Delegates to the 53rd National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) sing and dance in the streets of Bloemfontein.

Bloemfontein - There has been little talk of nationalisation in Mangaung, but the ANC’s national conference has backed “resource rent” taxes on mining firms.

While it is not yet clear how these taxes would be implemented, Deputy Finance Minister Nhanhla Nene sought to reassure business leaders, telling them to look at the party’s prudent track record.

While Reuters reported yesterday that a draft policy document asserted that “the state must capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation”, Nene said earlier this week that the ANC had “never taken” tax policy positions “on the hoof”.

Any proposals emerging from the elective conference – which has been considering a document on state intervention in the mining sector (Sims) drawn up by the policy conference in June – would undergo a thorough consultation process, Nene said.

The Sims document proposes a tax on mining super-profits, but it is not clear that this will be implemented.

“I assure you we [Treasury] will not be reckless… this is one area that we have handled with care all along,” said Nene, who was standing in for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Sapa reported that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said that while the union federation did not believe in wholesale nationalisation of mines, it wanted the government to play a more strategic role in the sector. “It must carefully consider where it wants to involve itself,” Vavi said. – Donwald Pressly