The ruling African National Congress (ANC) says resolutions taken at its Youth League’s congress which ended on Sunday did not alter the parent body’s policies being implemented at government level.
“We want to state unequivocally that the ANCYL resolutions remain those of the League and do not alter ANC policies being implemented at government level,” said ANC spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, in a statement. The ANC statement was issued after agricultural unions on Monday raised serious concerns about ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema’s talk of taking land without compensation.
In addition, mining lawyer Peter Leon, warned the R52 billion that was wiped off the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) in 72 hours when the Mining Charter was leaked in 2002 will look like a “storm in a teacup” compared with the adoption of full-blown nationalisation of South Africa’s mining industry, the polity.org.za website reported.
Leon said that if South Africa were to embark on a Hugo Chavez-type Venezuelan course of socialism and expropriation of mineral rights without compensation, it would mean an upending of South Africa’s Constitutional settlement and investment in South Africa would “simply go out of the window”. Should the no-compensation plan of African National Congress Youth League president Julius Malema be arrogated, the country will not only be shooting itself in the foot, but it will also be shooting mineworkers’ retirement benefits in the foot, because mineworkers’ pension funds are widely invested in the JSE, added Leon, who co-heads Webber Wentzel’s mining practice group and co-chairs the International Bar Association mining law committee.
Mthembu said pronouncements by the ANCYL on matters such as the nationalisation of mines and land redistribution formed part of ongoing discussions within the ruling party. “These have already been shared at numerous political platforms, which include last year’s National General Council held in Durban.” Mthembu said the ANC had established the ANCYL as an integral part of the ANC and that it existed as an autonomous structure.
AgriSA and the Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU), representing SA’s commercial farmers, reacted angrily to Malema’s vow to “take land without payment”, warning of the dire food safety and foreign investor confidence consequences. The African Farmers Association of SA (Afasa), which represents emerging black farmers, said it wanted to work with the government and traditional white agricultural groups to create job security, employment and food security. “We are trying to find a way forward. A common, united voice from white and black farmers. We want to go to government with one voice and talk one language,” Afasa president Mike Mlengana told the South African Press Association.
“That language should be about the commercial viability of agricultural production in South Africa, so that we are both domestically efficient and so that we can compete globally. “We are for sustaining the economy, not destroying it,” said Mlengana. He did not want to comment specifically on Malema’s call for an end to the willing buyer, willing seller policy, but would rather stick with the land policy discussions it was already having with the government and other agricultural bodies.
“We can’t comment every time a politician says, ‘I will do that’, it can annoy and confuse the various stakeholders.”
AgriSA deputy president Theo de Jager was less diplomatic. “It is true that land reform has not worked… not for the beneficiaries, not for the farmers and not for government, but no-one has the guts to stand up and say it is because of the poor way it has been implemented by the land affairs department. “It is not the willing seller part that has failed, it is the willing buyer part, because it was the job of totally incapable and inexperienced youngsters to close deals to buy land.” De Jager said that some 30% of the country’s land was currently state-owned. “And that is the most unproductive and neglected land in our country. Why do they now want to go and mess with a sector in the economy that is creating jobs? What kind of democracy would expect 37 000 individual farmers to pick up the bill for land reform?”
TAU president Ben Marais described Malema’s comments as “insanity”. “I think it is scandalous that a person would make such comments, that so many people support him and that the government allows it. “Once a person starts making such insane comments, he sends out a message to the rest of the world that South Africa is going down the same path of Zimbabwe and that land ownership does not exist. It is this kind of talk that kills job creation on farms and mines,” added Marais.
Aggrey Mahanjana, chairman of the National Emergent Redmeat Producers Organisation, said he believed it would be “totally unfair” to take land without compensation. “We won’t support that. We still believe there are many ways of getting land to the black farmers without really injuring the current owners of land, whether black or white. “We don’t believe a farmer must hand over his land. That will be totally unfair,” Mahanjana told SAPA.
He said he requested a meeting on Monday morning with the government to ask it about Malema’s comments at the closing ceremony of the ANCYL conference on Sunday, where he was re-elected leader. Malema warned ruling party leaders they must either follow league policies — which included land grabs — or face removal from office. He has in the past accused whites of being criminals for stealing land.
Opposition Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille wrote on social networking site Twitter that she had received a wave of messages. Her reply: “I have rec’vd a tweet tsunami re Julius Malema. My response is: don’t worry. He will be a catalyst for the political re-alignment SA needs.” Deputy Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom tweeted on Saturday: “Whatever YL says, expropriation of land without compensation is not ANC policy, and along with many others, I’ll never support it. Never.”
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Sunday called for the debate around land reform to remain “within the Constitutional framework”.
Business Unity SA (BUSA) said government and business need to be clear about their stance on nationalisation if they want to grow South Africa’s economy. “The current tone of the public debate around the nationalisation of land, banks and the mining industry weakens South Africa’s ability to attract the direct investment — both local and foreign — which is required to grow South Africa’s economy,” the business body said in a statement.
Despite repeated assurances from President Jacob Zuma that nationalisation was not government nor ANC policy, “both government and business must now show much greater leadership and will to bring certainty to this issue as quickly as possible. It is inconsistent to be trying to create partnerships to implement a New Growth Path aimed at growing the economy at six percent per annum and creating five million new jobs in the midst of growing uncertainty,” BUSA said. “It is not conducive to the promotion of investor confidence.”