Reuters | Thu, 27 May 2010 10:20
[miningmx.com] -- Julius Malema, the outspoken youth leader of South Africa's ruling ANC, said nationalisation of mines was being discussed by the party's top decision-making organ and could be adopted as policy in 2012.
Despite repeated assurances from President Jacob Zuma and the ruling party ANC that nationalisation was not government policy, Malema said the topic was under discussion by the ANC's National Executive Committee.
"I sit in the national executive committee... I know nationalisation is on the agenda of the ANC," the ANC Youth League president told lawmakers on Wednesday.
"...nationalisation will be resolved as a policy position in the 2012 centenary conference of the ANC," he said.
He was speaking during the first day of public hearings in parliament considering a state-owned mining company. Malema said the government's proposed state-owned mining company would precede nationalisation in the country.
Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has said nationalisation of South Africa's mines was not government policy and unlikely to be adopted any time soon, but rather than grabbing mines, the country would run a state-owned firm focused on strategic minerals such as coal and uranium.
The ruling ANC's militant Youth League has repeatedly called for the nationalisation of mines, worrying some investors in Africa's biggest economy -- the world's biggest platinum producer and the world's number four gold producer.
Although the influence of mining on gross domestic product has declined, particularly as gold reserves become exhausted, the sector remains one of the country's major employers.
Malema's latest comments are likely to raise fresh concern in South Africa's mining industry, a key sector of the economy, where investors are recovering from a global recession, a power crunch, high electricity tariffs and falling output.
Malema, describing himself as neither a capitalist nor a socialist, but rather a "progressive nationalist" said the ANCYL, an autonomous body with the ruling party but which has a history of militancy, wanted parliament to pass laws paving the way for a state-owned mining company.
"All mineral rights should be transferred to the state-owned mining company... where the state will hold a minimum of 60 percent shares, and for the remainder of the 40 percent, the private corporations should pay royalties and tax," Malema said.
Malema said the state-owned mining company's progress should be measured by its ability to create jobs, maximise the country's economic gain and uplifting poor mining towns.
"A minimum of 60 percent of the mineral resources extracted by the state-owned mining company should be locally beneficiated (processed) and industrialised, and 50 percent of such beneficiation and industrialisation of minerals should happen in mining communities," Malema said.
South Africa's government currently owns some minor mining companies directly, and has shareholding in bigger mining groups, including global miner Anglo American Plc.
Making his presentation in parliament, Nchakha Moloi, Chairman of South African Mining Development Association, a group of junior miners, said while his group supported the establishment of a state-owned mining company, it was with conditions, and he viewed nationalisation as a concern.
"Our members are entrepreneurs... and to an extent that there could be a policy in place that will go against that, it will not benefit us. We are referring to nationalisation if nationalisation means blanket expropriation without compensation," Moloi told Reuters.