  • 5. new order based on the will of the people. Blah, blah, blah, blah…the charter was subsequently endorsed by the C.O.P. When we look at the Charter, there is a pre-amble, of course, and then some declarations. For the purposes of this paper we shall focus on the third declaration. It goes: THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE COUNTRY’S WEALTH! The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people; The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and the monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people; All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions. I guess we will have to leave the Freedom Charter right there and come back to our argument. To me, it looks like the Youth League has a case. I would hastily like to point out that the case of the youth is actually against the ANC. A closer look at the Polokwane report, resolution 3, addressing the Economic Transformation, we establish that it actually talks to the Freedom Charter. Paragraph 7 of this resolution reads: “The skewed patterns of ownership and production, the spatial legacies of our apartheid past and the tendencies of the economy towards inequality, dualism and marginalization will not recede automatically as economic growth accelerates. Therefore, the decisive action is required to thoroughly and urgently transform the economic patterns of the present order to realize our vision for the future. This includes addressing the monopoly domination of our economy, which remains an obstacle to the goals of economic transformation, growth and development”. Ahaa…! So, this is where the youth is coming from. It is worrying to note even a semblance of consternation from the Government at the call of the Youth League. Malema et al would love to move onto the next item on the ANC’s agenda but it looks like some believe that this is Malema’s agenda. I say it definitely is not. It is an agenda which was formulated as far back as 1955. In fact it was formulated by boys and girls who were as young as the youth of today and it is intriguing to note that it is their present day peers who have the audacity of grabbing the bull by its horns and do what those who have grown old and soft are afraid to do.
  • 6. My fellow students, I guess we do qualify as students, even if by default, I am no economist and I don’t know what the consequences of nationalising the mines and, at a later stage, the banks, would do to the country’s GDP. I have heard a complaint in the past about parastals like SAA, Eskom, Railways, and the like being inefficient and lacking in the quest for economic motive and all that being attributed to them being State-run. I know as well that there is no single day that a flight does not leave King Shaka International for OR Tambo International, or the entire South Africa becomes a blanket of darkness, or that trains have come to a grinding halt, as a result of these parastatals being controlled by the state. So, for me the argument that nationalising mines would result to a complete collapse of the South African economy does not exactly hold. If my little boy, King Ayavuya, rightfully owns a toy –say a remote-controlled model helicopter- but because of age and lack of experience cannot operate it, it would be unfair of me or anybody to give it to the boy next door to derive benefits (pleasure) out of it. If anything, I would request him (the boy next door) to play with it together with Ayavuya until the latter becomes an expert as well. It belongs to him after-all. I sincerely hope that this throws some light in the debate and it also brings us at par with the so-called experts, analysts, economists and politicians and whenever we find ourselves in an unenviable position of having to make a meaningful contribution when the above-mentioned fundis are indulging their egos by engaging on the topic at those unlikely (but usually so) places like taverns, hair-salons (I wonder if girls discuss such matters at all) and sports fields. I always assume a different perspective altogether when it comes to arguments. I strongly believe that one should air one’s views about the topic if one is fairly conversant with the issues. Again one should engage in the debate solely for enrichment purposes. One’s own enrichment or the other party’s. Arguments for me should always leave one with a positive sense of satisfaction and should never leave one morose and feeling drained and inferior. It is not every time that we as people, friends, siblings and colleagues agree on a point. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree (lol…that’s quite an old one…even before the Freedom Charter). Oh…please shut up BrownSuga and give us some references and acknowledgements!!!! Researched, Googled, Cut and Pasted, Written and Narrated By: BrownSuga Shandu Bibliography: Debate on Nationalising the Mines in South Africa, David van Wyk. The Africa Report, Khadija Sharife.
  • 7. MzansiEconomistress. 52nd National Conference Report, Polokwane Dec 2007, ANC. Building a National Democratic Society, Strategy and Tactics, ANC. African National Congress Constitution, as amended, Polokwane, ANC. The Freedom Charter, 1955. Oxford Dictionary of English.