JOHANNESBRURG – South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) wants to forge an economy in which its natural resources best serve the country, says the head of the party’s task team formed to study a proposal to nationalise mines.
National needs could take precedence over mining companies’ desire to export so that the country’s coal, iron-ore and other mineral reserves benefit the continent’s biggest economy, Enoch Godongwana said in an inter- view in Johannesburg.
South Africa’s policies should be guided by the extent to which we can use our resources to achieve a number of goals, among them growth and redistribution, Godongwana said.
“Legislation that supersedes any contract you have to ensure the assets meet the country’s needs is an option,” he said. “In certain circumstances, national interest must prevail.”
Citigroup last year valued the country’s mineral resources at $2.5-trillion, the highest of any nation. Leaders of companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Africa’s biggest gold producer, and Standard Bank Group, the continent’s largest lender, have said nationalising mines will curb growth and hinder job creation in a country where one in four is unemployed.
South Africa has the world’s largest reserves of platinum, 30% of the world’s gold, and supplies coal to Indian and European power stations. Anglo American, Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton have assets in the country, which is also home to two of the world’s four biggest gold miners and the two largest platinum producers.
The ANC’s Youth League and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the country’s largest labor grouping and a party ally, say that the ANC will adopt nationalisation as a policy at its national conference next year, and is only looking into the details of how best to do it. The study was agreed to after repeated demands by the youth wing, which is led by the 30-year-old Julius Malema.
“If there are some people who say we’re going to nationalise and we’re just looking at the modalities, I’d suggest that person is insulting the intelligence of ANC delegates,” said Godongwana, who opposes State control of industry. “I don’t believe we should take on managing more than we can.” Read more.