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Mineral wealth beneath the soil and mines should be transfered to the ownership of the people as a whole

15 July 2009

  In opening the ANC YL Political School on the 1st of July 2009, our call for the nationalisation of mines ignited a necessary reaction and overreactions from various quarters of society, often reflective of the class interests of the people who reacted. In the call for nationalisation of mines, we went further to assert that this will not please everyone, and that is why we are not shocked that certain people, particularly the representatives of big business are not happy. What surprises us though, it is those within our ranks who oppose the call for the nationalisation of mines, because this is a call of the Freedom Charter, which says unequivocally that "the mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole". The people as a whole is vividly distinguishable from State rentals of mineral wealth to big corporations who brutally exploit labour and unsustainably exploit mineral wealth to make big profits.   

The Freedom Charter is a the clearest expression of what the ANC and alliance partners seek to achieve in South Africa and any person who is against the Charter is against the aims of the ANC and the revolutionary alliance. Those who are tired of leading the African National Congress will dare oppose its ideals, because the declaration all members sign when joining the ANC commit all members to abide the aims and objectives of the Freedom Charter. As defenders of the revolution we will have a permanent problem with any member or leader of the ANC who opposes the Freedom Charter in an attempt to please the minority owners of Mines and mineral resources.   

The ANC YL has a responsibility historically to come with new ideas and methods of engagement towards the attainment of our ultimate goal. We are not prisoners of previous Congresses' resolutions even when material conditions have objectively shifted. So those who intend to silence us on the basis of resolutions should rethink their method of engagement, and understand that we can analyse and think on our own. We have a responsibility to break new ground and propose to the movement new tactics towards the attainment of our Strategic goal, and we will not allow anyone to take away such an important character of the ANC YL.  

Our call for nationalisation of mines is in such a manner where the State will own mineral wealth and mines as a custodian of the entire South African population, and not a custodian of few big-businesses. All South Africans should equitably benefit from State owned and controlled mines and we are not mistaken when we make the call for the nationalisation of Mines. We are vividly aware of the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) which retains State control of all mineral rights, but what we are calling for is State ownership and control of both the mineral wealth beneath the soil, and the extraction and production of these mineral resources in Mines thereof.  

Why is it that South Africa should be criminalised for nationalising our mineral wealth, whilst the big capitalists' States like the United States are nationalising their corporations in their countries. We should refuse to be controlled by imperialist forces whose interests will never converge with the interests of the South African population. Theirs is to make big profits at the expense of South Africans' labour and mineral resources, and this is historically the root of racial oppression. Racial oppression in South Africa is a direct consequence of colonialists' control of South Africa's mineral resources, and we have a responsibility to reverse such phenomenon.  

During the 2009 State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma said: "The creation of decent work will be at the centre of our economic policies and will influence our investment attraction and job-creation initiatives". It is our firm belief that if job-creation is genuinely at the centre of economic policies, then the State should own and control mineral wealth and mines so as to attract labour absorptive industrialists who will beneficiate our minerals resources and diversify South Africa's economy. The beneficiation of the mineral resources and diversification of the economy will never happen if minerals and mines are still controlled by the current owners, because their interests are only confined with exporting South Africa's minerals to the bigger economies.   

The threats of disinvestment are simply threats that cannot disorientate the South African economy. The investors need South Africa's economic resources, labour and expanding market as much as we appreciate their investments. They are investing in South Africa because they want to benefit, not because they are doing us a favour. So the threats of disinvestment are really hollow. As we said before, nationalisation of mines will not please everyone, and the ANC government should appreciate that in a class divided society like South Africa, some decisions will not go well with certain sections of society. We should be decisive and mobilise the people to understand that we need to nationalise mines in order to benefit all South Africans. Those who are calling for an open debate around the whole issue are welcome, as this will assist the people to decide their destiny and concretely affirm that indeed the mineral wealth beneath the soil should benefit all the people.   

Julius Malema - ANC YL President