Secretary-general of the ANC Gwede Mantashe

The government had no plans to nationalise mines that were no longer profitable, ANC secretar-general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

“Let me tell you why (these mines) should be put up for public auction. Let me give you the logic. If government takes over liability, that is not nationalisation,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Pretoria.

“We are inheriting liabilities from capitalists who have made money and want to run away from responsibility that goes with the end of life of a mine.”

The ANC rejected the idea of wholesale nationalisation at its elective conference in Mangaung last month.

Mantashe was responding to a call by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) yesterday for the government to nationalise mines that Anglo American Platinum (Angloplat) wanted to shut if the company continued with the proposed retrenchment of 14 000 workers.

“If Anglo persists with the retrenchments, it’s a window for government to take those mines and nationalise them,” Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said.

Angloplat announced on Tuesday that it planned to stop production at four of its shafts in Rustenburg, which could result in the loss of 14 000 jobs, and to sell a mine that was considered unsustainable.

In response, workers at the affected mines refused to go underground on Tuesday.

The Angloplat plan came after Harmony Gold suspended operations at its Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville while it reviewed the mine’s future after several unprotected strikes.

Mantashe said the ANC had made a proposal to the Mineral Resources Department that shafts that had been idled should be put up for auction.

The ANC had proposed “that mines with mothballed shafts must give up their licences” and put the shafts up for public auction “for companies that want to operate”.

The retrenchments were “mischievous and insensitive”.

He said the NEC would elect its national working committee over the next two days.

“There are two issues (to be addressed): political overview and the election of the national working committee,” he said.

The meeting in Pretoria was a continuance of the NEC’s first meeting in Durban, on January 11.

Mantashe said the ANC would hold its national lekgotla from January 30 to February 2 to “streamline” the implementation of the Mangaung conference resolutions. – Sapa