Southern Africa Resource watch and the Centre for Policy Studies organized a conference on the nationalization of mines which was attended by all political parties with the exception of the ruling party the ANC.
Could I warmly welcome all our guests to our conference? We have guests and invited participants from different organisations. I would like to welcome you all and specifically mention some of our guests who will be here with us today and tomorrow. Firstly, we have our guest speaker, Mr Floyd Shivambu. He is the National Spokesperson of African National Congress (ANC) Youth League.
I also want to mention Aubrey Matshiqi. Aubrey is a Senior Research Associate of the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). He is a well-known political commentator in South African politics as well as ANC poli•tics. Another one of our guest speakers is Mr Madoda Sambatha from the National Union of Mineworkers. These speakers are members of our panel from South Africa. We had invited more panellists from South Africa but, unfortunately, some of them pulled out due to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances.
One of the reasons why some of the invited panellists have pulled out is that there is a government summit on the same broad theme of mining taking place right now, around the formulation of a national policy framework for the mining sector in South Africa. Many of the prospective panellists for our conference have been called to participate at this government summit.
We also have with us today guests from outside of South Africa, from a number of selected fellow SADC countries. We have Dr Neo Simutanyi from Zambia, Mr Arnold Sibanda from Zimbabwe, Professor Nico Horn from Namibia, and Ms Albertina Delgado from Angola. Welcome to you all.
I would also want to welcome our colleagues from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), as well as the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). In particular I want to mention Mr Claude Kabemba, who is the Director of OSISA’s Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW). We have also invited a number of the major political parties from South Africa who will be making presentations on their positions regarding the mining sector.
The idea behind this conference is a sensitive subject in South Africa, and this is one of these debates that have created a great deal of public controversy. As result, many of the key people we have tried to invite, from our politics and our business sectors, were very reluctant to come and speak. As many of you know, the ANC Youth League started this debate by proposing that the mines in this country be nationalised.
That call has caused a great deal of excitement and support in some quarters, as well as a great deal of consternation and anxiety in others, in this country as well as abroad. Some commentators believe that this call was just a reflection of the current state of politics inside the ANC and its alliance partners. Others and I think President Zuma is one of them, believe that this is merely an academic exercise by the ANC Youth league President, Julius Malema. President Zuma has insisted that, while the Youth League is entitled to engage in these debates, this is not government policy. Factually, this is correct but that leaves a question unanswered. To state that the Youth League’s position is not government policy does not mean that it will not become government policy. This is one of the reasons why we believe we should have a debate like this.
We know that the Minister of Mineral Resources stated categorically that the nationalisation of the mines will happen over her dead body, and she was castigated for this. We do not want to dismiss the call by the Youth League as the minister did. There are important questions that we need to look at. For instance, what are the chances that this call by the ANC Youth League will become national policy, given the state of politics inside the ANC and its alliance partners? What does nationalisation mean? What does it entail in practice? What are the likely consequences, and who are likely to be the beneficiaries of such a policy?
There has been much media coverage of this call by the ANC Youth League, and speculation about why there is such a call at this particular time. As I have indicated, we have invited guest speakers from neighbouring countries as some of them have gone through this debate, while others have experienced actual cases of nationalisa•tion of mines. We believe we will gain from them sharing their experiences and lessons with us.