Nationalisation debate will remain

2012-07-03 15:28

Johannesburg - The nationalisation debate will remain unless the mining industry gets the support of people living around mines, Mintek CEO Abie Mngomezulu said on Tuesday.

"Without having those communities on our side, we will always have those problems of nationalisation," he said at the Mining for Change seminar in Johannesburg.

In the past, mines went to rural areas, erected a shaft, built hostels, bussed in men and provided food and accommodation.

This later changed to a housing allowance and food rations, but expectations of paternalism remained.

It set off the current mushrooming of squatter camps around mines, because people still expected this support from mines.

Families living around mines watched outsiders come in and get jobs, when their own children, even if they had qualifications, could not.

"And we think those children won't fight for nationalisation? I don't think we will be in a better position going forward until we resolve the problem of the communities in the mining areas."

The example of the Bafokeng - who are in empowerment agreements with mining companies operating where they live in the North West - should be looked at, he said.

African National Congress MP Faith Bikani, who serves on parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources, said the ANC's policies were not about the "selfishness of the state".

"The principal objective is to transform mining to serve all," she said.

On a recent visit to a mine in the Free State, she found there were still single sex hostels for women miners, who were breadwinners with families, in spite of commitments by the human settlements department to meet companies half way with housing provision.

The actual meaning of "nationalisation" - whether it was 100% state ownership or not - also needed to be decided.

"It's about how we understand nationalisation. If we just talk about the state nationalising mines, it's not possible. We are not in a position to afford it."

On Friday, at the conclusion of its policy conference, the ANC said it had decided not to pursue the nationalisation of mines, but to move towards greater state intervention.

Anglo Gold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani said the ANC had managed the discussions well, but more was needed, and the industry had to be involved.

If it did not participate, it would have only itself to blame later.

Until the threat of losing ownership of critical assets was removed, investors would be scared of a full commitment, he said.

Business Day reported that Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor global ratings agencies had given their credit ratings for South Africa a negative outlook, which meant the next move could be a downgrade.

Fitch reportedly cited the "failure to put a nail in the coffin of nationalisation" as a reason.

Cutifani said: "The 'n-word' is really a symptom of another conversation, and the real conversation is really around social benefit."

On a recent trip to Guinea, he found that although 10% of the local community was employed because of the mines, the prices of goods and services for the rest of the community had risen because of the mining activity.

Roleplayers had to find a way of making sure the rest of the community was also better off.

This involved more discussions with them on finding out what they wanted, and training them to ask the right questions.

The mining industry contributes 45% to global gross domestic product and is one of the few industries with the capital available to develop infrastructure such as roads, which help communities.

Companies, governments and institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had a chance to work together to provide an infrastructure strategy that could be adopted in Africa, instead of aid.

"We just need to have the conversation," he said.

  • christelle.james.7 - 2012-07-03 15:56

    There are many issues addressed in this article - who are the outsiders coming in taking the jobs - is it immigrants from north whom are welcomed by our government? 2ndly - why would people expect housing, food etc - because we taught them so? Then he is also clear the 100% nationalision is impossible - buddy, we are in total agreement, but the youth league of our ruling party will not accept it - it is not even about nationalision, its about wanting everything.

  • nicholas.graan - 2012-07-03 16:11

    Are these people living around the mines, and the money hungry politicians also prepared to take a portion of the risk factors involved in mining? or are they just there to grab the loot?

  • Michael - 2012-07-03 16:19

    Of course, how very "Afriliberal" we must be - let's make sure the tail gives the dog a really good wagging....

  • george.michaelides.71 - 2012-07-03 16:30

    rob Peter to pay Paul.............nough said....

  • BigChiefPlumbPudding - 2012-07-03 16:35

    I'm all for it. We must follow the raging and unbelievable success that Zimbabwe has achieved. We've seen it work there, and it is a shining example of how things should be. Definitely yes, full steam ahead to nationalisation. Viva.

  • andrew.cooks.5 - 2012-07-03 16:46

    The dumb politicians don't understand business. If the anc nationalize the mines, south african delicate economy would be broken, leaving us with empty mines and no work for millions. If they expropriate farms, SA people will starve and people that can afford it will skip town to Europe & America, leaving all the unemployed, hungry and the revolutionaries behind. What they are doing now, they are chasing away potential investors that want to invest in a developing country but with talks of nationalization they would rather invest in India, Brazil, Argentina etc. All just because one fat boy needed to stir up racism so that their supporters can’t see the real problem facing South Africa.

  • raul.curado.1 - 2012-07-03 22:24

    Nationalisation!? We are privatising by the day! We have Private Security, because the police is dysfunctional. We have more Private Schools because the Government Schools are in a chaos. We have Private Health Care because the National Health System is in chaos. We are indeed privatising more! What are they talking about?!!!

      lesheck1 - 2012-07-04 04:59

      raul.I like your very realistic conclusion.

  • Bertie Hunter Kenedy Henery - 2012-07-04 08:21

    so if the original inhabitants of this country can take mines that do not belong to them for themselves and abuse anyone who has a comment against it? then in theory we white southafricans can go to Europe and demand they give us their properties because we originally came from there? this whole nationalisation issue is but one thing black vs white, the government is trying to use the black people to support their cause by throwing tradition in their face , but the facts are if the mines get taken not black or white will ever see the money or improvement to southafrica,

  • mark.schulz.796 - 2012-07-04 08:48

    The rest of the world was having this debate from the 1920's. Trust SA to be a century behind. Lenin nationalised Russian industry in 1921, it failed. Britain nationalised its own 'commanding heights' after world war 2, it failed in 1970. America tightened government regulations on private industry after the Wall Street crash in 1929 and maintained the regime after WW2, and it failed in 1972. The National Party had its own nationalisation schemes in 1948, the economy stagnated in the 1960's and 1970s. They all tried the Keynsian model to spend themselves out of trouble but in the 1980s they all realized that state run, centrally planned model that traded high inflation for employment was dead in the water. Here comes the ANC, fighting in the bush while the 'big boys' were in class getting schooled in free markets, with their homework (the Freedom Charter) based on invalidated economic doctrines... Good job! Here's a dunce cap for you - now go and sit in the corner. Please, if any ANC members are offended, just take a look at Milton Friedman's 'Free to Choose' series (on Youtube) and PBS's 'The Commanding Heights' series (also on Youtube). Don't go down in history as another power clique that refused to learn from those that had gone before them.

  • Bertie Hunter Kenedy Henery - 2012-07-04 08:58

    this boils down to the anc once again pitting whites against blacks and vice versa, they shift the focus to racism and then when everyone is busy with the black and white debate they do what they want and steal from both blacks and whites, racism needs to stop, because about 60%of southafrica wasnt even part of it !

  • leaproach.thekeeper - 2012-07-04 13:57

    Tsk....communists. Supporting an ideology as defunct as apartheid. Communism/socialism only works when there are capitalists to pay the bill.

  • Johan De Beer - 2012-07-05 19:31

    These "communities". Were they there before the mines, or did they settle there due to the mines? Why would they then have a right to lay claim to anything?

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