Jul 22, 2011
Calls for 100% nationalisation or 100% privatisation extremely unhelpfulBack
© Reuse this
In what, I suppose, was an attempt to repair the damaged relationship, the President kept a crowd of freezing citizens for what must have been an eternity to them, waiting at the June 16 rally at Orlando stadium. The President sat patiently for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for his name to be called. This was at the congress of the Youth League, where he was the guest of honour.
While he was explaining himself to Malema and his followers, the stadium was emptying. By the way, the rally was a State event. We, as a result, now have a better sense of the President’s priorities. The President understands very well that his fate depends on the 6 000 or so delegates who will be gathered in Mangaung next year to re-elect or dethrone him, and Malema will be one of them. You, as one of the other 49 994 000 citizens, do not count.
Now that I have appraised you of your status as a citizen, let me give you an update of what the comrades have been saying. I am doing this because, despite your status, what the comrades have been saying is going to affect you – possibly your dividends and bank balance too. I am talking about the promise of a nationalised mining industry, of course.
The Youth League, at its congress, and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), at its central committee meeting, passed resolutions calling for nationalisation. However, the two bodies did not pass these resolutions for the same reasons. For Cosatu, this was a restatement of previous resolutions on the matter and an attempt to direct attention away from the Youth League by positioning itself as the authentic working class voice on the issue of nationalisation.
Remember that, at the Youth League congress, Malema had argued that the vanguard formation of the working class had failed to play the role of providing leadership to the working class and, because of this, the Youth League would fill the vacuum. To the extent that this was interpreted as a reference to both Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP), this is an attempt by Cosatu to re-assert its hegemony in this working class space.
Those of us who take a classical Marxist-Leninist view believe Malema’s verbal arrows were aimed at the SACP because the vanguard role is traditionally played by a communist party. This is not the function of a labour federation. Malema’s utterances will unavoidably start a debate on whether a youth league can, or should, perform the function of vanguard party of the working class.
What needs to be borne in mind is the fact that this is not a task the SACP can perform by proclamation. What Malema seems to be suggesting is that, at a practical level, the SACP has failed to lead by doing and by example. Objectively, this may be false but what matters is the fact that perceptions of the SACP as a party of the working class in decline have the potential to shape subjective responses to the Youth League’s call for nationalisation.
These perceptions may be reinforced by the SACP’s declared opposition to nationalisation. But it is important to understand that the SACP’s position is political, not ideological. Ideologically, the SACP remains committed to what it calls the ‘socialisation’ of mineral and other economic resources.
Politically, the SACP is opposed to the idea of nationalising mines because it believes that the Youth League is playing the role of a Trojan horse on behalf of black economic-empowerment (BEE) mining groups whose assets are in trouble.
The argument is that nationalisation would amount to nothing but a rescue package for BEE mining projects that are drowning in debt.
Is this true?
A report that was commissioned by the South African Mining Development Association states that black share- holders owned 5.27% of the shares of mining companies on the JSE at the end of March 2010. Of this, 3.58% of the gross black shareholding on the JSE does not require a bail-out and only 1.69% does.
If these figures are correct, the SACP’s argument is purely political.
To some extent, this is neither here nor there. What should occupy our minds is whether the State should play a role in the economy. In fact, many of the responses to Malema are just red herrings. An attempt is being made to kill the debate on the need for State intervention by responding mainly to extreme proposals in this regard.
Therefore, calls for either 100% nationalisation or 100% privatisation are extremely unhelpful.
To watch a video of Matshiqi discussing this column, click here.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Aubrey Matshiqi News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...