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ANC says no to nationalisation

Jul 01 2012 09:28
Jan de Lange

Johannesburg - The research report on state intervention in the mining industry (Sims) that rejects nationalisation was accepted by the ANC’s policy conference in Midrand this week.

This means that the conference said “no” to nationalisation, but certainly “yes” to the state playing a bigger role in the mining industry.

But nationalisation as a broad principle was discussed at length during an emotional debate and will probably surface again at the Mangaung conference in December.

When the conference closed on Friday evening there had however been few other indications of decisions on economic policy taken, despite hopeful expectations that the uncertainty about issues like land ownership, higher taxes for mines and compulsory mineral enrichment would be resolved.

As far as the mining industry is concerned the acceptance of the research report amounts to a no, said Enoch Godongwana, the ANC’s head of economic policy, after the closure of the Midrand conference.

It was in September 2010 that nationalisation first appeared on the agenda of the national executive meeting in Durban, he said. It had been decided that information on nationalisation in the mining industry should be obtained before a decision could be taken. A team was appointed to examine research on state involvement in the mining industry.

"The evidence presented in the research report does not indicate the inclusion of nationalisation as a policy option in our circumstances," said Godongwana.

As far as rental income (income on super profits) is concerned, it was decided that this would be collected by means of taxation instruments.

“What the instruments should be is, however, still undecided,” he added.

But the conference’s decisions will not allay concerns about ANC policy. It was a continual theme accompanying all decisions at the week’s conference that policy should be more militant and radical and that all delays in applying policy should immediately come to an end.

In his closing address which, according to sources within the conference was preceded by a debate on nationalisation, President Jacob Zuma used every possible opportunity to make it clear that greater transformation demands lie in wait for the business sector.

He quoted statistics to show that total black ownership of the JSE’s market capitalisation, 18 years after the country’s liberation, amounts to only 6.8%, and that only 16.9% of the top management of companies is black and only 25.9% of senior managers black.

One of the possible interventions envisaged is the need to create a progressive competitive policy in line with development objectives, he said.

Godongwana later said that steel prices, over which government has for years felt aggrieved, were not discussed.

Import pricing parity and finding ways for the competition authorities to counter it were discussed extensively, he said.

Coal as a strategic mineral was discussed as well.

A discussion on coal as a strategic mineral had not been proposed, but rather that the country should have adequate access to coal before the resource is exported and that it should be available at lower prices than international market prices. “We won't pay import parity prices for coal,” Godongwana stated.

The conference also had long discussions about youth unemployment. Various proposals were presented in this regard, including the creation of the job-seekers grant that Zuma mentioned at the outset and which is also noted in one of the discussion documents.

No decisions were taken about any of the proposals. What was decided, though, is the urgency. All the proposals will be discussed with youth organisations and the labour movement, including a wage subsidy, said Godongwana.

 - Sake24

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