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Manuel: No nationalisation yet

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has shot down calls to nationalise South Africa's mines. Photo: Damaris Helwig

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has shot down calls to nationalise South Africa's mines. Photo: Damaris Helwig

Published Sep 24, 2010

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Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has shot down calls to nationalise South Africa’s mines.

Manuel, who was briefing the media on the findings of the ANC’s economic commission at its national general council (NGC) in Durban on Friday, said limited resources were available and that the state could not afford to pay out a fortune every time it wanted to take over a mine.

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“If you are going to do this, in every instance, the issue of the resource debate must enter somewhere,” Manuel said.

“What the NEC (the ANC’s national executive committee) must do in next two years is look at all of these issues and answer the question of what it means.

“If every bit of tax you collect is going to pay out mine owners and not deliver on the NHI (National Health Insurance) what are the implications of that?

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“You may have to give up on some of things you may want to do. There are trade-offs in economic policy everywhere. Work must be done over the next two years or so.”

The two-year probe to be conducted by the NEC would not be limited to the mining sector but include sectors such as banking.

The NGC also agreed upon the setting up of a state-owned mining company and a state-owned bank Ä it was yet to be determined whether the bank would be a new institution or whether it would take the form of a “re-tooled” Post Bank.

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Manuel said the debate on nationalisation had dominated the commission’s debate. He described the discussions on nationalisation as “flavoursome”.

“Like some of the curries in this part of the world, it was hot.

“We emerged with a position. The difficulty is how different this position is to positions already canvassed.

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“The key issue is in the paragraph (in the report) of the NGC mandating NEC to do further work on this, to take evidence from all over the world and to give the policy conference in 2012 a sense of what works and what doesn’t.”

A special cabinet meeting will be held after the NGC to give attention to country’s “new growth path”.

“Cabinet will have to sit down in a special session and deal with this,” Manuel said.

Manuel said the world had lived through “an unbelievably deep recession”.

“There is still a debate of where things will be taken from here.

“Around the world we have seen deep unemployment. Many families are servicing debt. The question that arises in the context of growth path is what has happened to the ability of government to have hands-on levers of decision-making.”

The nationalisation of the mines was a contentious issue for the ruling party in the run-up to the NGC, with the ANC Youth League ardently driving the debate for its introduction.

The public face of the drive for nationalisation was league president Julius Malema, who is adamant that the mines would be nationalised in his lifetime.

ANC leaders have, however, been cautious in its approach; with most saying nationalisation was not ANC policy. The NEC’s investigation would determine whether nationalisation should be put on the table at the ANC’s 2012 policy conference.

Thereafter, if it is excepted as policy, it has to be agreed upon and resolved on at the ANC’s 2012 national conference. - Sapa

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