Number 33, 2nd Quarter 2010


Feature:  Woza 2010! Interview with Lucas Radebe

Debate:  Nationalisation of the mines

Transfer of mineral wealth to the ownership of the people - ANC Youth League
State ownership and the NDR; debating nationalization - Joel Netshitenzhe
The nationalization debate: another perspective - MZ Ngungunyane
Towards the nationalization of mines and monopoly industry - COSATU
Nationalisation - a response to Netshitenzhe - Floyd Shivambu
Towards a refined ANC minerals policy and strategy - Paul Jordaan

Current issues
Spotlight on provinces: Limpopo
Foundations of the developmental state, the case for engineering education - Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Advancing Alliance discussions on macro economic policy - Kenneth Creamer
55 years since the Congress of the People - Kgolane Alfred Rudolph Phala
Deconstructing the theory of National Democratic Revolution - Thando Ntlemeza
Freedom and development - Michael Sachs
A fallacious description: the ANC a multi class organization - Zwelinzima Sizani

Unity of the African people. Unity of the continent - President Jacob Zuma
Our key features of international policy - Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Implementating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan - Collins Chabane

On the problems of the youth movement  (1956) - Duma Nokwe
A life of its own - the autonomy of the ANC Youth League (1991)
Notes on the history of the Alliance - Eddie Maloka

Review:  Somaliland: an African struggle - Igbal D Jhazbhay


The views expressed in this edition of Umrabulo, do not necessarily reflect the views of the ANC or of the Editorial Collective.

Call for contributions
Umrabulo welcomes contributions from readers. Contributions may be in response to previous articles or may raise new issues. Contributions may be sent to the address below.

Editorial Collective
Editor-in-Chief: Tony Yengeni
Editor: Fébé Potgieter-Gqubule
Joel Netshitenzhe
Dina Pule
Naledi Pandor
Naph Manana
Donovan Cloete

Contact Information
Address: Umrabulo, PO Box 61884, Marshalltown, 2107, South Africa
Telephone: 086 717 7077
Fax: 086 633 1437

EDITORIAL:  Woza 2010...woza!

Finally the World Cup is here, in Africa! We are left with just few weeks before this major footballing spectacle explodes in front of an enthusiastic audience of billions of spectators the world over. The levels of expectations are approaching fever pitch! There is general excitement in the air!

This issue of Umrabulo is dedicated to the FIFA 2010 Football World Cup on our native soil, our contribution to the general atmosphere towards the World Cup and our nation’s support for our team Bafana Bafana.

Umrabulos interview with football icon, Lucas `Rhoo" Radebe is an interesting piece of work and Rhoo unmistakably calls upon all South Africans to fall in behind our national heroes, and our glorious team Bafana Bafana.

Fifty-five years after the adoption of the Freedom Charter at Kliptown on June 26, 1956 it remains a living document. The raging public debate on the nationalisation of our mines – mooted in the Freedom Charter – and this year lead by the ANC Youth League has finally entered the pages of our official organ Umrabulo. This is the rightful place and platform for this debate. And judging by the interest and response to the Youth League discussion paper it is patently clear this indeed is a necessary debate.

We call upon all ANC members to read on and not only respond but also write new and fresh articles to Umrabulo and extend the horizons of debate on crucial political and social issues that matter to our people. This is your space, your own ANC platform, use it and ensure that ANC politics and thinking are heard by not only ANC members but by the general populace.

We wish you all a pleasant and exciting time during the World Cup. Enjoy yourselves. All South Africans and ANC members in particular must act as our country’s ambassadors during this period of the World Cup.  All the guests and visitors to our country must feel welcome to our beautiful shores and must enjoy themselves…

Let us all be clear that the peoples organization, the African National Congress and its leadership and all its structures in every corner of this Republic, is behind and fully supports the team of young lions - our national team Bafana Bafana!

Long Live the Glorious Peoples team Bafana Bafana..Long Live!



2010 is finally here!  Umrabulo Editor-in-Chief Tony Yengeni interviewed Lucas Radebe, former Bafana Captain on the eve of the World Cup.

Tony Yengeni:  As a football icon in our country what in your mind is the key significance of the Word Cup being hosted by African nation like ours? 

Lucas Radebe: I believe that this is a major opportunity for us to show the world that an African nation is capable of successfully hosting the world’s biggest sporting event. 

Yengeni:  As the former captain of our national team Bafana Bafana are you convinced that our boys are ready to face some of the best soccer teams in the world in this once in a life time tournament?

Radebe:  I think there is some work to be done but when the time comes the boys will be ready and they will rise to the occasion. 

Yengeni:  What is your true feeling about the fact that this opportunity came only after you and other pioneers of this national squad had left the playing scene?  

Radebe:  Everything happens in it`s time. Just as we had the opportunity to win the Nations Cup on home soil in 1996 so too this group will play on African soil in the World Cup. I was also fortunate enough to represent Bafana at two World Cup events in France and South Korea/Japan so I can`t have any complaints. 

Yengeni:  The scoring of goals or rather the lack thereof is one of main challenges facing the current Bafana Bafana squad. What needs to be done to remedy this situation? 

Radebe:  Goalscoring is a habit, and once our strikers get the confidence it will come. Also, we need to be working on creating more opportunities. The more chances we create the better and eventually the goals will come. We can`t blame the strikers for not scoring if they are not getting service.

Yengeni:  But why can’t our Bafana strikers shoot straight?  

Radebe: I really feel there is not a lack of talent. Goal-scoring comes with practice so we need to spend more time developing this ability in our strikers.

Yengeni:  Do you think that the current coach Carlos Parreira has the wherewithal to take the squad to the next round? 

Radebe: He has a lot of experience and knowledge of the game at the highest level to do the job. At the end of the day though it is up to the 11 men on the pitch to perform. 

Yengeni:  What if Bafana Bafana does not go to the next round? What impact will that have for the duration of the World Cup? 

Radebe:  It will be very disappointing for us as the host nation, but the excitement of the World Cup will go on as we have the best teams in the world trying to claim the biggest prize in world sport. 

Yengeni:  Our Bafana Bafana boys have home ground advantage, how should they use this to maximum advantage? 

Radebe:  The boys will be well accustomed to local conditions, not only underfoot but also playing at altitude will help us. At this level every possible advantage counts and we need to maximise our knowledge of local conditions and make the most of it. 

Yengeni: Do you think that the Madiba magic will come in handy for the boys? 

Radebe:  There is no question that it helped us in the past. Madiba is an inspiration and icon and there is no doubt that he has the ability to help us raise our game. 

Yengeni:  Who do you predict will win the Word Cup? 

Radebe:  I think it`s quite open but for me Brazil and Spain are the favourites. I think England also has a chance.

Yengeni: What will the hosting of the World Cup in South Africa do to enhance our football heritage? 

Radebe: It will give us the opportunity to boost local football. Being the first African country to host this event is a major feather in our cap. Hopefully we can use this event as motivation to reclaim our place as a top African football nation. 

Yengeni: Can you kindly make a special call to all South Africans black and white to go out and support Bafana Bafana in their numbers?  

Radebe:  South Africans of all backgrounds have always come together to support our national teams. Whether it was the Nations Cup in 1996 or the Rugby World Cup, South Africans have the ability to rise to the occasion.

Now that we are hosting the biggest event on our soil, all South Africans should come together to support not only our team but the event as a whole, and show the entire world what a wonderful country and people we have here on the tip of Africa.


A discussion paper of the ANC Youth League, February 2010

The African National Congress (ANC) will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Freedom Charter in 2010 and turn 100 years in 2012. These anniversaries coincide with the ANC National General Council in 2010 and National Conference in 2012, but most significantly represent significant periods in the growth, political and ideological development of the African National Congress. These anniversaries should serve to give practical meaning and coherent actualisation of the Freedom Charter, which has since its adoption, inspired hope for the majority of the people of South Africa. This discussion document is thematic and intended at influencing a concrete resolution on the nationalisation of mines in South Africa in line with the Freedom Charter`s objective of the people sharing in the country`s wealth. The document is aware that various other strategic sectors of the economy should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, but specifically focuses on the transfer of Mineral wealth to the ownership and benefit of the people as a whole.

The attainment of the Freedom Charter objectives remains the strategic objective of the African National Congress. The Freedom Charter`s clause on the people sharing in the country's wealth states,

"The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people; all people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions". (1)

It is against this background upon which a concrete position on the nationalisation of mines is formulated in order to guide the ANC in the transfer of mineral wealth beneath the soil to the ownership and benefit of the people as a whole. This is to ensure that the "use of natural resources of which the state is the custodian of on behalf of the people, including our minerals, water, marine resources in a manner that promotes the sustainability and development of local communities and also realises the economic and social needs of the whole nation" (2), as resolved in the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress in December 2007.

This document serves as a guiding framework to outline the ANC government`s transfer of Mineral wealth and the actual process of extraction, processing, beneficiation and trade of mineral resources. For such a task, the document will do the following:

  1. provide a conceptual foundation on the kind of nationalisation advocated for in the document;
  2. provide information on the state of minerals resources and mining in South Africa;
  3. provide a brief political foundation within which Mines should be nationalized;
  4. illustrate the Freedom Charter as a foundation of the objective to nationalise mines;
  5. provide and outline a case for nationalisation in South Africa; and
  6. identify and clarify possible challenges to the nationalisation of mines.

This document derives lessons from various other models and attempts of ensuring that common ownership of strategic resources benefit the entire population. Whilst learning from these experiences, the intention is not to blindly copy what happened in other countries, sectors, situations and periods, but to present a unique compelling case for South Africa. Emphasis is once more placed that this is not a broad economic transformation perspective. The perspective specifically focuses on the nationalisation of mines, and acutely aware that other strategic sectors of the economy, such as banks and monopoly industries should be publicly controlled to benefit the people as a whole. The massive poverty challenges, unemployment and unequal spatial development realities calls for an urgent focus on mineral resources.


Before we consider the question of nationalising mines, it will be important to begin by outlining the meaning of nationalisation in the context of this perspective. NATIONALISATION OF MINES means the democratic government`s ownership and control of mining activities, including exploration, extraction, production, processing, trading and beneficiation of mineral resources in South Africa. Minerals resources refer to all the more than 50 non-renewable precious, industrial and chemical stones extracted from mines in South Africa. This includes gold, the platinum group of metals, chrome, coal, manganese, diamond, copper, metals, aluminum, etc. The democratic government`s ownership and control should happen through a democratic, open and decisive legislation of Parliament, which will ensure that all mineral wealth is used for the benefit of the people, for development and the growth of South Africa`s economic activities. This understanding of nationalisation of mines include the following vital components:

Firstly, nationalisation is not a be-all and end-all of economic transformation. In other words, having nationalised key parts of the economy does not automatically mean that indeed the entire wealth is in the hands of the people and that the people will benefit from such wealth. Nationalisation is not a panacea for South Africa`s developmental challenges, but it should in the manner we propose, entail democratising the commanding heights of the economy, to ensure they are not only legally owned by the state, but democratised and controlled by the people - in their workplaces, their management, and decision-making. The role of the revolutionary trade union movement and progressive professionals is critical in this regard.

Secondly, nationalisation should be accompanied by thorough transformation of state-owned enterprises. Much of the existing state-owned enterprises (SOE`s) have to be democratised and further transformed to such indeed benefit the people as a whole. In this context, the model of heavily bureaucratised nationalised enterprises is not attractive, neither is the existing SOE`s corporatist model, which tend to operate on similar values and principles as a private company.

Thirdly, nationalisation should help build strategic capacity of the state to unlock resources for more inclusive development and growth and a growth path that does not overly rely on the export of primary commodities and the import of almost all consumer goods and services. The strategic capacity of the state through public ownership enables the state to lead other sectors to achieve these broader societal goals. The kind of nationalisation proposed is not generalised nationalisation, even of industries that are of no strategic importance. The most strategic industries tend to be largely monopoly industries, but it is debatable if public ownership should be limited to this sector.

Fourthly, nationalisation like its opposite privatisation, can assume various forms: it can be 100% public ownership, or 51% or more owned by the state, or established through partnership arrangements with the private sector in which the state assume greater control. The sections below will outline the concrete models to be taken in the immediate as a programme of nationalisation of mines.

Fifthly, depending on the merits of each case and based on a ‘balance of evidence, nationalisation may involve expropriation with or without compensation. The manner in which nationalisation will be approached should neither be generalised compensation, nor generalised expropriation without compensation. Expropriation without compensation should apply to mines that are not profitable, who are laying off huge numbers of workers and are in financial crisis.

Finally, nationalisation is not meant to bail out indebted capitalists, who because of the financial crisis are loosing profits due to declining consumption and demand of commodities. Depending on the merits of each case, it may involve expropriation with or without compensation. In any event, it will be pointless to nationalise a mine that is barren simply because it is a mine. Consideration of the strategic importance and the potential of a mine to contribute towards the development of the national productive forces will have to be brought to bear.

The call for nationalisation is a principled one, not based on whether global commodity prices are up or down. Our call is based on strategic considerations, the need to empower the democratic state to direct the development of our economy through direct control of resource allocation to priority sectors, the need to increase the capacity of the state to directly earn foreign exchange and to significantly stabilise the revenue side of public finances.


The discovery of minerals in South Africa heralded one of the most dynamic periods in the development of capitalism in South Africa. The discovery of the Witwatersrand goldfields in 1886 was a turning point in the history of South Africa. It presaged the emergence of the modern South African industrial state. The most brutal and fatal wars of conquest and resistance were intensified after the discovery of minerals in South Africa. The hardening of racial attitudes that accompanied the rise of a more militant colonial conquest coincided locally with the watershed discovery of mineral riches in the interior of southern Africa. The history of how Africans were coerced into wage labour through tax, abduction and forced labour defines how African communities were disorganised because of the discovery and extraction of minerals in South Africa. The emergence of the City Johannesburg and Kimberley, the development of railway and various other sophisticated transport infrastructures in South Africa, and the corresponding growth of shanty towns are all linked to the development of mining sector.

From the mid 19th century onwards, South Africa developed to discover many other mineral resources. The department of Mining`s South Africa`s Mineral Industry 2007/08 booklet says that, "South Africa is a leading world supplier of a range of minerals and mineral products of consistently high quality. In 2005, about 55 different minerals were produced from 1 113 mines and quarries, whereon which 45 produced gold, 26 produced platinum-group minerals, 64 produced coal and 202 produced diamonds, all as primary commodities, with an increase of 120 mines from 2004" (3).

South Africa is home to vital and amongst the most diversified minerals reserves in world, and this includes platinum group of metals (70%), gold (40%), manganese (70%), chromium (70%) and 54 other minerals. Such advantage can never be subjected to the whims and directives of a few investors elsewhere at the expense of local economic development. This in itself gives South Africa a strategic advantage to marshal the development of the economy, particularly industry around the minerals resources beneath its soil.

South Africa, like most of the other countries in the SADC region, is highly dependent on minerals. Since the late 19th century, South Africa`s economy has been based on the production and export of minerals, which, in turn, have contributed significantly to the country`s skewed industrial development. Most industries that developed are interlinked with the supply side of the mining industry, with little diversification away from mining. In 1952 trade union organiser Solly Sachs noted that, "it is abundantly clear to anyone who has the welfare of South Africa at heart that the future of the people and the whole country depends on extensive and intensive industrial development, and that the mining of precious minerals can serve the interests of the country only as a stimulus for the development of other branches of the national economy." Yet, he concluded, "it has always been the policy of the Chamber of Mines to subordinate the entire economic life of the country to the selfish interests of the mine owners" (4).

The Encyclopedia of Nations notes the reality that as "one of the largest and most diverse mineral producers, South Africa is the largest producer and exporter of chromium and vanadium; the leading producer of gold, gem diamonds, ferrochromium, platinum (88% of world reserve base of platinum-group metals), manganese (80% of world reserve base of ore), and synthetic liquid fuels and petrochemicals derived from coal. South Africa is the second-largest producer of antimony (8% of world output) and titanium (third-largest exporter); the third-largest exporter of coal; and a major producer of cobalt, copper, iron ore, lead, nickel, silver, uranium, zinc, zirconium, aggregate and sand, andalusite (aluminum silicate), asbestos, dimension stone, fluorspar, lime, limestone, phosphate rock, sulphur, and vermiculite. South Africa was self-sufficient in the vast majority of its mineral needs, the bulk of which were produced in the northern half of the country. South Africa is among the top five countries in terms of minerals reserves, ranking first in reserves of andalusite, chromites, gold, manganese, PGMs, and vanadium. De Beers, the South African mining giant, accounted for 94% of the country`s diamond production and controlled 80% of the world`s uncut diamond trade" (5).

In 2007, mining contributed R135,6 billion ($19,2 billion) or 7,7 percent to the gross domestic product, an increase of R16,2 billion over the previous year. Mining and quarrying contributed 8,9 percent to total fixed capital formation. South Africa`s total primary mineral sales revenue increased by 15,2 percent to R223,9 billion in 2007. When the total sales and export sales are expressed in US dollars, the annual increases were 10,5 percent (from $28,7 billion to $ 31,7 billion), and 10,6 percent (from $20,7 billion to $22,9 billion) respectively. The major foreign revenue earners in 2007 were the platinum-group metals (40,8 percent), followed by gold (22,2 percent) and coal (15,1 percent) (6).

Domestic mineral sales value increased by 11,7 percent to R62,1 billion in 2007, when expressed in dollar terms, the increase was much higher at 25,6 percent to $10,3 billion. The major local income earner for the year was the metallic commodities at 43,3 percent, followed by coal at 31,7 percent and miscellaneous mineral commodities at 12,7 percent, while industrial commodities accounted for 12,6 percent of local sales value.

The mining industry, excluding exploration, research and development structures and head offices staff, employed 2,9 percent of South Africa`s economically active population, or 5,1 percent of all workers in the non-agricultural formal sectors of the economy. The average number of workers employed in the mining industry increased by 8,6 percent to 495 474 in 2007, as a result of expansion projects. Wage income amounted to R50,09 billion in 2007, or 22,4 percent of total mining revenue, an increase in nominal terms of 28,5 percent compared with that of 2006 (7).

Democratic change in South Africa during the 1990s resulted in the endorsement of the principles of private enterprise within a free-market system, offering equal opportunities for all the people. The state`s influence within the mineral industry is confined to orderly regulation and the promotion of equal opportunity for all citizens. Discriminatory policies excluded a large sector of the population from full participation in the South African minerals industry during the pre-1994 period. The new Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), legislates the official policy concerning the exploitation of the country`s minerals. The restructuring of the South African economy and changing local and international circumstances were taken into consideration by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), which drafted the new Act.

The Act addresses many issues, including the following:

Previously South African mineral rights were owned either by the state or the private sector. This dual ownership system represented an entry barrier to potential new investors. The current Government`s objective is for all mineral rights to be vested in the State, with due regard to constitutional ownership rights and security of tenure. The MPRDA was also designed to release the monopoly stranglehold of five mining investment houses and allow entry by the aspirant black middle class into the mining industry. Thus instead of benefiting the population as a whole this limited ‘nationalization` has benefited only a small comprador elite. This elite has entered mining in alliance with financial and mining interests from the USA, Canada, Australia, Russia and China, basically countering the noble intentions of the MPRDA.

The MPRDA does not put the state in a position to determine the use of natural resources. In other words, once those with licenses begin to operate, there is nothing that stops them from selling our mineral wealth to the highest bidder in global markets, even if national imperatives require that such resources be used to support national development. This point under-scores the perspective that this document advances-that the democratic state should directly own and control the production and use of raw minerals in order to guarantee the flow of resources to critical sectors in our economy, not in order to maximize profit as the current holders of licenses do. South Africa needs, for example, A-grade coal to generate electricity with lesser pollution in the short to medium term. Yet, such high quality coal has already been sold forward and will continue to be sold to the highest bidder, in the global commodity market.


The perspective on the nationalisation of the mines is understood within the context of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), which seeks to resolve the national, gender and class contradictions through the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, and the emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular. The emancipation of the African majority fundamentally means that they should be capable and empowered to be at the cutting edge and control of the development of the national forces of production. The most direct route through which this can be achieved, within the framework of deepening nation-building and maintaining the unity of the motive forces of our revolution, is through democratic state ownership and control of the strategic sectors of the South African economy.

The perspective is further located within the context of the Strategy & Tactics of the African National Congress adopted at the 52nd National Conference in 2007, which in analysing the balance of forces says, "overall, since 1994, the balance of forces has shifted in favour of the forces of change. It provides the basis for speedier implementation of programmes to build a truly democratic and prosperous society. The legal and policy scaffolding for this is essentially in place. Most of society wants this to happen" (9). It may also be added that the global crisis of imperialism has exposed the bankruptcy of the ideology of market forces as a supreme arbiter in the trade-offs associated with resource allocation. On this basis, the relevance of state activity in the economy has occupied centre-stage. The combined occurrence of the global crisis of capitalism and the veritable shift in the balance of forces as pointed out by the ANC cannot go to waste. It is opportune time to deepen the economic transformation implied by the national democratic revolution.

Elements of the understanding of a "prosperous society" are contained in the Freedom Charter. The ANC adopted the Freedom Charter in 1956 and hoisted it as a beacon of hope for the people of South Africa. The South African Congress Trade Unions (SACTU, the forbearer of COSATU) in 1955 endorsed the process towards the adoption of the Freedom Charter. In 1962, the South African Communist Party`s political programme, the Road to South African Freedom (10) said, "The main aims and lines of the South African democratic revolution have been defined in the Freedom Charter, which has been endorsed by the African National Congress and the other partners in the national liberation alliance", and further that "The Communist Party pledges its unqualified support for the Freedom Charter". The SACP 1962 programme declared its unqualified support to the Freedom Charter with an understanding that firstly, "the Freedom Charter is not a programme for socialism" and secondly, the immediate programme for the Communist Party included, "demanding the nationalisation of the mining industry, banking and monopoly industrial establishments, thus also laying the foundations for the advance to socialism". The Freedom Charter also guided the Mass Democratic Movement in the struggle to emancipate the black majority and Africans in particular from social and economic bondage.

In engaging the perspective on nationalisation of mines, all revolutionaries, activists and members of the revolutionary movement that adhere to the National Democratic Revolution should, as Dialego cautioned, avoid "the tendency to overestimate the strength of the enemy so that the superficial appearances of the moment are mistaken for the deeper trends at work in historical reality. Indeed, legalistic illusions which stem from an insufficiently dialectical approach to politics, may even lead to the kind of unprincipled compromises which make short term gains, but weaken the movement as a whole" (11). We certainly should ground the perspective on revolutionary theory, so that practice is not detached from our theoretical perspectives. The aim remains the attainment of the Freedom Charter vision and what happens after that is completely a different question.

The nationalisation of mines also happens within a context where the ANC is the legitimate and legal leader not only of government and the state, but of the South African society, Southern Africa Region and the African continent. Various other nations in the world look up to South Africa for leadership, innovation and readiness to break new ground. Despite the minor and insignificant, but necessary components of healthy political opposition, an absolute majority of South Africans accepts and appreciates the ANC`s leadership of the state, government and society. Consequently, the people of South Africa have legitimate expectations on what the ANC can and should do to better their lives.

It is also important to highlight the fact that global markets have also penetrated the strategic sectors of the South African economy. The move to nationalise mines is bound to elicit some imperialist backlash. This calls upon the democratic movement to galvanise the majority of our people to stand ready to defend the revolutionary resolution that the movement will take on this matter. This is not just a matter of debits and credits in the capital account; it is more a matter of politics and the balance of forces in the struggle. It is a question of giving coherent economic meaning to the concept of national emancipation.


The Freedom Charter is a document of the people of South Africa, hoisted by the ANC, SACP, COSATU, COSAS, SASCO, SANCO and all Mass Democratic Movement formations as the torchbearer that should lead South Africa to total political, social and economic emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular. To the progressive Mass Democratic Movement, the Freedom Charter is a direct result of the two ANC Conferences before 1955 and a subsequent intensive, nation-wide consultative process led by the entire Congress movement with the people of South Africa. The Freedom Charter is therefore an expression of the social, political and economic will of South Africans, not personal intellectual property of the people who participated in its formulation.

The Freedom Charter was proposed by the Cape ANC region and a direct resolution of the ANC 42nd National Conference resolution in 1953, which instructed the National Executive Committee of the ANC, "to make immediate preparations for the organisation of a CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE OF S.A." whose task shall be to work out a "FREEDOM CHARTER" for all peoples and groups in the country (12).

The resolution on the Freedom Charter was re-affirmed in the ANC 43rd National Conference in 1954, which said "This Conference declares its unqualified support for the great Congress of the People sponsored by the National Organisations of this country. In this connection Conference enjoins all National Organisations, Church movements and associations to support, join in and participate in the great Campaign for the calling of the mighty Congress of the People having as its aim the drawing up of a Freedom Charter embodying the aspirations of the people of South Africa for a future free, united, multi-national, democratic community in which oppression and exploitation will be a thing of the past" (13).

The authentic Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter on the 26th of June 1955 in Kliptown in what is hailed as the greatest moment in the history of the National Liberation Movement in South Africa. Nelson Mandela says that "the intensive and nation-wide political campaigning that preceded it, the 2,844 elected delegates of the people that attended, the attention it attracted far and wide and the favourable comment it continues to receive at home and abroad from people of divers political opinions and beliefs long after its adoption, are evidence of this fact" (14). The Freedom Charter heralded a heroic and dedicated struggle for the emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular, and united all progressive forces against apartheid repression, oppression and exploitation. To this day, the clearest expression of the alliance`s common programme is the Freedom Charter.

Although adopted a year later, the ANC National Executive Committee report to the ANC 44th National Conference in 1955 said, "The Freedom Charter is the sum total of our aspirations, but more: it is the road to the new life. It is the uniting creed of all the people struggling for democracy and for their rights; the mirror of the future South Africa. The defeat of the Nationalists and the course of the Congress movement depend on every fighter for freedom grasping fully the meaning and significance, and the purpose of the Freedom Charter" (15). Notably, the Freedom Charter was extensively deliberated upon in the 1956 Congress and faced fierce opposition from within the African National Congress, not only as a policy perspective, but the ultimate strategic objective of the African National Congress.

Writing about the Freedom Charter in 1956, Nelson Mandela said. "Never before has any document or conference been so widely acclaimed and discussed by the democratic movement in South Africa. Never before has any document or conference constituted such a serious and formidable challenge to the racial and anti-popular policies of the country" (16). In the ANC 44th National Conference in 1955, the National Executive Committee said, "The Charter is no patchwork collection of demands, no jumble of reforms" (17). Writing about the Freedom Charter in 1956, Nelson Mandela says, "The Charter is more than a mere list of demands for democratic reforms. It is a revolutionary document precisely because the changes it envisages cannot be won without breaking up the economic and political set-up of present South Africa".

Various historical narrations point to the reality that the Freedom Charter is a product of intensive campaigns and engagement with the people of South Africa. The ANC NEC report to the 44th National Conference says that the Freedom Charter was adopted with "one million signatures: 450,000 in the Transvaal; 350,000 in the Cape; 150,000 in Natal; and 50,000 in the Free State". The million signatures appended to the Freedom Charter happened within a population of 12,5 million people in South Africa at the time. This illustrates the weight the Freedom Charter has and no one could ever think of undermining or misinterpreting the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter belongs to the people of South Africa and this will not change anytime soon.

To signify the vitality of the Freedom Charter in the African National Congress, the 1958 Constitution of the ANC declared the Charter as one of the ANC`s aims and objectives. Under aims and objects, the 1958 ANC Constitution commits the ANC, "to strive for the attainment of universal adult suffrage and the creation of a united democratic South Africa on the principles outlined in the Freedom Charter" (18). The ANC Constitution adopted in the 1991 National Conference reaffirms the same principle in saying that the aims and objectives of the ANC shall be "To end apartheid in all its forms and transform South Africa as rapidly as possible into a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic country based on the principles of the Freedom Charter" (19). Since 1991, the ANC compels all its members to sign a declaration upon joining the organisation to solemnly declare to "abide by the aims and objectives of the ANC as set out in the Constitution and the Freedom Charter". What this means is that all members of the ANC currently joined the ANC to amongst other things, fulfill the principles of the Freedom Charter. All ANC Constitutions since, including the 2007 Constitution, re-affirms the principles of the Freedom Charter as aims and objectives of the ANC and obliges all members to abide by the Charter upon joining the African National Congress.

The vitality of the Freedom Charter in the Congress movement cannot be over-emphasised because it occupies a special space in the movement. The Freedom Charter is the lifeblood of the Congress Movement. Any attempt to replace it as a strategic vision has the potential to turn the Congress alliance into a myopic formation. It is not only the replacement of the Freedom Charter which will impact on the ideological character of the Congress movement, but also attempts and actions that seek to give it a liberal interpretation.


In the ANC, "transfer of mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks to the ownership of the people as a whole" was correctly understood as nationalisation, if the government that nationalises can justly claim authority and is based on the will of the people. In the aftermath of the ANC`s adoption of the Freedom Charter, it recurrently affirmed "transfer of ownership to the people as a whole" as amounting to a legitimate government`s control and ownership of the commanding heights of the economy or nationalisation.

In 1955, the revolutionary ANC secretary general, Walter Sisulu said that, " it [The Freedom Charter] is the basic law of our liberatory movement, a declaration of principles uniting all the people in our land, except for the few reactionaries, who see in the Charter the end of their long established domination and exploitation. The Charter is the picture of future South Africa, in which oppression and exploitation shall be no more" (20).

Responding to a critique of the Freedom Charter by Jordan K. Ngubane, who was against the economic clause of the Freedom Charter, President Albert Luthuli said in June 1956 that, "in modern society, even amongst the so-called capitalistic countries, nationalisation of certain industries and commercial undertakings has become an accepted and established fact. Only the uninitiated and ignorant would suggest that the Union of South Africa is going to Moscow because its Railways, Broadcasting and Post Office services are nationalised" (21). President Luthuli further illustrated that nationalisation as called for in South Africa and in the Freedom Charter did not amount to the Moscow style command economy, and this point is categorically stated in the July 2009 ANC YL`s conceptual basis on nationalisation.

Again in 1956, Nelson Mandela said, "It is true that in demanding the nationalisation of the banks, the gold mines and the land the Charter strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold-mining monopolies and farming interests that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude. But such a step is absolutely imperative and necessary because the realisation of the Charter is inconceivable, in fact impossible, unless and until these monopolies are first smashed up and the national wealth of the country turned over to the people" (22). There is absolutely no confusion on the understanding the leadership of the ANC had of the Freedom Charter, and contemporary interpretations should not confuse us.

Former ANC President Oliver Tambo said in the 1969 political report of the National Executive Committee to the National Consultative Conference in Morogoro that, "At the moment there are vast monopolies whose existence affects the livelihood of large numbers of our people and whose ownership is in the hands of Europeans only. It is necessary for monopolies which vitally affect the social well-being of our people such as the mines, the sugar and wine industry to be transferred to public ownership so that they can be used to uplift the life of all the people" (23). In his first public address after release from prison, former President Nelson Mandela said, "nationalisation of the mines, banks and monopoly industry is the policy of the ANC and a change or modification of our view in this regard is inconceivable" (24). Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Chief Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela played critical roles in the consultation for the Freedom Charter and adoption by the ANC, and they could not be mistaken.

In 1955, South Africa`s economy was monumentally dependant on the extraction, production and trade of mineral resources. Minerals beneath the soil, whilst prospectively useful, cannot be shared amongst the people because they are beneath the soil, not extracted, produced and traded. The only reasonable way to ensure that the people share in the country`s wealth through transfer of mineral wealth beneath the soil to the ownership of the people as a whole had to necessarily happen through extraction, production, trade and beneficiation of these minerals. Reducing the "transfer ownership of mineral wealth beneath the soil" as literally referring to controlling of mineral rights is totally disingenuous and dishonest, and squarely falls within the liberal interpretation of what the Freedom Charter envisages.


Whilst the Freedom Charter says the democratic government should transfer minerals wealth beneath the soil to the ownership of the people as a whole, such cannot be the only reason why nationalisation should be pursued in the current context. Various reasons added to the Freedom Charter exist on why nationalisation of mines in South Africa ought to happen in the current economic and political conjuncture. These include but are not limited to the following reasons: (a) nationalisation to increase the state`s fiscal capacity and better the working conditions; (b) nationalisation as a basis for industrialization; (c) nationalisation as a means to safeguard sovereignty; (d) nationalisation as a basis to transform the accumulation path in the South African economy; and (e) nationalisation to transform South Africa`s unequal spatial development patterns. These reasons are equally important and should be concurrently pursued in the same manner the National Democratic Revolution seeks to concurrently resolve the national, class and gender contradictions.

(i) Nationalisation to increase the State`s fiscal capacity and ensure better the working conditions

The government revenue that is generated from taxes will not be able to build better lives for all South Africans. Government cannot solely rely on taxes to deliver better services to our people. South African will not be able to deal with the housing backlog, free education, better healthcare, safety and security, employment of particularly youth if we are not in control of the key and strategic sectors of the South African economy. The wealth of South Africa should benefit all who live in it.

Botswana presents a case on why nationalisation of strategic minerals can benefit the South African state. In Botswana, the state is in a 50% partnership with De Beers in a mining joint venture called Debswana Diamond Company Ltd. Debswana was formed as the De Beers Botswana Mining Company on June 23, 1969, after De Beers geologists identified diamond-bearing deposits at Orapa in the 1960s. Over the next five years, the government of Botswana increased its ownership stake from an original 15% to a full 50%. In 1991, the company changed names to Debswana Diamond Company Ltd and moved its headquarters to Gaborone.

Diamond mining activities have fuelled much of the growth in Botswana`s economy, allowing it to grow from one of the poorest countries in the world when it became independent in 1966 to a "middle income" nation, with $9,200 per capita income in 2004. Largely because of this, Botswana is considered by two major investment services to be the safest credit risk in Africa. Diamonds account for one third of the nation`s GDP, over 90% of earnings from exports, and 50% of government revenues. Debswana is the largest non-government employer in the country, employing approximately 6,300 people, over 93% who are Botswana citizens. Debswana is also the largest earner of foreign currency (25).

Despite the 50% government ownership and control, Debswana pays taxes and royalties to the Botswana government. The Botswana government utilises the revenue generated from diamond mining to finance its socio-economic development, particularly the education of Botswana students in and outside the country. Whilst characterised by various other control and management weaknesses, the Botswana model of ownership and benefiting from its mineral resources is an important lesson, which should be considered in South Africa`s transfer of minerals wealth to the ownership of the people as a whole.

In South Africa, De Beers complies to the MPRDA provisions of 30% of its shares and control being controlled by historically disadvantaged individuals. The weakness with South Africa`s share model is that it benefits few individuals instead of large communities and the people as a whole. Whilst the intention to integrate historically disadvantaged individuals into mining is noble, it should not be pursued at the expense of the entire population and communities. The principle should forever be people sharing in the country`s wealth. How such should be realised will be explained in detail below.

It is an open secret that ordinary workers in mines are the least beneficiaries of mining in South Africa either as recipients of salaries and stakeholders in mining. Mineworkers in South Africa are underpaid and work under difficult and unsafe conditions. Their workplaces and socio-economic existence expose these workers to fatal diseases and accidents. Nationalised mines should be beacons of safer working environments and better working conditions, as they will not be in narrow pursuit of profits at the expense of community and human development.

(i) Nationalise to industrialise and create more jobs

The ANC 52nd National Conference says that the "creation of decent work opportunities [should be] the primary focus of economic policies" (26). Conference further committed to transform structures of production and ownership, including through an "active and well-resourced industrial and trade policy aimed at creating decent work through expansion of labour absorbing sectors, diversifying our industrial and services base, pursuing an active beneficiation strategy, building sustainable export industries, and expanding production for domestic and regional consumption". This is vital because the massive challenges of poverty and underdevelopment of our communities are somewhat dynamically and directly linked to the lack of jobs in South Africa. In line with the Conference resolutions and 2009 ANC Elections Manifesto, the nationalisation of mines should be directed towards higher levels of labour-absorption.

With state ownership and control of mineral resources, South Africa will be able to attract industrial investors, who will contribute to the growth of the economy, transfer skills, education and expertise to locals and give them sustainable jobs. It cannot be correct that an absolute majority of the minerals we produce is exported to other countries, with very little efforts to build internal capacity to beneficiate these minerals. Nationalisation of mines should lead to greater local beneficiation, industrialisation, growth of the economy and jobs for majority of our people. The industrial strategy adopted by government cannot succeed unless we have state control and ownership of the natural resources. We need metals, iron ore, gold, platinum, coal, chrome, manganese and many other minerals to industrialise. South Africa`s skills development efforts should be dynamically (not exclusively) linked to the industrialisation of minerals wealth.

South Africa also needs to produce more cheaper and affordable energy for the benefit of our communities and also attract more investors who will use our energy capacity. Coal is necessary in this aspect and we should be in control and ownership of majority of coal mining in South Africa. The state should directly link energy production in ESKOM with coal mining, so that the state-owned and controlled coal mining company directly provides coal to ESKOM. This should undercut the hustles of the present coal-mining corporations, who are always ready to qualitatively and quantitatively under-supply ESKOM in pursuit of bigger profits outside the country.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) attributes the levels of mass unemployment in South Africa to two factors: "insufficiency in the rate of output growth" and "declining labour intensity of production in the formal economy", (Pollin et al, 2006: 67). The UNDP further argues that economic growth was not sufficient to keep up with the growing population, particularly as it relates to job creation. Secondly, the UNDP illustrates that the number of workers utilised per output... fell by an average of four percent between 1967 and 2001 (Pollin et al, 2006: 68). After making these observations, the UNDP projected that if South Africa proceeds along this approximate growth pattern for the next decade, it is estimated (using a series of reasonable assumptions about labour force growth and the ratio of informal/formal employment) that official unemployment will have risen to roughly 33 percent as of 2014" (Pollin et al, 2006: 17).

There are very strong elements of truth in the UNPD study of massive unemployment patterns in South Africa, which should really shape developmental thinking and planning over the next few years. This is not to underestimate other interventions proposed, but to highlight the fact that although there is a rigorous commitment to public infrastructural investment and skills acquisition within the developmental state trajectory, the point about employment creation and poverty reduction has been missed. Most of the employment opportunities that are state propelled through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) are largely in the construction sector. Inevitably, a huge number of jobs in the construction sector are low quality and unsustainable.

To effectively and practically address these challenges, (the) majority of South Africa`s employment should be derived from labour-absorptive and commodity producing economic activities that are linked to areas of our economic strength. The strength of the South African economy can be derived from the country`s potential control of strategic minerals` reserves such as platinum group metals, manganese, chrome, aluminum, gold and coal. South Africa government`s ownership and control of these strategic minerals, whilst dynamically linked to the world economy, can be used as attraction of industrial, instead of extracting investors. The labour-absorption potential of minerals processing and beneficiation is not insignificant and can decidedly deal with our unemployment crisis. It is a reality currently that "11 out of every 12 diamonds sold globally are cut in and polished in India, and employs more than a million people most of whom have little or no formal education". This solely relates to diamonds, not the other 53 minerals found and extracted from South Africa`s mines.

(iii) Nationalise to safeguard sovereignty

In 1962, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 1802, which amongst other things affirmed "the rights of peoples and nations to permanent sovereignty over their wealth and resources must be exercised in the interest of their national development and of the well-being of the people of the state concerned". This was further re-affirmed in 1974 in the UN Declaration on the Establishment of a New Economic Order and the Rights and Duties of States, in saying that "Every State has the sovereign and inalienable right to choose its economic system as well as it political, social and cultural systems in accordance with the will of its people, without outside interference, coercion or threat in any form whatsoever". This is very important because post colonial control, subjugation and dominance, former colonies continue to be trapped in coloniser-colonised relationship rooted on the reality that the economies, particularly natural resources of former colonies continue to be controlled by former colonies.

Whilst important, investments are often used as a way to undermine countries` economic sovereignty. In South Africa, the African National Congress` good intention to construct a democratic developmental state might be undermined by the whims and needs of foreign investors who wittingly or unwittingly place conditionalities before investing. It is not uncommon for the political leadership in the ANC and alliance to defer or even avoid taking sovereign decisions in fear of investors and markets. A reasonable ownership and control over our natural resources will certainly give the people of South Africa through their responsible political leadership to guide and channel all foreign investment into the country`s developmental agenda. Historically, the ANC has correctly said that political freedom without economic freedom is nothing.

Majority of foreign direct investments (FDI) are not devoted to new, job creating investment but to mergers and acquisitions, which almost invariably result in job losses. In South Africa, the biggest FDIs in the democratic dispensation such as Barclays and Vodafone were mainly acquisitions and did not substantially alter the living conditions of our people through creation of quality jobs. This is not to say that FDI should altogether be disowned, yet a developmental state should have the necessary capacity to ensure that investments are directed towards sustainable development, employment creation and betterment of the people`s lives.

The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) acknowledges the principle of sovereign States to control its natural and mineral resources. Under fundamental principles, the Act "recognises the internationally accepted right of the State to exercise sovereignty over all the mineral and petroleum resources within the Republic". The Act further declares an intention to "give effect to the principle of the State`s custodianship of the nation and petroleum resources". This principle is not different from the ANC Youth League`s 23rd National Congress resolution that "the State should be custodian of the people in its ownership, extraction, production and trade of mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks".

(iv) Nationalise to transform the accumulation path in the South African economy

Although related to the above component, it is important to highlight the fact that the South African economy still bears strong features of all colonial economies. Primarily, all colonial economies were positioned as sources and reserves of primary goods and services for the colonisers` economies. Post political independence, many if not all post colonial economies continued to function and operate in the same manner: as exporters of primary commodities and importers of finished goods and services. This pattern has a direct impact on the sustainability of post-colonial economies, as they are heavily reliant on the demand of their goods and services by former colonisers and bigger market economies.

Within this context, the South African Communist Party acknowledges the noble principle and objective that in South Africa, "the key question in the transformation of our economy is that of seeking to build an economy that breaks its Colonialism of Special Type (CST) character and take it out of its dependent-development path. The task is that of an economy that challenges and transforms the dominant power of the mining-energy-finance monopoly capital" (27). In essence, this entails that our economy should break free from total dependence on the power of the mining-energy-finance monopoly capital. This is important because minerals resources are non-renewable resources, which will be depleted with the passage of times. It is therefore a noble objective to grow and diversifies the South African economy in a context where the state is in control and ownership of the strategic sectors of the economy. The current property relations, wherein few corporations are in control of minerals resources do not provide a viable case and space for economic diversification because it is not in their immediate interest and benefit.


(v) Nationalise to transform unequal spatial development patterns

Nationalised mines ought to lead to a spatial development framework that should necessarily decentralise development. The National Spatial Development Perspective (NSDP) developed by government`s Policy Coordination and Advisory Services (PCAS) makes correct observations about South Africa`s space economy, including the fact that "26 locations represent the engines of the South African economy, home to 77% of all people living under minimum living level in the country, 84% of the total population and generating 95% of the national Gross Value Added (GVA)" (28).

With these observations, the NSDP envisions to focus growth and employment in areas where it is purportedly effective and sustainable. In localities considered to have low development potential, the NDSP aims to focus government spending on providing social transfers, human resource development and labour market intelligence which would enable people to make choices: become more mobile and migrate to localities that are more likely to provide sustainable employment or other economic opportunities. Whilst this might be a correct intervention, there should be consideration of creating incentives for minerals-centred industrial development zones (IDZs) to spread out development and economic opportunities to localities that have high levels of poverty and unemployment and have beneath the soil, mineral resources and reserves which could constitute a basis for sustainable development.

For instance, Limpopo has a poverty rate of 77% (HSRC, 2004), and unemployment rate (expanded definition) of 51,5% (StatsSA Labour Force Survey, 2006). Limpopo is home to reserves of various mineral wealth, and a deliberate developmental strategy could be enacted along these lines. With such rates of poverty and unemployment, it would not be wrong for government to provide incentives through cost reduction of labour absorptive production and beneficiation process of minerals. These are some considerations, which require a detailed assessment and consideration in altering the spatial economy. Agro-processing is one area that need specific attention and could lead to the creation of quality sustainable employment.

Areas such as Sekhukhune, Rustenburg, Burgersfort, Emalahleni have far greater economic potential because of the mineral resources underneath their soil. These should be deliberately developed, beneficiated and industrialised to enhance and harness economic and human development in these territories. If Johannesburg could development into a modern city with a huge population and market within a short period of time on the backdrop of mineral resources, Rustenburg and Sekhukhune can be developed into cities. The development of other areas and territories into economic centres also assists in dealing with the congestion of poverty in very few cities in the country. In South Africa, more than five provinces are almost totally reliant on Johannesburg for employment, opportunities and development. Such should be discontinued through a deliberate development and industrialisation of areas and territories with economic potential.


This section outlines a concrete process towards the nationalisation of mines. Presented here are three different models, which on implementation should be accorded equal focus. In no preferential sequence, the ANC government should a) establish a State Mining Company; b) put in place a democratic, open and clearly defined expropriation (with and without compensation) model, and c) amend the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act to allow greater state participation in the exploration, extraction, production, processing, trading and beneficiation of mineral resources in South Africa.

(i) A State Mining Company

The South African government should officially establish a state-owned mining company, which will under its control bring the currently state-owned Alexkor, the State Diamond Trader and all state shares in mining activities held by SASOL and provincial agencies. The State Mining Company will be under the direct supervision of the Department of Mineral Resources and fundamentally responsible for the following tasks: (a) own and control South Africa`s mineral resources;
(b) maximise the nation`s economic gain from the mineral resources;
(c) contribute to South Africa`s social and economic development;
(d) develop and maintain strong environmental and safety standards; and
(e) develop the mineral resources in a careful and deliberate manner.

The State-Owned Mining Company should necessarily operate differently to how most state-owned enterprises, such as ESKOM, TRANSNET, SAA, etc., operate. The fundamental difference will be that it will not be run like a private business corporation whose extent of progress is solely measured through the amount of profit generated. The ANC 52nd National Conference already resolved that "a developmental state (which the ANC has committed to build) must ensure that our national resource endowments, including land, water, minerals and marine resources are exploited to effectively maximise the growth, development and employment potential embedded in such national assets and not purely for profit maximization".

The State Owned Mining Company`s progress should be measured as per its ability, capacity and coherent determination to create jobs, maximization of the country`s gain from mineral resources, contribution to socio-economic development and assistance of communities where mining happens. This will conspicuously require greater levels of accountability, openness and engagement with communities, workers and other important stakeholders in the determination of the responsibilities of the Company. Additional to high-level management team which will give direction to the State Owned Mining Company, it should legislatively be compelled to recurrently consult and collectively take decisions with mining communities, workers and other vital stakeholders. The involvement of communities, workers and other stakeholders is meant to avoid the top-down bureaucratic model which might take mining decisions inconsistent with the interests of people who should benefit from mining.

This perspective is fully aware of the existence of the State-owned African Exploration Mining & Finance Corporation (AEMFC). The functions and mandate of the AEMFC should consistent with the principle established here, be integrated into the State Owned Mining Company whose responsibilities are outlined above. Importantly, the State Owned Mining Company should attract the best of skills, expertise and knowledge on how best minerals are extracted, produced, beneficiated and traded for the mineral resources in South Africa.

ii) Expropriation Model

Section 25 of the Republic of South Africa Constitution (known as the Property Clause) protects private property, but also calls on the State to "take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis". This is within the basis of a subsection that says, "Property may be expropriated only in terms of law of general application... for a public purpose or in the public interest". Furthermore, the Constitution says that "no provision of this section (Property Clause) may impede the state from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform, in order to redress the results of past racial discrimination, provided that any departure from the provisions of this section is in accordance with the provisions of section 36(1)".

Whilst consistent with the spirit of the Constitution, the ANC`s interpretation of the section 25 of the Constitution should not be narrowly legalistic, and in the process falling into the scope of counter-transformation constitutionalists, whose interests is to solidify the imbalances and inequalities of the past. Nationalisation of mines in South Africa is not only in the public interest, but decisively redresses the historical injustices of dispossession, forced labour, disorganisation of indigenous people through forced migrant labour and taxation. The ANC government should within this context decisively utilise political power in a responsible, transformative and developmental manner in ensuring that the injustices of the past are redressed.

Concretely, the African National Congress should utilise its capacity to lead society, parliament and government to re-introduce the Expropriation Bill in Parliament, which clearly spell out how the state should expropriate mines and other property in the public interest without or with compensation, depending on the balance of probabilities. The expropriation bill should be consistent with the ANC`s Strategy & Tactics (2007) that "since 1994, the balance of forces has shifted in favour of the forces of change" and that such "provides the basis for speedier implementation of programmes to build a truly democratic and prosperous society".

The Expropriation Act will guide the state`s nationalisation of existing mines and mining activities. This should necessarily be done in a manner that guarantees socio-economic development, without disrupting the operations and employment of workers in the mines that should be nationalised. Depending on the balance of probabilities, the state can expropriate not less than 50% of the existing mines. This effectively should result in the state controlling, benefiting and taking liability of the existing mines` operations and functionality whilst complying with the country`s taxation and royalties requirements and provisions.

iii) Amend the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act

The Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act compels applicants for mining rights to have not less than 30% equity ownership and control by historically disadvantaged individuals. Whilst not eroding the initial intention, the MPRDA should be amended to say the applicants and corporations applying for mining in South Africa should be in partnership with the State Owned Mining Company, wherein the state owns not less than 60% of the shares and right of determination. The amended Act should apply to new mining licens

es and all those who seek to renew their licenses. In order to have a clearer regulatory framework on this principle, the South African government should place a moratorium on the issuing of licenses until the Act has been amended. The process to amend the Act should be an open democratic process involving all stakeholders and should happen immediately after the ANC has officially resolved on the perspective in the 53rd National Conference in 2012. The ANC National General Council in September 2010 should give concrete guidelines on how certain process should unfold.

The amended MPRDA should not undermine legislations regulating the Minerals and Petroleum industry in South Africa, but should decidedly be directed towards total alteration of property relations in South Africa. The other legislations that should be upheld include the Section 24 of the Constitution, which calls for the nation`s mineral and petroleum resources to be developed in an orderly and ecologically sustainable manner while promoting justifiable social and economic development. The principle that the "mineral and petroleum resources are the common heritage of all the people of South Africa and [that] the state is the custodian thereof for the benefit of all South Africans" should underpin all legislations about the country`s mineral resources.


There expectedly is going to be a certain degree of opposition to the principle and practice of nationalisation of mines. Opposition to the nationalisation of mines has various ideological, political, technical, capacity and subjective undertones seeking to protect political and private interests.

Firstly, state capacity to manage enterprises is doubted, often in comparison to the State`s oversight or lack thereof of key state owned enterprises such as the South African Airways (SAA), ESKOM, SABC and Denel. The comparison is not fair because in most instances, these have failed due to sheer criminality, mismanagement and patronage, coupled with weak accountability systems. The capacity of the state to decisively intervene in SAA and ESKOM for instance was inhibited by lack of proper systems and legislative framework concerning the extent of interventions the state as major shareholder can make alongside the Boards of Directors.

In the management of vital resources such as minerals and mines, a need will certainly arise for strong accountability systems and legislative guidelines of how mines are operated, buttressed by strong public accountability mechanisms. With the lessons derived from SAA, ESKOM, DENEL, and countries that are in minerals extraction partnerships, South Africa is suitably located to could propose a more effective, efficient and durable mechanism, systems and legislative framework to manage mines more efficiently. So the failed cases of SAA and ESKOM should not serve as a discouragement to the state`s control and ownership of mines, but as a lesson of what should be done moving forward.

Most of the black economic empowerment (BEE) beneficiaries of Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act and various mining charters are neither mining experts, nor engineers. An absolute majority of mines` shareholders are not mining experts and engineers, and some do not even know where the actual mining is happening. What shareholders do is put in place proper systems for the running of mines, to ensure they are the biggest beneficiaries of mining in South Africa. The South African democratic administration is maturing and could be able to own mines and utilise the existent skills and capacity to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from mining activities. For example, the majority of South Africa`s mining engineers are produced by our institutions of higher learning.

There is sufficient capacity amongst people who are currently running mines to operate mines on behalf of the state. Nationalisation does not mean that the people currently operating private mining activities will be demolished; it instead means that ownership will change. With the state as a major shareholder, then the proceeds of mineral wealth will be directed towards development of mining communities and contribute to the national budget for other useful expenditures such as education, health, rural development and beneficiation of these minerals. One vital point to mention is that performance of companies is not just a function of private or public ownership, but mainly a function of control. For instance, PETROSA, TRANSNET, ACSA have been doing well, and there are so many privately owned companies that are badly managed. The narrow neo-liberal argument of linking public ownership with inefficiency does not apply.

Despite these realities, a substantial question should be asked as to the intended developmental success indicators expected from state-owned enterprises as opposed to private enterprises in the context of a developmental state. This is important because that state`s participation in mining should never be about profit maximisation. The state`s role should be about creation of quality jobs, development of skills, knowledge and expertise about mining and mineral resources in South Africa. The success of the state`s ownership and control of mines in South Africa should be measured as per the number of quality jobs created, skills produced, and certainly the revenue generated for further development of mining and communities.

The ANC 52nd National Conference resolved to strengthen "the role of state-owned enterprises and ensuring that, whilst remaining financially viable, SOEs, agencies and utilities - as well as companies in which the state has significant shareholding - respond to a clearly defined public mandate and act in terms of our overarching industrial policy and economic transformation objectives". This should be effected within the State Owned Mining Company.

The other potential challenge to the nationalisation of mines will come from those who have private interests in mining. These include the established mining corporations and recent-past beneficiaries of mining activities. These interests should altogether be dismissed as they have potential to undermine the thorough-going pace of the National Democratic Revolution. No amount of narrow private interests should be allowed to block the long overdue nationalisation of mines in South Africa.

The last potential challenge to nationalisation of mines in South Africa will be the reference to the failed state owned copper mines in countries such as Zambia. The Zambian Copper Mines failed because copper as a strategic commodity in the world economy gradually lost value and significance, and that does not apply to the strategic minerals underneath South Africa`s soil, such as gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome, coal, etc. The model and approach to nationalisation of mines should not ignore the failed cases of state ownership and control, but should instead derive lessons on best the state can guide economic and human development through state control of the economy`s strategic sectors.


For durable socio-economic development and historical justice, the African National Congress should responsibly use the political power it holds on behalf of the people to exert progressive change. The 16 years of South Africa`s democratic dispensation has come with lots of challenges, but also lots of lessons on how better the ANC can change people`s lives for the better. South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world with massive unemployment and poverty challenges and the key towards unlocking such lies with the will of the people, which has been temporarily given to the African National Congress as leaders of government. The ANC has therefore a responsibility to change society for the better and ensure that all South Africans share in the country`s wealth.

Minerals resources are non-renewable resources and the further we extract these resources, the further we deplete South Africa`s potential wealth and strategic economic importance and significance in the world economy. It is therefore the responsibility of the ANC government to ensure that minerals wealth is utilised in an environmentally friendly fashion and economically durable manner for the benefit of all people. All the big mining corporations that currently benefit from South Africa`s wealth were built on the foundation of poor people`s sweat and blood as cheap labourers, slaves and underpaid workers in the mines. The people of South Africa should share in the country`s wealth. The mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks should be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.


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  23. Nelson Mandela public address in Cape Town upon his release, 2 February 1990
  24. Botswana`s Economy. Encyclopedia of the World Economy
  25. ANC 52nd National Conference Economic Transformation resolution.
  26. RSA PCAS (2009) National Spatial Development Programme, 2009.

Joel Netshitenzhe

The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!
The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;
All people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions.
Freedom Charter, 1955

In Makeni, Lusaka, at the HQ of the ANC’s Department of Information and Publicity there was an old man called Mpanza, umgwenya, who was responsible for maintenance of the complex. He had little formal education, and so we rarely involved him in our discussions on scripts for Radio Freedom and Mayibuye, our arrogant assumption being that he had nothing profound to contribute.

Until one day when he found us debating whether the Freedom Charter would lead to socialism or not: his intervention in flowery isiZulu, was profound – tribute to the night schools of the liberation movement before its banning. Especially when we achieve our freedom there will be intense struggle around this issue, he argued, because the Charter can be interpreted in all kinds of ways. Capitalist-oriented freedom fighters will pull it in their direction, while socialist-oriented ones will pull it in a different direction; and this will ultimately be resolved by the balance of forces.

This reminded us of how Jack Simons had explained the issue in his lectures in the camps. Clearly, to us, the injunction in the Freedom Charter that the national wealth and the land should be restored to the people was yet another demonstration of the socialist credentials of the ANC. But, Jack would respond sternly, doesn’t the Charter also say that people will be free to trade where they choose? In any case, even if land were subdivided or commonly owned by those who work it, some of them will succeed and others will go under. Those who succeed will progressively take over others’ tracts of land, and in time, the system of ownership would revert to the capitalist default, merely with the colour of the owners having changed!

Of course this is an oversimplification. But one could not but be reminded of these episodes in the current raging debate on the nationalisation of the mines.

Are we today witnessing what Baba Mpanza predicted? What about the alignment in the debate, with the South African Communist Party pulling in one direction, and the ANC Youth League – presumably to the Party’s right – campaigning for nationalisation? Or are we missing something in the battle of the sound-bite?

A changing paradigm

Unfortunately, a debate at the current level of abstraction cannot answer the fundamental question about the evolution in the formal interpretation of the Freedom Charter during various phases of the struggle. Shifts at a conceptual level, hardly acknowledged, have taken place over time – and it is this failure openly to acknowledge these shifts that in part is responsible for the misunderstandings on this issue.

The ANC Youth League is factually correct in its interpretation of the interpretation of the Freedom Charter in years gone by. In the words of former President Nelson Mandela in the 1950s:
“It is true that in demanding the nationalisation of the banks, the gold mines and the land the Charter strikes a fatal blow at the financial and gold-mining monopolies and farming interests that have for centuries plundered the country and condemned its people to servitude.”(1)

This point of view is formally confirmed, among others, in the analysis of the Freedom Charter adopted at the 1969 Morogoro Consultative Conference:
“It is necessary for monopolies which vitally affect the social well-being of our people such as the mines, the sugar and wine industry to be transferred to public ownership so that they can be used to uplift the life of all the people. All other industry and trade which is not monopolistic shall be allowed with controls to assist the well-being of the people” (2).

Until after the 1992 World Economic Forum meeting, Nelson Mandela had steadfastly stuck to this position. He has indicated that his change of mind was in part a result of interactions with the captains of industry and delegates from, among others, Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China.

Herein lies the intersection of strategy and tactics: on the one hand, concerns about the response of the investment community and, on the other, conceptual approaches adopted by movements perhaps even more “revolutionary” than the African National Congress. And it was not the first time that the issue had arisen in this way. Similar arguments had been raised by Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his interaction with ANC leaders in the late 1980s. In a sense, on this issue, Mandela was somewhat behind the curve – for the movement had in the 1980s started re-examining its interpretation of the “wealth clause” of the Freedom Charter.

It is in this broader context that the debate on the nationalisation of the mines should be understood. At the one level it is about the profound issue of the approach to property relations in a national democratic society – the relationship between the state, the markets and the citizen. At another level, it is about an understanding of the balance of forces and the difference between what may be desirable and what is actually possible.

The former is the most fundamental, for it relates to the very concept of the ultimate objective of the democratic struggle. Debates about balance of forces are, more often than not, about what is in the eye of the beholder. In any case, what needs to be done under a given balance of forces should derive from the understanding of the ultimate objective – even if there may be tactical detours.

So what has changed over the past 25 years, and why!

Compare Mandela’s earlier writings and the Morogoro interpretation of the Freedom Charter (quoted above) on the one hand, and the ANC’s 1992 Ready to Govern document and the 2007 Strategy and Tactics, on the other. This is how Ready to Govern treats this issue:
The democratic state will have ultimate responsibility - in cooperation with the trade union movement, business and other organs of civil society - for coordinating, planning and guiding the development of the economy towards a sustainable economic growth pattern…

“We envisage that such a developmental state will... be responsible for the provision of infrastructure in the form of roads, dams, telecommunication, transport and power stations, as well as for the furnishing of utilities such as water, electricity and waste disposal services, in ways that empower community-based organisations.

“We envisage a dynamic private sector, employing the skills and acumen of all South Africans, making a major contribution to the provision of good quality, attractive and competitively priced goods and services for all South Africans. …

“In the context of the growth and development strategy, the role of the state should be adjusted to the needs of the national economy in a flexible way. The primary question in this regard is not the legal form that state involvement in economic activity might take at any point, but whether such actions will strengthen the ability of the economy to respond to the massive inequalities in the country, relieve the material hardship of the majority of the people, and stimulate economic growth and competitiveness.

“In this context, the balance of the evidence will guide the decision for or against various economic-policy measures. Such flexibility means assessing the balance of the evidence in restructuring the public sector to carry out national goals. The democratic state will therefore consider:         

“Such a mixed economy will foster a new and constructive relationship between the people, the state, the trade union movement, the private sector and the market.”(3)

Contained in this approach are critical changes of nuance – nay more, of policy – on the issue of state ownership in a national democratic revolution. Firstly, unlike in earlier interpretations of the Freedom Charter, state ownership is not posited as the in-principle alternative to all private monopolies: rather, this would be informed by the impact such ownership would have on the ability of the economy to address poverty and inequality and to encourage growth and competitiveness. Secondly, the developmental state should be responsible for enterprises that provide public goods such as infrastructure and basic services. Thirdly, the private sector, including monopoly capital, is treated not as an enemy, but as a potential partner – and yet one that needs to be regulated. Lastly, balance of evidence would inform decisions to either increase or reduce the public sector while protecting consumers and workers.

In similar vein, the 2007 Strategy and Tactics document, argues:
A thriving economy in a national democratic society requires as efficient a market as possible, shorn of the racial and gender exclusions that characterised apartheid colonialism, and freed from the barriers to entry and competition that the economy endured under colonial capitalism. It will also require a state able to use its capacities to direct national development through fiscal redistribution, utilisation of State-owned Enterprises and effective regulation.

A national democratic society will have a mixed economy, with state, co-operative and other forms of social ownership, and private capital. The balance between social and private ownership of investment resources will be determined on the balance of evidence in relation to national development needs and the concrete tasks of the NDR [National Democratic Revolution] at any point in time…

 “The relationship between the national democratic state and private capital in general is one of ‘unity and struggle’, co-operation and contestation. On the one hand, the democratic state has to create an environment conducive for private investments from which the investors can make reasonable returns, and through which employment and technological progress can be derived. On the other hand, through state-owned enterprises, effective regulation, taxation and other means, the state seeks to ensure redistribution of income, to direct investments into areas which will help national development, to play a central role in providing public goods and broadly to ensure social responsibility. The balance between ‘unity’ and ‘struggle’ will be dictated to by the strategic imperatives of the NDR.” (4)

The resolution of the 2007 Polokwane Conference on the economy confirms this approach and further elaborates immediate tasks in this regard. Amongst others it calls for government-wide economic planning; a strategic role for the state in shaping the key sectors of the economy, including the mineral-energy complex and the national transport and logistics system; and ensuring that our national resource endowments, including land, water, minerals and marine resources are exploited effectively to maximise growth, development and employment potential. Further, it notes that many “monopolies are based on the nation`s natural resources and we must find ways and means to intervene, including through state custody of these resources on behalf of the people and regulation to ensure competitive pricing of inputs for our downstream manufacturing sector.” (5)

Strategic versus tactical considerations

This then is the shift that has occurred over the years in the ANC’s approach to state ownership of the means of production. It may as well be that a reading of the global and domestic balance of forces informed a particular stance in each phase.

Because this shift occurred in a period of the weakening and ultimate collapse of the socialist system in Europe and the rise of neo-liberal fundamentalism across the globe, it can be argued that it represented a tactical response to a changing global environment. But the facts suggest that the correlation and causality were much deeper than this: the change had more to do with profound lessons deriving from this collapse – leading to reflections on the internal logic of a national democratic society and the place and character of state ownership  – rather than a mere change in the strength of progressive forces.

It would therefore be wrong to suggest that the shift is one based merely on tactical considerations: that the ANC is lying in wait until it is strong enough to nationalise all mineral wealth, the banks and monopoly industry!

Rather, contained in this is a conceptualisation of state ownership in a national democratic society that is different from approaches that prevailed before the mid-1980s. This applies to the core function of the state in the economy and how it relates to the market and the private sector, eloquently elaborated in Ready to Govern. Combined with this is the tilt towards characterising the private sector – including monopoly capital – as a potential partner in development, a far cry from a literal interpretation of the “wealth clause”.

This change of approach is also discernible in the treatises of the South African Communist Party in relation to the national democratic revolution and even to socialism. 

For instance, in the programme adopted at its 2007 Congress, the SACP argues for rolling back the power of monopolies (an “adversary”). On the NDR, though it reasserts the “wealth clause” of the Freedom Charter it also calls for the mobilisation of private capital, based on “clear objectives and concrete tasks, which should include a priority on job-creating investment, skills training, appropriate and sustainable development of the forces of production, the elimination of compradorist, parasitic and other corrupt tendencies, and an active contribution to a strategic industrial policy that overcomes CST [Colonialism of a Special Type] sectoral and spatial imbalances.” (6)

Arguing that “[a] socialism of the 21st century will need to think and act differently” (7), the SACP emphasises “socialisation” of the economy as a critical material foundation of the socialist system which includes a state sector, co-operatives and worker-empowerment on the shop floor. This sector would be dominant and hegemonic, but in a mixed economy.

In brief, there has been a shift in the conceptualisation of the strategic objectives of the liberation movement in relation to the issue of property relations. At the centre of this is the differentiation between goals (poverty eradication, equity, economic growth and development of technology and skills) and mechanisms to achieve this which may or may not include nationalisation.

It is therefore ahistorical to quote texts from some half-a-century ago as evidence of an immutable policy stance, without an appreciation of the obvious changing context.

However, nothing in this changed approach rules out, as a matter of principle, nationalisation of the mines or anything else. Who can dare rule out such a possibility for all time, under all circumstances, let alone in the midst of the current interventions to deal with the global economic crisis even among the most blue-blooded of neo-liberal dominions in Europe and North America?

But this is neither here nor there. The fact is that there has been a shift from an a priori determination to nationalise the mines, the banks and all monopoly industry and to view monopoly capital as an enemy of the NDR.

And so, this brings us to the debate on “balance of evidence”: what is it and how is it determined!

Deciphering the notion of “balance of evidence”

An approach based on “balance of evidence” is informed by the understanding that state ownership is not an end in itself. The critical objective is to ensure higher rates of growth in a manner that reduces poverty and inequality. State ownership is therefore a means to an end. 

Whether there should or should not be state ownership in a particular sector should be based on this central consideration. In a flexible way, the role of the state needs to be adjusted in answer to two critical questions: does it strengthen the ability of the nation to deal with poverty and inequality; and does it strengthen growth and competitiveness!

This presumes that the private sector and the market would play an important role in economic growth and development. As such, a constructive relationship should be built with this sector, in addition to civil society generally.

However, to achieve the objective of growth combined with development, the state should have the capacity to direct the country’s economic trajectory.

Further, state ownership is critical in sectors that provide public goods and services. In this area – with some few exceptions – the balance of evidence, in the mind of the ANC, points to a definitive course of action.

A number of instances since 1994 illustrate the “balance of evidence” approach.

Quite correctly, the decision was taken for the state to divest from activities that had very little to do with public goods or broader imperatives of growth and development. Urban legend has it that in the 1980s, impressed by the lunch he had at Telkom offices, President PW Botha instructed that they should open and run a similar restaurant at Union Buildings (Meintjieskop). On the balance of evidence, such a non-core assets could not conceivably be kept in the hands of the state. The same applies to Aventura holiday resorts for which a COSATU investment company submitted a bid.

There were also instances where, in order to raise funds for investment purposes, equity in some state-owned enterprises was sold to the private sector. Though the reasons may be quite specific, the experience of the Airports Company with the Aeroporti di Roma equity partnership does show that such undertakings can go wrong; and the state had to buy back the stake.   

On the other hand, having assessed the slow progress in the provision of broadband capacity, in part impacting on the prices of telecommunications, the state decided at the turn of the 2000s to set up Infraco.

These examples – about which there would be little debate – demonstrate considerations pertaining to balance of evidence.

Currently, serious consideration has to be given to bringing on board private players in the generation of electricity, including in the construction of some of the Eskom power stations. What is the alternative, given the debilitating effects that higher electricity tariff increases would have on the economy and society at large, and the limits of Eskom’s gearing capacity in the form of the ratio of its debt to its value as a company. Again here, the principle of balance of evidence would have to be applied in the detail.

There are many other experiences in the period since 1994, the implementation of which was governed by the Framework Agreement with stakeholders. Many of these have generated legitimate debate about whether in all instances the balance of evidence approach was applied correctly. The reviews conducted by government have pointed to numerous lessons, including:

This brings out in sharp relief the central question of state capacity to lead in directing the country’s economic trajectory. Such a trajectory entails changing the structure of the economy, including through diversifying the economic base, expanding productive capacity, ensuring greater labour absorption, expanding and integrating small and micro-enterprises, diversifying exports, integrating with the sub-continent, and so on.

To reiterate: in weighing the evidence for or against state ownership, the starting point should be about the strategic economic and broader societal objectives. The instruments to achieve this, including state ownership, levels of taxation, the rigour of regulation and so on should derive from a clear enunciation of the strategic objective.

This is the current approach of the ANC and its government, as distinct from an in-principle determination of the preferred levels of state ownership that was wont to inform earlier interpretations of the Freedom Charter. What then is the balance of evidence in relation to the mining industry?

Balance of evidence – the mining industry

It is to state the obvious to assert that the mining industry is central to the South African economy: our spatial economic and settlement patterns, the character of our skills base, the structure of our exports, the evolution of our labour relations, the nature of our land distribution and tenure system, the configuration of our transport networks, the evolution of our political systems and so on – all these were shaped to varying degrees and in large measure by the mining industry. It was the driver of South Africa’s industrialisation.

While many things have changed, the broad trend continues. Among other indicators, in 2005: mining directly and indirectly accounted for about 16% of GDP and 12% of fixed investments, 50% of primary and beneficiated merchandise exports, 50% of Transnet’s rail and ports volume, 16% of electricity demand, 30% of liquid fuels from SASOL’s coal-to-liquid process and 93% of electricity generation from coal power (8):


While directly it contributes about 450 000 jobs, this almost triples if forward and backward linkages and the “induced effect” are taken into account. South Africa’s contribution to global technology applications and skills in the mining sector is legend.

There is no doubt that, historically, the attitude of global powers to South Africa was shaped to a significant extent by its mineral endowments. This will continue into the future, given the character and extent of the country’s reserves. For instance, according to the then Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), South Africa accounts for about 72% of the world’s resource base of chrome ore, 80% of manganese, 40% of gold, 32% of vanadium and 7% of uranium. The country in 2007 was ranked 8th in the world in exploration spending. (9)

This is made the more important by the fact that South Africa accounts for 88% of the world’s known reserves of Platinum Group Metals (PGM), a resource of the future. (10)

Platinum is a key catalytic material for the conversion of hydrogen into energy and for its storage and transportation; it is a key component of catalytic converters and fuel cell processes – all critical for renewable energy and the mitigation of current emissions. South Africa aims to capture a quarter of the world market for fuel-cell technologies by 2025 (11). The significance of this is underlined by the fact that the “global market for fuel cells and hydrogen technologies is forecast to be potentially worth US$46-billion by 2011”. (12)

The future uses of platinum and the “common set of skills needed” for the industry, include: fuel cells, auto-catalysts, chemicals, crude refining, jet engine high temperature applications and bio-medicine. (13)

And so, the approach to the mining industry in our country should be informed by the considerations that inspired the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), among others, that:

The Youth League is quite correct, in addition to these issues, to pose the question whether the industry can play a larger role in improving the country’s fiscal capacity; in creating more jobs and in improving working conditions; in enhancing South Africa’s sovereignty; and in transforming the country’s accumulation path.

Even more critical are the strategic issues about the role of some of the minerals in the world’s scientific and technological development trajectory, with major implications for South Africa’s place in global geo-political dynamics.

There is much that can be said about the positive trends in the mining industry in relation to the considerations outlined above, such as the enactment and operationalisation of the MPRD Act, some progress with Black Economic Empowerment including representation at top management levels, expansion of research activities, contribution to the fiscus in the context of the vagaries of the market, comparatively less acrimonious labour relations, joint processes to deal with accidents and so on.

However, a number of challenges do point to the need to attend to macro-issues in the industry. To quote a few instances:

Firstly, the fact that for part of the last decade the industry experienced a counter-intuitive tendency of declining fixed investments and low growth in mining production, in the midst of a commodities boom, is cause for major concern. This comes out even more starkly when compared with Australia (14):


Secondly, little progress has been made in developing the much-vaunted mining sector strategy as part of the country’s industrial policy and action plans.

Thirdly, South Africa can hardly claim to be exploiting the opportunities for mining-related backward and forward linkages optimally. With regard to beneficiation, for instance, the impression among many in government is that there is dogged resistance to a comprehensive approach to this within the private sector. 

Fourthly, besides weaknesses of demographics in management, professional, skilled and semi-skilled categories, the industry is “not producing sufficient skills to replace the ageing engineering and artisan population, let alone gear the industry for growth”.

The fifth challenge is about the extent of commitment to cutting edge research especially in the PGM sector. Some progress has been made in this regard; but hardly of the kind that will achieve the target referred to by Minister Pandor (a quarter of the world market for fuel-cell technologies by 2025). Ironically, some of the most advanced research in this regard in the European Union, United States and Japan is being financed by South African companies.

In brief, the scorecard is a mixed one: the industry definitely needs to improve on the positives and correct the weaknesses.

Is nationalisation the solution?

Is nationalisation the best way to deal with these weaknesses and optimise the opportunities?

To recapitulate: the starting point in answering this question should be whether the core strategic objectives of addressing poverty and inequality and encouraging growth and competitiveness would best be served by such policy action! Implied in this is the question whether there are other means – of less risk and cost – to attain the same objective!

In this regard, it is critical to examine the sources of some of the weaknesses outlined above.

The challenge of investment during part of the last decade can be attributed to a number of factors. There is no doubt that some investors were in principle opposed to the transformation envisaged in the MPRD Act, the extreme among whom are the litigants in the case of Foresti and Others who sought to challenge the act with regard to the conversion of old order rights.

But, in the main, mining investments were negatively impacted by factors such as infrastructure bottlenecks, long lead-times in acquiring machinery, the volatility of the exchange rate, insufficient capacity within the then DME in the early days of MPRDA implementation and slow processing of environmental impact assessments. In this regard, the challenge, quite clearly, is not whether the mines are in state hands or not.

Related to this is the issue of the mining sector strategy, which has taken inordinately long to develop. And both government and the private sector are responsible for this. Even if the mines were owned by the state, without a sector plan, there would be no strategic logic to activities in the sector. This applies to such issues as optimal exploitation of backward and forward linkages, including beneficiation, as well as the current unseemly spat between Kumba Iron Ore and ArcelorMittal – which has little to do with the country’s strategic interests – and the unresolved issue of iron-ore developmental pricing.

Similarly, matters of research and skills development need to be attended to jointly by the sector and the government; and some may require tighter regulation and effective monitoring and evaluation.

How about the objectives identified by the Youth League? (15)

Increase the state’s fiscal capacity: There is indeed a case to be made about the revenues from the mining sector and whether the state as owner could use these for purposes of meeting social and other needs. In a comprehensive paper on State-owned enterprise reform, Ha-Joon Chang shows how some developed, developmental and developing states have successfully used ownership of mineral and other natural resources to acquire funds for developmental purposes. (16)

Norway and Venezuela are cases in point in respect of oil revenue. How to appropriate the extra revenue (rent), how it is used and the need for a carefully managed special fund, mainly for investment rather than consumption – all these are critical matters that cannot be treated glibly. Besides, the availability of such resources for the fiscus during years of plenty should also be balanced against shortfalls during lean years. The fiscal difficulties that Venezuela experienced in 2008/09 with sharply falling oil prices illustrate this. In any case, instead of nationalisation, such fiscal resources can be acquired through royalties and/or windfall taxes pegged at whatever level is desirable, practicable and sustainable.

A basis to transform the accumulation path: Ha-Joon Chang demonstrates how countries such as France, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia have used state ownership of a variety of enterprises to drive industrial policy (17). Instructively, he argues that state-owned enterprises are not inherently good or inherently bad. For them to be successful there should be an economic bureaucracy of high quality, monitoring and evaluation systems with quality information, and an overall strategic plan that such enterprises should drive. Again, it can be argued that the starting point in this regard should be strategic objectives and plans, and then whether these would be promoted necessarily through nationalisation.

More jobs and better working conditions: It is quite true that a state-owned mining sector could enhance job-creation and improve working conditions in the sector. But this is not a one way street. As Chang observes:
“… SOEs may be instructed to retain unnecessary workers despite making losses, because the government does not have an unemployment insurance program nor can it create more “productive” jobs through public works programs. In this case, a better solution would be to create a political environment where the government does not have to worry about generating “fictitious” employment because it has good unemployment insurance and public works programs. Setting up these programs, however, may need political reforms, because they require a political consensus for higher taxes and government deficit spending (when necessary)” (18).

Safeguard sovereignty: Ownership of mineral resources should definitely enhance a country’s sovereignty. Inversely, foreign investors can do the opposite. But how can this be addressed? Is it necessarily through ownership of mining operations or through vesting custodianship over these resources in the state – as the MPRD Act does – and effecting appropriate regulations and controls?

Besides these challenges, state ownership of a resources sector would also have to contend with a critical subjective factor: the capacity and integrity of the cadres “deployed” to manage the enterprises. If the systems of such enterprises are weak and are not insulated from opportunistic political interventions, they would suffer the kind of paralysis the Chinese refer to as the “’three looks and three don’t speaks’: look for the direction of the wind…, when it is not clear where the wind is blowing from, don’t speak; look at the color of the eyes of the supervisors…, when the colour is not right (that is, not in the right mood), don’t speak; look into the intentions…, when the intentions of the supervisors are not clear, don’t speak” (19).   

This challenge, author Xiaobo Lu argues, arises in part because deployed cadres can become “status-conscious, and undisciplined… [cadres] who, in the manner of pre-revolutionary… local officials, put the interests of more intimate secondary and primary groups above those of the regime” (ibid:23).
This some may dismiss as a minor challenge that can be dealt with through political education and so on. But where internal party and governmental control systems are weak, it can make or break the state sector and even the whole project of social transformation. This is because state-owned natural resource companies lend themselves to corruption –they “have high ‘lootability’” (21).

In a nutshell, the call for holus bolus ‘nationalisation of the mines’ is not supported by strong enough evidence.

However, government can consolidate its assets in the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation, Alexkor, the erstwhile Lebowa Mineral Trust (in Limdev) and relevant shares in other entities. This would need to be accompanied by a cogent strategy on the impact such a company needs to make in the industry and the rest of the economy. Its asset base can be expanded or reduced through normal processes of acquisition and disposal provided for in the country’s statutes and without imposing an unnecessary burden on the fiscus. In doing so, the opportunities and dangers that attach to operating a productive enterprise should be kept in mind.


There is nothing inherently bad or inherently good in state ownership of productive capacity in the economy, including especially strategic non-renewable resources.

The ANC has adopted an approach to state ownership of the means of production based on weighing the balance of evidence in each particular case. This is different from an earlier interpretation of the Freedom Charter which a priori posited nationalisation of mines, banks and monopoly industry as a given for a national democratic society.

South Africa has a system in which mineral resources belong to the nation, with the state as the custodian. Attached to this is the right to levy royalties as well as a variety of regulatory instruments. At the same time, the state is building its capacity to lead economic development, among others, through the development – in partnership with all stakeholders – of a national vision and strategic plan and an industrial policy.

In these processes, the leadership of all the social partners, including the private sector and mining companies in particular, will need to adopt an approach that identifies the broader and sectoral long-term objectives. They will need to determine the role of each partner, the weaknesses that need to be addressed as well as the benefits and sacrifices that attach to each choice made – the better jointly and severally to move South Africa onto a higher growth trajectory. 

This approach does not preclude the consolidation of the state’s mining assets in a company that plays an important role in the sector and the economy as a whole. This may not address all the issues raised by Baba Mpanza and Jack Simons. But it does follow a logic that is internally consistent. Critically, it does not create uncertainty, especially in a period when the economy is fragile and struggling to emerge from a recession.

Thus, the policies of the movement and the intentions of the Constitution’s founders will be respected.


Bernard Swanepoel, Vice-President of Chamber of SA Mines: Presentation to Mining Summit, September 2006

By MZ Ngungunyane

As the last country in the continent to be liberated from the yoke of colonialism and oppression and having learnt from the mistakes committed by some of our sister countries that attained their freedom before us, we had the possibility to adopt various policy positions to respond correctly to the challenges which continue to face our country and people. It is necessary as part of the process of renewal of our movement, the African National Congress (ANC), that from time to time we revisit these policy positions to see if they are still relevant and also meet our strategic objectives. 

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has released a discussion document titled “Towards the Transfer of Mineral Wealth to the Ownership of the People as a Whole: a perspective on nationalization of the Mines” which calls for nationalization of mines. The ANCYL has readily agreed that the debate on nationalization cannot be limited to mines.

The ANCYL occupies a very special place in the history of our movement. After all, it was the ANCYL of the 40’s which re-energized and unleashed upon our movement an outstanding cadre of leadership of OR Tambo, Mandela, Sisulu and many others.  It was again the youth of ’76 that swelled the ranks of our movement when it, including other liberation movements, was in full retreat following the crackdown by the regime.   It is for this reason that we should pay special attention to the debate that is being raised by the ANCYL so that, in the end, we are able to come out with policy positions which serve to advance our strategic objectives.  

The ANCYL has premised its call for nationalization of mines on the economic clauses in the Freedom Charter, the program of action adopted by the ANC in 1956 which visualized how a free South Africa should look like. The Freedom Charter declares that “the national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; all other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people; all people shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter all trades, crafts and professions”.  

Before embarking upon an analysis of the various arguments made by the ANCYL in its discussion document, we believe it is important that we remind ourselves of the objective factors that were at play at the time we assumed governance of our native land.  Firstly, our democratic breakthrough in 1994 came in the aftermath of the collapse of the former USSR, an objective reality that the movement could not ignore.  Secondly, it is common knowledge that our government inherited a virtually bankrupt state.  Thus, once again, as it had resolutely done during the various phases of prosecuting a difficult and painful struggle, starting in 1956 when it adopted the Freedom Charter as its program of action; leading to armed resistance in 1960 in the aftermath of a crackdown by the apartheid regime following the Sharpville massacre; and culminating in formal negotiations and ultimate defeat of the regime in 1994, our movement had to respond strategically to the challenges facing our country and people. It is against this backdrop that we should critique the policy positions adopted by the ANC since the advent of freedom and democracy, especially those relating to the transformation of the mining sector of the economy, and ask ourselves whether the objective factors we have mentioned above have significantly changed.

It was not until 2002 after having gained confidence to successfully govern and manage as complex an economy as ours that our government began to confront,  our historical opponents and adopted measures aimed at transforming the mining sector of the economy. In an attempt to give meaning and content, in a practical manner, to the objectives in the Freedom Charter which call for “restoration of our country’s national wealth” and “transfer of the mineral wealth beneath the soil” to the people, our government passed a significant piece of law in the form of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, of 2002 (the MPRDA).

Our democratically elected lawmakers have asserted in the preamble of the MPRDA an important principle which says that “South Africa’s mineral and petroleum resources belong to the nation and that the State is the custodian thereof.” This important principle is again re-affirmed in sections 2(b) and 3(1) of the law.  The lawmakers have communicated another necessary message (again in section 2(a), explaining that the purpose of the law is to assert an “internationally accepted right” that our state, like other states, should “exercise sovereignty over all the mineral and petroleum resources within the Republic” (1). In so doing, they have addressed precisely the concern which the ANCYL raises in its Discussion Document that nationalization should be a means to safeguard sovereignty (2). 

The ANCYL recognizes the breakthrough in sections 2 and 3 and says that the principle advanced therein is not different from the resolution it adopted in its 23rd National Congress which calls for “the State [to] be custodian of the people in its ownership, extraction, production and trade of mineral wealth beneath the soil, monopoly industries and banks” (2).  The mining sector which had served as the economic bedrock of the apartheid regime, after having recognized that the forces of change and transformation were irreversible, had no choice but to accept that our government had the right, as a legitimate representative of the people, to reclaim ownership and custodianship of the nation’s mineral wealth on behalf of our people. The mining houses were, in any event, fully aware that what the government sought to do was in line with international practice.    

Our lawmakers were acutely aware that to correct the historical injustice wherein the majority of our people were denied the right and opportunity to share in the mineral wealth of our country, they had to “facilitate or promote the substantial entrance of and meaningful participation by historically disadvantaged persons, including women, in the mining industry” (3) by ensuring that preference is given to applications by the afore-mentioned groups.  To this end, the lawmakers called for an audit of the nation’s mineral wealth to know the ownership patterns in order to begin a process of “equitable distribution” of the mineral wealth, with deliberate bias in favour of applications by historically disadvantaged persons, including women. They required any person who held what is known as an old order prospecting or mining right to make application (conversion application) to the department within a period of two years from the date on which the law came into effect to convert such right so that such rights are in line with the new law. Any person who failed to convert their old title or whose conversion application failed to meet the imperatives of the law lost title to their old-order rights and such rights became available to any company or individual on application.

Another critical intervention made by the lawmakers was to make sure that once a prospecting or mining right was given to a new right-holder, it was difficult for such person to transfer that right to another party, especially if such persons were not historically disadvantaged. This was done under section 11(1) which requires for any sale, rental or lease of a prospecting or mining right or a controlling interest, i.e. more than 50.1% of the shares in a company owning a prospecting or mining right, to go ahead only after it is approved by the Minister. The difficulty with the law as it currently stands is that it is unable to detect those unscrupulous transactions which happen without the knowledge of the Minister.  This practice undermines the objectives of the law.  The law needs to be strengthened to ensure that parties who engage in such practices do not only lose their rights but are prohibited from applying for other rights.   

To complete the process, the lawmakers also enacted what is known as the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act, 2008 (Royalty Act). This law sets out the royalty payments by license holders to the State for exploiting the mineral resources.  In short, this is the legal framework against which we should evaluate the call for nationalization of mines: to consider whether the current mining laws meet the objectives set out in the Freedom Charter.

The ANCYL argues that those who say that the current mining laws achieve the objectives in the Freedom Charter are being disingenuous and that their argument is “within the liberal interpretation of what the Freedom Charter envisages”.  This criticism is unfair. First, it ignores the fact that it is the ANC which gave the lawmakers, as its trusted public representatives and deployees, the mandate to pass these mining laws. Second, the criticism does not address the central issue, namely, whether, objectively, the current mining laws have managed to “restore the national wealth of our country and heritage to the people” and “transfer the mineral wealth beneath the soil to the ownership of the people”.

We are convinced that the current mining laws do constitute a strategic intervention by our government that has ensured that the objectives in the Freedom Charter are realized. The MPRDA has: 

  1. proclaimed boldly in a number of sections that South Africa’s mineral and petroleum resources belong to the nation and that the State is the custodian thereof. In fact the MPRDA has nationalized all mineral rights! 
  2. promoted and facilitated the entrance of and meaningful participation by historically disadvantaged persons, including women, in the mining sector;
  3. ensured that any person who exploits our nation’s mineral wealth does so with the express permission of the State and upon payment of the prescribed fees and royalties.

The brilliance of the intervention is that our government has achieved all this without fanfare, posturing and, most importantly, in an orderly fashion that has maintained the stability of the mining sector.

In the final analysis we are tempted to ask a rhetorical question: if indeed the State owns the nation’s mineral wealth, what then remains for us to nationalize? Is it perhaps the infrastructure and technological know-how associated with mining activities that we are after and if so, what would be our theoretical basis for doing so?

The 52nd National Conference of the ANC (the first conference following the passing of the MPRDA) resolved, among others, that “the use of natural resources of which the State is the custodian on behalf of the people, including our minerals, water, marine resources in a manner that promotes the sustainability and development of local communities and also realizes the economic and social needs of the whole nation. In this regard, we must continue to strengthen the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), which seeks to realize some of these goals.” (4)

We understand the frustration by the ANCYL that the MPRDA “instead of benefiting the population as a whole it [this limited “nationalization]” has benefited only a small comprador elite”. Although some of our people have taken advantage of the permitting regulatory framework and applied for and were granted prospecting rights, it appears from the studies that the numbers are far from being satisfactory.  In this regard, we should once more ask ourselves whether we have done enough, both as a movement and government, to mobilize and empower our people, especially the poor and marginalized, to access our nation’s mineral wealth so that they, too, can enjoy the material and tangible gifts of freedom and democracy.  Although we will find nothing in the current laws which precludes or prevents communities from applying for prospecting rights within or outside their areas of residence, we believe that one of the ways of fast-tracking access by a large number of our people to the nation’s mineral wealth is to amend the current mining laws to make it mandatory for all applications for prospecting rights to include communities. Is it perhaps not time that we begin to empower our communities, as in the case of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, to become direct beneficiaries in these mining projects rather than to leave them to the benevolence of the mining industry. 

Among the challenges facing our people as new entrants in the mining industry is access to capital necessary to conduct exploration and mining activities. This often leads them to transfer control of their rights to the old players and, in some cases, on unfavourable terms to them. This derails the government’s objectives. We need to pay special attention to this problem and put in place measures to support them to develop these rights, including mobilizing resources to enable them to conduct prospecting activities.  We also need to carefully consider whether the royalty payments we currently receive from mining houses are (i) enough and (ii) in line with international best practices, mindful of the fact that we also would not want to ‘kill the goose that lays the golden egg’.

With so many other challenges facing our country and people, such as land re-distribution, poverty alleviation, social cohesion, etc., we are tempted, once again, to ask rhetorically whether, strategically and tactically, it would be wise for our government to expand substantial resources in an environment where national coffers are already in decline simply in pursuit of the lure of mining profits.  It is trite that mining requires huge capital outlay. There are already concerns in the mining industry that our country is no longer a premier mining jurisdiction, it is now ranked 61 out of 72 in the world and third last in the continent (6). We need to address these concerns and find ways to make our mining industry attractive once more so that it can continue to create jobs for our people. 

In response to the argument by the ANCYL that nationalization “will lead to greater local beneficiation, industrialization, growth of the economy and jobs for majority of our people” (7) we wish to refer to the following statement contained in the 2008/2009 Annual Report released by the then Department of Minerals and Energy (2008/2009):

mindful of the incontrovertible fact that our country’s resources are limited, Cabinet has approved the Beneficiation Strategy.  Essentially, the strategy is intended to support national programmes such as the National Industrial Policy Framework as well as the development of nuclear power capacity in order to diversify the country’s energy basket and ensure the security of energy supply, among many other things. As we embark on the beneficiation route, all stakeholders in the minerals and energy sectors will leverage benefit from the country’s comparative and competitive advantages. The extent of the external vulnerabilities created by our significant dependence on external markets will not only be mitigated but will also be reduced somewhat.  The beneficiation strategy also provides opportunities for investment in the country by South African and foreign investors, as per the PGM beneficiation, which grew from less than 2% in the latter part of the 1990s to just over 20% in 2008.  It is our intention to increase the value-addition” per capita in the country to create jobs, eradicate poverty and contribute to economic growth and development”.

We need to engage with the department to find out progress on the implementation of these commitments.  

It is encouraging to note that one of the options put forward by the ANCYL is the amendment of the existing laws. (8). As we have already discussed above, we believe that this is the best option to address the concerns regarding the current mining laws.

We have no doubt that these are important and difficult matters to resolve, which will require us to engage with each other with cool heads and supporting our respective arguments with scientific data and analysis, in the best traditions of our movement, so that in the end we adopt positions that advance rather than derail our National Democratic Revolution.

The road ahead will be long and difficult but let none of us rest in our pursuit for a better life of economic freedom and dignity for our people, especially the poor and marginalized. However, we caution against being bogged down in revolutionary theory and posture which in the end will sidetrack our National Democratic Revolution. We can only achieve our goals by talking openly and honestly with each other.

In conclusion, we wish to leave you with the words attributed to Deng Xiaoping that "it doesn`t matter whether a cat is white or black, as long as it catches mice”

Amandla! Matla! Matimba!


  1. Section 2 (a)
  2. ANCYL (2010) Discussion document, par. 59
  3. ANCYL Discussion document par. 69
  4. Section 2 (d)
  5. ANC (2007) Resolution on Economic transformation, par. 2.10
  6. Duma Gqubule, “Mining”. Business Day, 12 April 2010
  7. ANCYL Discussion document par. 54
  8. ANCYL Discussion document par. 79

Towards the Nationalization of the Mines and Monopoly Industry

Congress of South African Trade Unions

The mineral wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people....” [Freedom Charter]

“Many of our monopolies are based on the nation`s natural resources and we must find ways and means to intervene, including through state custody of these resources on behalf of the people and regulation to ensure competitive pricing of inputs for our downstream manufacturing sector”. [Polokwane Resolution 2.3]

 “Consider available options with a view to speedily undertake a course of action towards the nationalisation of strategic industrial monopolies such as SASOL, Telkom and Mittal Steel (South Africa), in line with the resolutions of Polokwane”. [Cosatu 10th Congress Resolution 2.42] 

To campaign for and ensure the re-nationalization of companies in strategic sectors such SASOL and Mittal Steel with an ultimate aim of nationalizing and socializing the commanding heights of the economy in line with the vision of the Freedom Charter”. [The SACP 12th Congress Resolution on Industrial Policy]


This contribution welcomes the discussion document on the nationalization of the mines by the ANC Youth League.  Faced with steep resistance and major distractions, the ANCYL has demonstrated its steadfastness and resolve to defend a consistently democratic understanding, which has characterized the approach of our movement, to the question of fundamental transformation of the relations of production in our economy.

Certain sections of our movement had begun and continue to hold the view, that the ANC has never been informed by a socialist perspective.  They have sought to present the historical approach of the ANC as some form of social democracy, inserted to address a colonial situation.  The economic ideology that underpins this tendency finds expression in a watered down version of the interpretation of the Freedom Charter.  They present to the current generation of the membership of our movement, and the people of South Africa as a whole, what can be characterized as Freedom Charter Lite-a Freedom Charter without class content.  We therefore congratulate the ANC Youth League for re-affirming a consistently democratic interpretation that people who gathered in Kliptown in 1955 gave to the economic clause of the Freedom Charter.

The nationalization of the decisive productive forces in our economy has always been the historical position of the South African working class.  Informed by the need to carry out radical national democratic revolution, at the head of which is the working class, the historical position has always been that the class character of the democratic state that will emerge from such a revolution would be such as to lay the basis for an uninterrupted transition to a socialist order.  The nationalization of decisive sectors in this context would then be directly in the interest of the revolutionary working class.  The historical position of the working class on nationalization has therefore always been based on the assumption that the democratic state, which is based on the will of the people, is best positioned as the instrument through which to centralize and control the use and development of the decisive forces of production in our economy. 

The call by the ANCYL and the South African working class for nationalization as a direct route towards popular control and ownership of the dominant forces of production in our economy is not without context.  The speaker who moved for the economic clause of the Freedom Charter in 1955 clearly articulated the position as follows: “It says ownership of the mines will be transferred to the ownership of the people.  It says wherever there is a Gold Mine there will no longer be a compound boss.  There will be a committee of the workers to run the Gold Mines.  Friends, we also say that wherever there is a factory and wherever there are workers who are exploited, we say that the workers will take over and run the factories.  In other words the ownership of the factories will come to the people.  Friends, there is one more thing...Let the Banks come back to the people, let us have a people’s committee to run banks” (1).  Embedded in this articulation is a militant aspiration for democratic, grass-root control of the country’s economy by direct producers.  

The discussion on nationalization is significant because the process of national liberation is precisely the return of the forces of production in the control and development of the oppressed people.  In the current context, it can be argued that oppression as such has been done away with. However the fact of domination of the national productive forces by the white minority remains.  Historically viewed, this domination is what constitutes colonialism. The progress of the NDR in economic terms would therefore be measured by the extent to which the national productive forces are dominated by black people in general, Africans in particular.  As long as white people continue to determine the development of the productive forces, they will continue to shape the direction and content of economic development of our country, to the exclusion of the masses of our people. 

Nevertheless, the call for nationalization underscores another important point.  Black people are not homogeneous in class terms.  There are therefore latent contradictions among them based on their class location.  Consequently the class character of national liberation will depend on the extent to which the various classes exercise control and ownership of the national forces of production as these are transferred to the people.  The BEE model of effecting national liberation has sought to make the black bourgeoisie the class among the historically oppressed, which predominantly captures the transfer of the forces of production to the people.  This model has failed. The beneficiaries of BEE have not increased the well-being of the people.  Within the context of BEE, income distribution worsened, the education system continues to fail our youth, an ailing health system that corrodes the life-span of the people, and the working class continues to suffer the scourge of marginalization and unemployment. 

Based on these observations, the ANC Youth League’s resolve to press on with the nationalization of the mines is an important contribution to the policy discourse of our movement. Through this important intervention, the ANC Youth League acknowledges that the narrow and elitist form of transferring the country’s wealth to the oppressed people, which BEE sought to do, is either a step sideways if not a step backwards, from the standpoint of the basic tenets of our revolution. The League therefore urges us to elaborate on the concrete forms through which the ownership and control of our economy can be broadened.

The patterns of ownership and control of our economy are not sustainable.  A failure to realize the link between backlogs in social delivery and the structure of ownership of our economy constitutes the greatest danger that stands to alienate our movement from the masses.  The discourse that traps the movement to narrowly focus on delivery, fails to come to terms with the fact that, as the colonial character of our economy reproduces itself, it in turn reproduces social and economic deprivation on a higher scale, thereby requiring the democratic state to put in an ever growing amount of resources, which will be difficult to amass because of the private ownership of the decisive sectors in which surplus value is produced in this country.  It high time that the gap between the needs of our people and the resources available in the hands of the state be closed.

By resolving on the concrete forms through which the people as a whole can share in the country’s wealth, the ANC Youth League has laid the basis for a coherent basis for unity among the motive forces of our revolution.  The working class has two major forms through which it can exercise ownership and control of the economy: democratic state ownership and co-operative establishments. It is within the context of democratic state ownership that the contribution of the Youth League is located. 

Whilst we fully support the League’s call to nationalize the mines, our contribution to this discussion highlights (a) the need to broaden this call as a means to give practical effect to the potential economic gains that can be made from state-ownership of our mineral wealth.  The Freedom Charter’s link between mineral wealth and monopoly industry is instructive in this regard.  The two cannot be separated but must be carried along as a package.  The reasoning behind this assertion is elaborated below and (b) the need to be clear about the compensation and the non-compensation of existing owners when nationalization occurs.

Why Nationalisation?

The ANC Youth League has laid down a comprehensive background on why nationalization should be put on the agenda.  Based on a comprehensive review of the historical positions of the movement, partly captured in the speeches of our leaders and articulated in our historical documents, the Youth League has amply demonstrated that nationalization underpinned the understanding of the economic clause of the Freedom Charter. 

Nationalization is pariah to orthodox mainstream thinking, witness the vitriol and ridicule that the ANC Youth League has been subjected to.  Yet, not even a single systematic critique of the League’s position has been advanced by opponents of nationalization. The only intervention came from the deputy-secretary general of the SACP which, upon careful reading, is not a critique of the League’s position, but is rather an extension based on the concept of socialization.  As the mover of the economic clause of the Freedom Charter clearly articulates, the aspiration of the people in Kliptown was that of popular control based on the participation of direct producers in affairs of the enterprises that were to be transferred to the people.  The nationalization we are talking about is therefore informed by the democratic content of the state that we seek to build.

Besides the contribution by the SACP deputy-general secretary, there is no systematic opposition to nationalization.  In fact there is a general consensus among components of the Alliance that nationalization should be the policy of the democratic state going forward.  The issue revolves around what to nationalize.  As the resolutions of the latest Conferences indicate, for the SACP the “commanding heights of the economy” must be nationalized; SASOL and Mittal Steel are cited as examples of “strategic sectors” to be put in the hands of the state.  As Cosatu, we have also called for nationalization of “strategic industrial monopolies”.  In Polokwane, we identified “monopoly domination” as a stumbling bloc to our drive to transform the economy, although we never raised the issue of nationalization sharply.  The ANC Youth League in its contribution has come to a realization that regulation is not sufficient, rather direct state control and ownership is necessary.

Those who oppose nationalization revert to the old liberal dogma that state-owned enterprises are badly run, and privately owned enterprises are supposedly better run.  We do not have to mention that the recent global crisis was a result of privately-run financial institutions.  Need we remind our opponents, who appear to have short memories, that the Enron saga had nothing to do with state control and ownership. Have they forgotten the massive catastrophe that Long-Term Capital Management, which was run by the finest among bourgeois economists, nearly brought to the American people? We further add that the massive costs that have crippled the budgets of some of our departments and metros arose because of greed by privately owned monopolies, especially in the cement industry.  South Africa is a savannah of profiteering, even with the Competition Commission and Tribunal.

The costs of private monopoly cannot be quantified in simple rands and cents.  Nevertheless, it is telling to recall the fines that were levied against some of the monopolies that dominate our economy. SASOL, which led a fertilizer cartel, was fined R188 million, for having engaged in this behaviour for almost 10 years. Mittal Steel was fined R691.8 million for having contractually forced those to whom it was selling steel, not to pass on the low prices that it was selling the steel at to downstream industries. Tiger-Brands was fined R98.7 million for participating in bread and milling cartels, Foodcorp was fined R46 million and Pioneer has recently been fined R195 million.  These fines are almost the size of budgets of government departments, or programmes within these departments.

The problem with having privately run monopolies on the one hand and the reliance on regulation on the other is that it is inherently difficult for competition authorities to detect misconduct as soon as it arises.  This lag in the policy response makes the costs of the misconduct to far outweigh the fines that are ordinarily imposed, even if such fines are thought to be calculated with the utmost detail. In any event, these monopolies know fully well the socio-economic challenges that our country faces, yet they choose to behave in a manner that does not “assist the well-being of the people”.  It is partly on these grounds that the formations in the Alliance are calling for nationalization.

Nationalization eliminates this.  Through state-ownership, the pricing of goods and services will be such as to reflect the basic economic costs of production.  Because the state is a not-for-profit institution, such pricing will go a long way in lowering the costs of production for those sectors that rely on the nationalized sectors for their inputs.  Nationalization is structurally feasible and beneficial particularly when it id directed at those sectors that produce primary inputs to the national productive process.  The mining sector, the petro-chemical sector, the telecommunications sector, the steel sector, the food sector are all critical sectors that need to be brought within the nationalization discussion.

Mark-ups are too high upstream the industrial value-chain.  For example, Mittal Steel gets iron-ore as an input from the mining sector.  The steel is produced and fed to metal fabricators and other manufacturing activities that are steel-intensive, and sectors such as construction.  However the mark-ups that characterize industry upstream are relatively high because of monopoly domination, even if cartelization has not occurred.  The very nature of private monopoly will create a mark-up over cost, depending on the extent of the demand for the goods and services that they produce.  Furthermore, because these monopolies occupy a position in the value-chain, they also have power to determine the price at which they are willing to pay for their inputs. 

Because of the large mark-ups upstream, firms downstream are constrained from increasing their competitiveness.  Large mark-ups upstream translate into higher costs downstream.  Firms downstream are thus squeezed from the cost side by monopolies and they are damaged from the revenue side by competition with imports, because of the trade liberalization that occurred, particularly since the 1980’s.  Mainstream advocates argue that the reason for the collapse of our manufacturing sector is that we do not have skills, wages are high and our technologies are not modernized.  But they do not mention that the lack of modernization of technology is a function of historical profitability, which has been severely constrained by upstream monopoly pricing.  They also create an impression that labour costs significantly drive down competitiveness, but they fail to mention that income distribution, even at a sector level, remains appalling.  Therefore in real terms it is not labour cost that is too high rather it is the costs of other inputs which are mainly sourced from monopoly industries.

The lack of competitiveness by downstream industries and the degree of monopoly upstream structurally creates unemployment, despite the lack of skills that our people suffer from.  Private monopoly domination alone, even if there are the best skills in the world in our country, will create a structural unemployment of resources, particularly labour.  Because of their perverse bias towards monopolies, mainstream economists have hardly mentioned monopoly domination as a key driver of unemployment in our economy. With high unemployment, a whole host of costs arise, e.g. the costs of supplying healthcare, education, and other basic services for the unemployed get transferred to fiscal authorities.  Social problems that arise from this unemployment, such as disintegration of social cohesion and crime, economic exclusion, which hampers the process of nation-building, are some of the costs to which we cannot attach rands and cents.

These costs are what our society pays for having privately controlled and owned monopolies.  In our view these costs are too high compared to the challenges that may be faced when these monopolies are state controlled, democratically managed and the accounting profits that they make being transferred to the coffers of the national treasury.    

It is for these reasons that we argue that the call by the ANC Youth League needs to be broadened.  Nationalizing the mining sector alone will not significantly address the issues that the League raises, issues of beneficiation for example, unless we also tackle the monopolies that exists in the value-chain of the beneficiation processes that the League wants to promote.  At the level of principle, we want to ensure that nationalization promotes the well-being of our people and does not enrich the monopolies that are upstream or somewhere in the inter-mediate links of the value chain.

Identifying Candidate Sectors for Nationalization

Sectors that should be nationalized should be those that a) are based on natural wealth, the heritage of all South Africans, b) are characterized by large firms with significant monopoly power and c) play a decisive role in the performance of the sectors that drive our growth path.  Sectors that come to mind are the ICT sector, which is dominated by a few large corporations, including the cellular phone industry.

The starting point is the mines.  Mines supply the basic primary inputs to all industries, especially metals and energy.  Coal mines, because they are privately owned, add a mark-up over costs as a way of realizing profit.  These profit margins enter Eskom’s costs, which push up the price for electricity.  What is of critical importance in recent years has been the increased financialization of primary commodity markets.  Coal and other commodities are now part of the assets that on which financial speculation occurs.  This means that the prices of these primary commodities can drastically inflate on the basis of speculative activity, not because of fundamental forces.  State ownership of coal mines in this context will de-link coal prices completely from speculative activity, because all coal will be monopolized by the state, which then channels it appropriately at prices that reflect average cost.  This will significantly lower the cost of producing electricity and will contribute towards the lowering of the cost of living and that of production in the entire economy. 

Some mines also produce commodities that can put the state in good stead to earn foreign exchange.  Part of the raw material will still be exported in the transition period towards a full-blown development of beneficiation processes.  During this interim period, the state will need foreign exchange.  Such foreign exchange will now be owned by the state, which will increase fiscal capacity to import essential capital equipment for which no domestic productive capacity exists.  This will also ease the tax burden on citizens, which will be covered by the profits that would be made from state ownership of the mines.

The mining sector is a primary supplier of metal ores, from which metals are derived.  The significant impact of eliminating private ownership on the metals sector will be to reduce the costs of production of basic and synthetic metals, which play an important role in the manufacturing sector, especially in the machinery and transport equipment sectors. From the analysis above, the sectors with the largest import penetration are transport equipment and machinery sectors.  Part of this problem is due to the lack of competitive pricing of these items domestically, which arises from the large mark-ups that exist upstream.

However, nationalizing the mines, particularly those that produce iron ore and other raw material inputs required to manufacture steel, will not have the desired effect if the monopoly that exists in the steel sector is not broken.  Consequently, the nationalization of Arcelor-Mittal should be a critical step in the improvement of the competitiveness of our economy.  In September 2009, it was recommended by the Competition Commission that Arcelor-Mittal be charged 10% of its annual turnover in South Africa and from its exports during 2008. The abuse of monopoly power, whilst it can be penalized, has far-reaching impact beyond the supposed costs that should be reflected by such penalties.  The destruction of competitiveness downstream, the stifling of job-creation, etc. are all costs that South Africa bears for being dominated by monopolies.

The petrochemicals sector plays an important role in the growth path proposed in this paper. The relationship between the agriculture and the petrochemicals sector is important; the sourcing of fertilizers and the pipes that are used to set up irrigation systems, the chemicals used for pest control, the chemicals used for ripening agricultural produce and the plastic products used for packaging by farmers, should be at the lowest cost. If the proportion of the cost of farming is dominated by the cost of petrochemical products, these costs will just be transferred to consumers by farmers. The petrochemical sector also plays an important role in the piping of houses and the manufacturing of tyres. For the state to be in a position to further minimize the cost of delivering houses, it is critical that this sector be nationalized. Nationalization of the sector will also add to the cutting of costs in the transport sector through lower prices for rubber made components of automobiles. Given the centrality of this sector, it is important that SASOL be nationalized and put to the service of national industrialization.  This will eliminate its monopoly power and drastically reduce its mark-up.

Another sector that is dominated by a few monopolies is the cement industry.  Its importance in the construction of houses and in the delivery of built infrastructure is as important as the steel industry, which supplies construction with reinforcers and finishings. The cement industry must therefore be nationalized in order to bring down the costs of public infrastructure and housing delivery. The precise amount by which these costs can be lowered can be calculated, and these monies can be used to finance the development path.

The democratic state must nationalize all land.  This will empower the state to plan economic and social development by allocating land for productive and residential purposes without having to pay large sums of money in order to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans. Land is a national heritage, like natural resources, and it is a scarce resource. For these and other reasons, the state can raise further revenue by leasing all land that is used for productive or business purposes, including land that is being under-utilized.  Currently, there are vast tracts of land that are privately owned and under-utilized, some have absentee landlords.  Such misuse of a national resource threatens the food security of our country and poses barriers for the expansion of food production as a means to reduce the inflationary pressures that may arise from the growth path.

The financial sector plays an important role in channelling resources throughout the economy.  Because of its strategic significance, as we have pointed out above, the Reserve Bank will have to be nationalized as the first step towards centralizing money and credit creation in the hands of the democratic government.  The banking system is currently issuing credit on the basis of Reserve bank money.  This credit is issued to households, firms and government at a higher interest rate. Nationalizing the banking system will cut out the middleman, by creating a state banking system that will charge minimum interest to all.

To Compensate or Not to Compensate

When considering nationalization, some of our critics have raised the question of the financing of such a policy.  They argue that our country has limited resources and therefore cannot afford the policy.  However, if the process is conducted as a total confiscation, then this question does not arise.  However, given the nature of our political settlement this option seems to be practically not possible.  The Youth League has put forward models where the state does not take complete control, but nevertheless is a dominant force in shareholding of the targeted entities.

These models are, of course welcome, and are subject to discussion.  However we should avoid the semantic debate whether a situation where the state dominates as a shareholder can be called “nationalization”.  What is important is that the state will have direct influence on the direction and nature of resource use to ensure that the well-being of the people is promoted.  The critical question is whether our country is positioned to adopt nationalization as a policy from the financial capacity point of view.

In our analysis the continued costs that the country suffers from private monopoly domination is too high to be ignored in this discussion.  We are already paying the price of private monopoly, are our opponents saying that this price is low compared to costs of buying out current shareholders? In any event we need to take a closer look at this question, because these monopolies were created either because of state intervention or because of the natural resource base upon which their businesses are founded.
In the first instance, the manner in which the political settlement was reached constrains some of the mechanisms through which nationalization can be implemented.  Nevertheless there is scope to expropriate without compensation, some of the capitalists that have emerged in the past 15 years.  Particularly the BEE capitalists gained access to the means of production on the grounds that they were black.  For these reasons that state can save a lot of resources if these capitalists are expropriated without compensation, so that the national means of production that they have are placed in the hands of the democratic state.  We are aware that these capitalists may have contracted debt to acquire these resources.  What needs to be assessed is the extent to which the state can repudiate this debt in an attempt to fundamentally transform the ownership patterns in our economy.

The state can in some instances pay in from the taxpayer’s kitty in order to acquire the national productive forces.  However, this can be done by ensuring that the firms that are to be nationalized issue special shares that are bought by government at a discount, because these shares are for the advancement of the national effort.  There are other ways in which the cheapening of the shares by companies for the purposes of state ownership can be achieved, but these need further elaboration.    


The discussion on the nationalization of the mines, which has been re-opened by the ANC Youth League, offers an opportunity for the working class to assert its perspectives and ensure that efforts at fundamental economic transformation reach the vast majority of our people.   For these reasons Cosatu will remain steadfast behind the Youth League in its call for the nationalization of the mines.

Cosatu urges the ANC Youth League to assist in building the maximum possible coalition of left forces to ensure that our revolution produces thorough-going outcomes.  This includes engaging in bilateral discussions with all the formations of the Alliance and mobilising the Progressive Youth Alliance behind its programme.  The Youth League and Cosatu must also join forces to mobilize our communities.  This will involve mastering the art of mass base support, key to which is the mobilization of the working class.  For our part, we will mobilize the South African working class to push for the nationalization of the commanding heights of our economy. 

We further urge the ANC Youth League to adopt a broader view of the matter.  We argue that nationalizing the mines may have little effect if the monopolies to which the mines sell their products continue to be owned privately.  The key to promoting beneficiation, job creation and improved competitiveness is to dismantle private monopoly ownership of strategic industries such as steel, petro-chemicals, telecommunications, energy, food production and distribution. Those who detract us based on arguments relating to the costs of the programme of nationalization and the lack of confidence in our democratic state to manage the economy, undermine and under-estimate the extent to which private monopoly domination is responsible for the current socio-economic challenges that we face. 

K. Luckhardt and B. Wall. (1980).  Organize or Starve: The History of the South African Congress of Trade Unions.  Lawrence and Wishart, London, p. 337.

Floyd Shivambu

Since the release of the discussion document on Nationalisation of Mines at the end of January 2010, the ANC Youth League has received satisfactory levels of constructive engagement with the entire perspective. The inputs, particularly from renowned academics, public intellectuals, members of the ANC, the alliance, and importantly ordinary people at grassroots level are particularly appreciated. They are appreciated because most did not only identify the problems and weaknesses in the perspective, but provided concrete solutions on how a better and more effective method of mines’ nationalisation should be ushered in by the democratic State. This does not however mean that there were no detractors, who sought to divert our attention from the strategic questions raised in the perspective.

Now the input by Comrade Joel Netshitenzhe is not part of detractors, but represents a conservative ideological wave in the ANC. This ideological wave oddly believes that some of the tactical retreats taken upon transition by the ANC-led liberation movement constituted total capitulation. The wave has been dominant in the state since the democratic breakthrough in 1994, and pretends oblivion to the reality that whilst commendable, ANC’s efforts to transfer wealth to the ownership of the people as a whole have not been adequate to decisively break the racial, class and gender dialectic of colonial-cum-apartheid repression. This ideological wave begun from the premise that the colonial economy and spatial development patterns did not need to be radically changed, but polished with a hollow hope that it might make today better than yesterday.

This ideological wave underpinned the adoption of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy, which achieved some level of fiscal stability, yet dismally failed to achieve its own strategic objectives-mainly economic growth levels, investments and creation of jobs.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recently observed that “at least between the years 1995 – 2000, for which there is adequate data-economic growth was associated with declining incomes across households at all income levels, but with the sharpest income declines occurring among the least well off” (1). The ideological wave further underpins a national spatial development perspective that basically says much attention, efforts and resources should be dedicated to apartheid centres of economic potential, whilst other areas are reserved as suppliers of labour and natural resources.

In its official input to the ANC Youth League’s perspective on Nationalisation of Mines, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) observes this ideological wave and says it had “sought to present the historical approach of the ANC as some form of social democracy, inserted to address a colonial situation.  The economic ideology that underpins this tendency finds expression in a watered down version of the interpretation of the Freedom Charter.  They present to the current generation of the membership of our movement, and the people of South Africa as a whole, what can be characterized as Freedom Charter Lite-a Freedom Charter without class content.  We therefore congratulate the ANC Youth League for re-affirming a consistently democratic interpretation that people who gathered in Kliptown in 1955 gave to the economic clause of the Freedom Charter” (2). The ANC Youth League welcomes the congratulations and re-affirms that the Freedom Charter will never be hijacked by anyone for whatever narrow purpose.

Consistent with the broader thrust of the ANC’s strategic vision as contained in the Freedom Charter, the ANC Youth League’s perspective on Nationalisation of Mines represents a decisive break from the not so neutral ideological disposition, which underpinned the first 16 years of democracy. Why? Such has to be the case because efforts to decisively break the unemployment and poverty challenges have not substantially succeeded under the policy trajectory which Comrade Joel argues should be retained. It is not an overstatement that whilst a considerable progress has been recorded in the empowerment of historically disadvantaged individuals, the broader thrust of the Freedom Charter’s objective for the people to share the country’s wealth has not been attained.

The ANC 52nd National Conference in Polokwane proclaimed that “Our vision of the economic transformation takes as its starting point the Freedom Charter`s clarion call that the People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!”. The conference further resolved to build “a developmental state [which] must ensure that our national resource endowments, including land, water, minerals and marine resources are exploited to effectively maximise the growth, development and employment potential embedded in such national assets and not purely for profit maximisation”. Now as part of giving practical meaning to these resolutions, the ANC Youth League proposes the democratic government’s nationalisation of Mines in order to achieve what Polokwane said we should strive for.

Comrade Joel Netshitenzhe could give a conservative interpretation and meaning to Polokwane resolutions, yet the ANC Youth League’s understanding is that they call upon the ANC government to make sure that the mineral resources are used to benefit all people, not few corporations. The ANC Youth League’s straightforward interpretation of the Polokwane resolution is that there ought to be greater State participation in the economy. Polokwane took these resolutions in appreciation of the reality that the status quo is not desirable and should be changed. We are also aware that attempts to misinterpret the Freedom Charter have recurrently failed and will never succeed under our guard of the revolution. The perspective on Nationalisation of Mines dedicated adequate time and space on how the ANC understood the transfer of mineral wealth to the ownership of the people as a whole and such has not changed.

In the first public lecture on nationalisation of mines organised by the ANC Youth League in Atlas studios, Auckland Park in October 2009, two members of the audience, Mining & Metallurgy students from the University of Johannesburg made two outstanding observations. The first student remarked that it is so strange that a security guard in the coal mines of Emalahleni got arrested for taking 25 kilograms of coal, whilst the mines steal coal everyday in loads and loads of trucks and transport it to Richards Bay, whilst ordinary people around the coal mines do not benefit from the coal. The second student remarked that she decided to study Mining Metallurgy because her home town, Sekhukhune had lots of mining opportunities, yet she could not get any access to opportunities from the mines just across where she resides, as those who worked at the mines said she should travel to Rustenburg or Johannesburg if she wanted opportunities.

Unlike those who were around Mpanza, ingwenya in Makeni, Lusaka, our concerns are not about abstractions of whether nationalised mines will lead to socialism or not, but inspired by the objective suffering of our people and the opportunities which young people do not get in the democratic dispensation. Our concern is the reality that the colonial features of the South African economy are still vivid, exporting virtually all natural resources and importing finished goods and products, but also enriching the white minority at the expense of the black majority. As youth, we know that South Africa produces platinum group metals and is home to more than 70% of the world reserves, yet most of us do not know how platinum looks like and what it is used for. Statistics recurrently point to the reality that black people and Africans in particular do not own anything above 5% of South Africa’s wealth, yet they constitute more than 80% of the South African population. As we have argued in the ANCYL document, this does not mean that this wealth should be transferred to a few black elite. On the contrary, the public ownership and control, institutionalised through the state will enable the people to determine the production and distribution of our wealth.

Comrade Joel Netshitenzhe observes that the ANC’s interpretation of the Freedom Charter has neither been static, nor homogeneous, yet argues that the ANC Youth League’s view on Nationalisation is inconsistent with the latter day interpretations of the Freedom Charter. It can never be correct that anything that does not agree with Comrade Joel Netshitenzhe’s interpretation of the Freedom Charter is counted outside the ANC’s official positions. It is a misleading and sad reflection because our reading of the Freedom Charter is consistent with how the ANC viewed it upon adoption in 1955 by the real Congress of the People and in 1956 by the ANC, wherein there were racialised inequalities alongside massive mineral wealth controlled by few conglomerates. Indeed the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955 amidst massive inequalities and economic subjugation of the black majority and Africans in particular, and the reality is that 55 years later, such has not changed. Attempts to substitute the Freedom Charter have always existed in the ANC and our generation vows that such can only be considered once the entirety of the Freedom Charter objectives and aims are realised.

It is our considered view that an absolute majority of South Africans agree with the nationalisation of mines, which should be directed towards the betterment of people’s lives and creation of decent employment for all. What seems to worry many commentators is the question of State capacity to manage and administer mines as state owned enterprises. Recurrently, a concern is raised around the perceived and/or real administrative challenges and glitches in ESKOM, SAA, and SABC. Worrying though is that a rather lame conclusion is made that because these institutions had problems, glitches and sometimes board squabbles; the state is generally incapable of managing corporations. This observation is sad and ignores the substantial factors relating to the management of state owned enterprises and their relationship with the state as a principle.

What is relieving amidst these observations is the fact that that the discussion document on nationalisation of mines foresaw the potential opposition to nationalisation on the basis of a supposition that the state is inherently incapable of managing corporations. In the document, the ANC Youth League said, “The State capacity to manage enterprises is doubted, often in comparison to the State’s oversight or lack thereof of key State owned enterprises such as the South African Airways (SAA), ESKOM, SABC and Denel. The comparison is not fair because in most instances, these have failed due to sheer criminality, mismanagement and patronage which characterised the most of these entities and very weak accountability systems. The capacity of the State to decisively intervene in SAA and ESKOM for instance was inhibited by lack of proper systems and legislative framework concerning the extent of interventions the State can make alongside Boards of Directors”. More often than not, the State’s only role in these enterprises is appointment of Boards with no clearly defined developmental mandates.

Further than that, all the state owned enterprises that are said to have failed were purely run on private sector principles, wherein progress and success is measured as per the profit margins, instead of concrete developmental outcomes such as employment creation and infrastructure investments. Concerning this aspect, the discussion document on nationalisation says that “the State Owned Mining Company’s progress should be measured as per its ability, capacity and coherent determination to create jobs, maximisation of the country’s gain from mineral resources, contribution to socio-economic development and assistance of communities where mining happens”. This is one principle that should guide all state owned enterprises and it finds adequate resonance in the ANC’s 52nd National Conference resolution that commits to “strengthening the role of state-owned enterprises and ensuring that, whilst remaining financially viable, SOEs, agencies and utilities - as well as companies in which the state has significant shareholding - respond to a clearly defined public mandate and act in terms of our overarching industrial policy and economic transformation objectives” (3).

In the process of questioning the state’s capacity to manage and oversee corporations, there is also some level of neo-liberal hypocrisy that is defined by a deliberate oblivion to the successes recorded in the SOE established by the post 1994 democratic government . The Petroleum, Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (Pty) Limited (PetroSA) owns, operates and manages South Africa`s commercial assets in the petroleum industry. Whilst legislated in the 1940s, PetroSA was officially established and given strategic leadership by the democratic government, run at board and management level by historically disadvantaged individuals, and is currently the country’s most successful petroleum corporation, even in comparison to privately owned petroleum corporations.

Despite infiltrating a highly competitive market, PetroSA is in the forefront of expanding South Africa’s capacity to refine oil. The 100% State owned PetroSA is currently using cutting-edge technology to establish a 400 000 barrel per day oil refinery (Project Mthombo) in Coega Industrial Development Zone in the Eastern Cape. The oil refinery has potential to create than 10 000 jobs for the people of the Eastern Cape and open lots of other upstream and downstream economic opportunities. Neo-liberals opposed to state ownership will not mention this reality because in their neo-liberal text books, innovation is solely a function of private ownership.

If there is ever any balanced comparison on how successful a State Owned Mining Company should be run, that comparison should be with PetroSA, because PetroSA trades with commodities in a highly competitive environment. The SOEs that are said to have failed are often said to have failed because of their internal management squabbles. But also the failed SOEs operate on private sector principles of narrow profit maximisation at the expense of everything else. Then the detractors of nationalisation of mines will raise false alarms and forever make lame attempts to link state ownership with inherent inefficiency and corruption. The collapse of the economy globally happened as a result of narrow capital accumulation models pursued by privately owned corporations, and they all relied on public finance for revival and sustainability. It appears that the neo-liberals who want to rubbish the role of the state in the economy only choose a handful of state owned enterprises that encountered difficulties and ignore the successes of ACSA and PetroSA. Efficiency of enterprises is not a function of shareholding, but a consequence of a variety of both subjective and objective conditions under which businesses operate.

The ANC Youth League accepts that in the management of vital economic resources such as minerals, a need will certainly arise for strong accountability systems and legislative guidelines of how mines are operated, buttressed by strong public accountability mechanisms. With the lessons derived from SAA, ESKOM, DENEL, and countries that are in minerals extraction partnerships, South Africa is suitably located to institutionalise a more effective, efficient and durable mechanism, systems and legislative framework to manage mines more efficiently. So the challenges of SAA and ESKOM should not serve as a discouragement to the State’s control and ownership of mines, but as a lesson of what should be done moving forward, particularly that mines nationalisation has lots of other benefits as argued in the document.

In a previous intervention and response to this conservative ideological current in the ANC, we argued that the question of when we nationalise Mines should be interrogated within the context of dialectical materialism, not through raising of false alarms intending at causing panic amongst revolutionaries in the cause of a National Democratic Revolution. In Philosophy and Class Struggle, Dialego says, “if we stress the materialist component of our philosophy at the expense of the dialectical, the result will not be ultra-leftism but its twin opposite - right-wing opportunism: the tendency to overestimate the strength of the enemy so that the superficial appearances of the moment are mistaken for the deeper trends at work in historical reality. Indeed, legalistic illusions which stem from an insufficiently dialectical approach to politics, may even lead to the kind of unprincipled compromises which make short term gains, but weaken the movement as a whole” (4).

Encountered with a bigger difficulty of a per se underdeveloped nation and almost non-existent socialist consciousness amongst the few workers in Russia in the early 1900s, Vladimir Lenin never raised false alarms. He was instead inspired by the existent conditions and documented a clear programme titled “What is to be done?” Lenin never asked “Should we do something”; nor did he ask “whether conditions are favourable for something to be done”. As a revolutionary, he documented a clear programme on what was going to happen and virtually all of the things he said were to be done happened. He understood that as a revolutionary, you do not fold your arms and wait for the balance of forces to be in your favour, but should work towards ensuring that balance of forces are in your favour.

The conditions in our country are currently favourable to a revolutionary programme and that is conclusively objective. Affirming this observation, the ANC Strategy & Tactics says, “Overall, since 1994, the balance of forces has shifted in favour of the forces of change. It provides the basis for speedier implementation of programmes to build a truly democratic and prosperous society. The legal and policy scaffolding for this is essentially in place. Most of society wants this to happen”. Various other objective conditions provide reason why we have an adequate space to could move decisively on altering property relations. The people are already on the streets protesting for better lives, the ANC should mobilise the whole of our people and refocus their struggles to be directed towards real economic emancipation.

The ANC Youth League’s recent visit to Venezuela discovered amongst other things that the people can immediately benefit from the State’s democratic ownership and control of key sectors of the economy, and oil in this case. Venezuela’s democratic control and ownership of oil refutes a neo-liberal scarecrow that any form of State ownership will repulse foreign investors. The United States, which has recurrently failed to remove the revolutionary leadership of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, continues to be the biggest consumer of Venezuelan oil, and most of its corporations and brands continue to do business in Venezuela.

Forward to nationalisation of mines forward!


Pollin, R. Epstein, G. Heintz, J. and Ndikumana, L. (2006) An Employment-Targeted Economic Program for South Africa. New York: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

COSATU (2010) “Towards the Nationalisation of Mines and Monopoly Industry”.  February 2010.  

ANC 52nd National Conference resolution of Economic Transformation, December 2007.

Dialego (1975) Philosophy and class struggle.

Towards a refined ANC minerals policy and strategy
By Paul Jordaan


The ANCYL has recently released a strategy document, “TOWARDS THE TRANSFER OF MINERAL WEALTH TO THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PEOPLE AS A WHOLE: a perspective on nationalisation of Mines”, (ANCYL 2010) which the ANC needs to assess and respond to. The critical issue would appear to be to refine a minerals policy & strategy that best assists the ANC in its historic task of releasing the productive forces for growth & development in order to create jobs, combat poverty and give the poor & dispossessed a better life. This paper sets out a backdrop for a vigorous discussion of the ANC’s mineral policies and strategy in order to achieve this.

ANC Minerals Policy

The key ANC policy & strategy documents that underpin its mineral policy & strategy are The Freedom Charter (1956), Ready to Govern (1992), the Reconstruction and Development Programme (1994) and its “Draft Mineral & Energy Policy Discussion Document” (1994).

The Freedom Charter states that “The national wealth of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the people; the mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole”.  

This was amplified at the ANC’s “Ready to Govern” Conference in 1992 which stated:

The mineral wealth beneath the soil is the national heritage of all South Africans, including future generations. As a diminishing resource it should be used with due regard to socio-economic needs and environmental conservation. The ANC will, in consultation with unions and employers, introduce a mining strategy which will involve the introduction of a new system of taxation, financing, mineral rights and leasing. The strategy will require the normalization of miners’ living and working conditions, with full trade union rights and an end to private security forces on the mines. In addition, the strategy will, where appropriate, involve public ownership and joint ventures. Policies will be developed to integrate the mining industry with other sectors of the economy by encouraging mineral beneficiation and the creation of a world class mining and mineral processing capital goods industry.

The key policy themes are firstly that minerals in the ground are part of the nation’s wealth, that workers and the nation should get their fair share of the wealth generated and that minerals mined are integrated into the rest of the economy through further processing (beneficiation) before export.

The RDP unpacks and reinforces this by stating that “specific (RDP) policies aim to expand the competitive advantage already enjoyed by the mining and capital and energy-intensive mineral processing and chemical industries that lie at the core of the economy and which provide the bulk of the country`s foreign exchange” (RDP In addition “RDP must strengthen and broaden upstream and downstream linkages between the burgeoning mineral-based industries and other sub-sectors of industry. A broad range of instruments will be deployed, including closer scrutiny of pricing policies for intermediate inputs. Where conglomerate control impedes the objectives, anti-trust policies will be invoked” (RDP and that “Policies must aim to reduce the gap between conglomerate control of a wide range of activities within the financial, mining and manufacturing sectors and sub-sectors, on the one hand, and the difficulties faced by small and micro enterprises in entering those sectors on the other.” (RDP

The RDP section on mining and minerals (4.5.1) sets out more comprehensive guidelines for our government and states that:

The current debate around the nationalisation of the mining companies would appear to be a good opportunity to reassess our progress in achieving the above RDP objectives, in the light of the new national and international situation, in order to produce a frank and honest “score-card” of our achievements and failures in the transformation of this important sector, so that we can determine our new set of priorities.

The ANC “Draft Mineral & Energy Policy Discussion Document” (1994) is a comprehensive roadmap and further unpacks the RDP into specific draft mineral policies and strategies for our new government, which cover minerals governance, minerals development and human resources. A key element of the draft policy is that mineral wealth beneath the soil of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, as per the Freedom Charter and the RDP, via the transfer of all mineral rights to the state to manage on behalf of the people. This was put into effect by the MPRDA (Minerals & Petroleum Development Act) of 2002 through the conversion of “old order” (private mineral rights) to “new order” (state mineral rights). This effectively “nationalised” the minerals in the ground and private sector companies were then given 25 year leases/concessions (mining licences) to exploit the nation’s mineral endowment. Accordingly, the key issue would appear to be whether or not this concessioning was done under terms and conditions that optimised the developmental impact for and on our people?

The Mining Charter does try to effect some of the linkages through the scorecard (see box below), but this is merely a “check-list” and does not even begin to tackle the seminal backward and forward linkages by imposing clear milestones. This is partly because the MPRDA itself does not make it clear that a license (concession) to exploit the nation’s mineral endowment is dependent on the concessionaire making the critical economic linkages in a structured and auditable manner.

Minerals for Development

This also seems to be the core thrust of the ANCYL document: “Previously South African mineral rights were owned either by the state or the private sector. This dual ownership system represented an entry barrier to potential new investors. The current Government`s objective is for all mineral rights to be vested in the State, with due regard to constitutional ownership rights and security of tenure. The MPRDA was also designed to release the monopoly stranglehold of five mining investment houses and allow entry by the aspirant black middle class entry into the mining industry. Thus instead of benefiting the population as a whole this limited ‘nationalization’ has benefited only a small comprador elite. These elite have entered mining in alliance with financial and mining interests from the USA, Canada, Australia, Russia and China, basically countering the noble intentions of the MPRDA.” (ANCYL 2010, #23).
The ANCYL document argues for the nationalisation of the mining operations (companies) in order to ensure that the developmental impact is maximised. The main impacts desired are:

However, it can be argued that all of these objectives could be achieved by a variety of policies, strategies and instruments without necessarily nationalising the mining operations (companies), which could have extremely negative impacts on growth and development in our country, including:

At best we would only be able to afford to take over marginal operations, on their last legs, with all of the unwanted closure and rehabilitation liabilities.
Whilst it is argued here that nationalisation of mining operations poses many dangers to the South African economy, it is also a fact that many of the desired development outcomes which are attributed to nationalisation are fundamentally achievable without resorting to the nationalisation of mining operations. It is shown in the rest of this paper there are far more effective ways of achieving substantial development impacts from a country’s mineral assets than by the state simply taking ownership of mining companies.
Although the ANCYL document arguments for nationalisation cover some of the beneficial impacts to be garnered from the judicious exploitation of our mineral endowment, there are in fact many more.
Even though not adopted as an ANC policy document, the African Union’s “Mining Vision” was adopted by the Heads of State in 2009, including South Africa. This document expands considerably on the potential beneficial impacts of a minerals endowment.


Africa Mining Vision:

“Transparent, equitable and optimal exploitation of mineral resources to underpin broad-based sustainable growth and socio-economic development”
This shared vision will comprise:


The AU’s Mining Vision document argues that the rise of China, India and other Asian economies (creating an unprecedented demand for minerals) “...provides a new opportunity for Africa to integrate its mineral sector into the local economies through creating the critical linkages. However, this will not happen automatically and will require an African Mining Vision and a set of appropriate strategies and interventions for the realization of that vision” (AU 2009)
It argues further that “The key elements to an African Mining Vision, that uses mineral resources to catalyse broad-based growth and development need to be, from looking at successful resource-based development strategies elsewhere, the maximisation of the concomitant opportunities offered by a mineral resource endowment, particularly the “deepening” of the resources sector through the optimisation of linkages into the local economy.
The principal resource endowment opportunities are:

State Interventions to Optimise the Developmental Impact

However, the African Mining Vision recognises that these linkages will not happen automatically (through “market forces”) and that diverse and targeted interventions will have to be made for them to be realised, such as:

Box: Example- The lost potential impact of concessioning the state’s manganese assets against developmental goals
In 2002/3 the state’s manganese assets were given a diverse group of B-B BEE companies that have failed to optimise the potential developmental impacts of this world-class mineral asset (possibly the best unexploited manganese property in the world).
Before these assets were “given” to the B-B BEE interests several steel majors had shown a great interest in acquiring them. This led to a high level check, in India & China, on the appetite for steel companies to establish a world scale steel plant in South Africa in exchange for this asset and the response was positive. Consequently it was proposed the then Minister of Minerals & Energy that the state’s unique manganese resources should rather be auctioned against the following criteria:

Unfortunately the then Minister rejected this proposal and instead gave these assets to several B-B BEE companies that lacked the resources to optimise the propulsive impact of the assets. A rough calculation on the potential jobs lost by this “give away” came up with a figure of over 100,000 jobs, mainly due to the impact of lowering steel prices to our manufacturing sector by 30% to 50%. After labour, steel is the most important input by value into our manufacturing sector, particularly capital goods. One of numerous opportunities lost!

Fixing the System

Unfortunately, although we ensured that mineral wealth beneath the soil of our country, the heritage of all South Africans, was transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole (as per the Freedom Charter and the RDP) via the transfer of all mineral rights to the state, we failed to maximise the beneficial developmental impacts for our people, when we concessioned them. To undo the wholesale handing out of 25-year renewable mineral concessions/licenses with minimal developmental conditions, will not be an easy task, but there are several measures that could be considered and debated:


Although the ANCYL document has brought to light some distressing failures in our management of the nation’s mineral endowment, particularly the failure to maximise the fiscal and developmental impacts, it does not necessarily follow that nationalisation of the mineral exploitation operations would constitute the best remedial action. On the contrary, nationalisation could have profound negative impacts on both the operations and international investor confidence. The ANC needs to debate and explore alternative policies, strategies and instruments that would optimise the developmental impact of the exploitation of our mineral deposits whilst still extant, such as the competitive and transparent concessioning of mineral assets to achieve both price discovery and the optimisation of impacts (jobs & linkages);  the imposition of a Resource Rent Tax to garner the differential rents embodied in rich deposits and the use of selective export tariffs on unprocessed minerals that could be viably beneficiated locally.

A first step would be for the ANCs ETC to extensively assess and debate this issue and to come up with guidelines on how the optimise the developmental impact of the nation’s resource endowment, to be taken to the NEC for discussion and to our members (branches) for their inputs.


Text Box: The South African Mining Charter  Due to South Africa’s peculiar 300 year history of European colonial and settler racial exclusion, including the mining migrant labour system and apartheid, all of which created gross racial economic distortions, the new democratic government and the mining industry entered into a “Mining Charter” in 2002, aimed at gradually overcoming the inherited distortions. The Charter was concretised through a “Scorecard” of targets and milestones (5 and 10 years) agreed to by the industry & government, which was used to qualify for New Order Mining Rights (when converting from the old colonial/apartheid era mining rights):  Human resource development:   	Has every employee been offered the opportunity to be functionally literate and numerate by 2005 and are employees being trained?  Have career paths and skills development plans been implemented for HDSA* employees?  Has the company developed systems to mentor empowerment groups?  Employment equity:  	Has the employment equity plan been published and has annual progress in meeting this plan been reported?  Has a plan been established to achieve HDSA participation in management of 40% within five years and is the plan being implemented?   Has the company identified a pool of talent and is this being fast-tracked?  Has a plan been devised to achieve participation by women of 10% by 2009 and is this plan being implemented?  Migrant & foreign labour:	Has the company subscribed to government and industry agreements to ensure non-discrimination against foreign migrant labour?  Mine community &  rural development:	Has the company co-operated in the formulation of integrated development plans (IDPs) and is it co-operating with government in implementing these plans in communities where mining takes place and in labour sending areas  Has the company engaged with local mining communities and those in labour-sending areas?  Housing & living conditions:	For company provided housing, has the mine in consultation with stakeholders established measures for improving housing, including the upgrading of hostels, conversion of hostels to family units and promotion of home ownership options for mine employees   Have measures been established to improve the nutrition of mine employees? What has been done to improve nutrition? Show plan to progress this overtime and demonstrate that plan is being implemented.  Procurement:	Have current levels of procurement from HDSA companies in terms of capital goods, consumables and services been identified?   Has commitment been made to a progression of procurement from HDSA companies over a three five year time frame in terms of capital goods, consumables and services, and to what extent has this been implemented?   Ownership & joint ventures:	What is being done to ensure the company achieves 15% HDSA participation in terms of ownership of equity or attributable units of production by 2009 and 26% by 2014?  Beneficiation:	Has the current level of beneficiation been identified?  Has the baseline level of beneficiation been identified and has the company noted the extent by which this will have to increase to qualify for an off-set?  Reporting:	Does the company report annually on progress made in meeting its commitments?  * HDSA = Historically Disadvantaged South Africans (excluded under colonialism & apartheid)


Umrabulo interviewed Limpopo Provincial Secretary, cde Joe Maswanganyi on progress and challenges

Umrabulo: What are the major achievements of the ANC in Limpopo since 1994?

Maswanganyi:  The province inherited four administrations,(i.e. Gazankulu; Venda; Lebowa and the Transvaal Provincial Administration) and three of those were organized along tribal lines. To date, we have succeeded to amalgamate these administrations into one strong provincial administration. We successfully overcame tribal and ethnic tendencies, which were characteristic of the apartheid era. We have been consistent since 1994 in achieving over 80% electoral support in both the local and general elections. The provincial GDP has grown from 5.6% in 1996 to 6.8% in 2006, registering the highest percentage increase in the country. The province’s crime level is lowest in the country and we were able to overcome the challenges of social fabric-crime like violence against women and children. The ANC has had significant membership growth and we currently have a membership of no less than 89 000, which is the highest ever. In the same vein that we successfully hosted the first MK Conference in the country in 1992, we hosted a successful 52nd National Conference of the ANC. Limpopo was the first province to launch the ANC Veterans League.

However, we are faced with the following challenges.  Firstly, the emergence of the “Shumela Venda” campaign, which is a national campaign with its roots in the province. The Shumela Venda campaign  aims to organize people along a narrow Venda nationalism. Secondly, recruiting minority groups into the ANC is also amongst our main challenges.

Umrabulo:  Briefly describe the state of organization of the ANC in the province, in the context of a consistent electoral support.  Do our membership, state of branches and activities reflect this overwhelming support?

Maswanganyi: The overwhelming support by the masses in the province is not directly translated into membership of the ANC in the province. This support is a product of the revolutionary legacy of the ANC as a liberation movement whose policies and goals are supported by both card carrying members and supporters in general. The majority of the rural masses, and in particular the elders have embraced the ANC because of its contribution in improving their quality of life.

The ANC in Limpopo has grown in strength since 1994 and this can be reflected in:

In our quest to motivate our structures to improve on their organizational work, the province has reciprocated the national award system to incentivize branches to work more harder.

Umrabulo: How does the organization manage the relationship with governance, including innovative practices from the province, and challenges?

Maswanganyi:  The ANC holds regular meetings with its deployees in government.  These include special PGCs with councilors on service delivery, meetings with government departments and municipalities on service delivery in relation to the elections manifesto. Annual makgotla are also held where the ANC evaluates the progress made in implementing the election manifesto. Though the province has established ANC study groups in the Legislature, they however need to be strengthened in order to enhance the influence of the ANC on governance matters. We have also institutionalized continuous engagements between the leadership at provincial and regional level with caucuses as a platform to update members of latest developments in organization and get feedback from deployees The ANC also convened sectoral summits like education and economic summit which adopted Limpopo Vision 2030. Limpopo 2030 guided the drafting of the provincial employment growth and development plan.

Umrabulo: Limpopo is known throughout the history as a leader of rural resistance.  Does the province still draw from this tradition and how?

Maswanganyi:  The ANC still draws from the inspiration of rural resistance, and in particular, the role of our warrior Kings such as Makhado, Nghunghunyane and Sekhukhune in fighting colonialism. With our well documented history of popular revolt, we have sought to recognize the contribution of our forebears by amongst others erecting statues as well as renaming some of our towns after some of these warrior Kings. We continue to enhance our working relationship with traditional leaders. Though we have good case studies in terms of land restitution like the successful land claim by the Makgoba community, land restitution is still a major challenge in the province.

Umrabulo: What role has ANC structures play in preparing the ground for SA2010 World Cup and for our people to be ambassadors during the tournament?

Maswanganyi:  The leadership is ensuring that ANC structures are involved in popularizing Football Friday. Members are encouraged to wear Bafana Bafana T-shirts and display flags, including on their cars. We also encourage everybody to learn to sing the national anthem and thus inculcating the spirit of patriotism amongst our people. Our branches and members continuously participate in activities organized by the Local Organising Committee and government around the 2010 world cup. In this regard, Limpopo like the rest of the country also witnessed a high interest and demand for 2010 soccer tickets.

Umrabulo:  With regards implementation of our five Manifesto priorities, what progress are we making on each of these and what are the three main challenges we face in the province to fulfill our election mandate?

Maswanganyi:  Limpopo 2030, the Provincial ANC Economic Strategy has identified areas of focus that the province must deal with towards the attainment of the electoral manifesto of the ANC and the overall improvement of the quality of life of our people. Suffices to say that elements of the ANC Economic strategy have been translated into a government plan of action known as the Limpopo Employment, Growth and Development Plan. A lot more still needs to be done to implement the identified high impact programmes and projects.

Our challenges are as follow:

Umrabulo:  Limpopo is also known as a mining province, how does the mining sector fit into the Provincial Growth and Development strategy?  

Maswanganyi:  The province is responsible for about 9% of South Africa’s income from mining. The Mineral Wealth Boom of August 2008 reported that about 400 prospecting and mining licenses have been issued for the Limpopo area. Mining and quarrying contributes 22% of the Provincial Gross Domestic Product in Limpopo. There is a huge potential in coal mining especially around the area of Lephalale. Discussions are underway in the province to explore possibilities of beneficiation initiatives for the province.

Umrabulo:  Finally, the rural development and agriculture strategy and programme will be an important component of the Limpopo development strategy.  What contribution does agriculture make to the provincial economy, and what are the strategic pillars to expand this sector?

Maswanganyi:  Whereas the national pilot on rural development was launched in Limpopo at Muyexe, the province has also identified 25 integrated rural nodes. Progress has also been made around the Kgatla area as part of the provincial focus towards implementing the government’s programme on War against Poverty.  Primary Agriculture contributes 2,6% to the national GDP and approximately 9% of formal employment. In the province however, the sector contributes 39,7% of employment opportunities. The province has a competitive edge over the rest of the country with regards to the citrus, avocado and mango industries.

Foundations for a Developmental State: A case for engineering education
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

The goal of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) is to establish a society in which the citizens are intellectually, socially, economically and politically empowered. In order to achieve these noble goals, certain revolutionary conditions need to be in place in order to mobilize social, economic and political forces to capacitate the democratic state to galvanize the productive forces that would ensure that these goals are achieved. One school of thought regarding the mechanism through which these productive forces can be galvanized, which is the subject of this article, is to reorient the state as a dynamic developmental state. By so doing, sufficient productive forces will be unleashed to advance industrialization and this will principally require significant investment into technical education in primary, secondary and tertiary levels. This technical education should focus on creating a cadre that has sufficient analytical, numeracy, creative and communication skills.

Developmental State
A developmental state is a state where government is intimately involved in the macro and micro-economic planning in order to grow the economy. It has generally been observed that successful developmental states are able to advance their economies much faster than regulatory states that use regulations to manage the economy.

As an example, it took the USA approximately 50 years to double its economy while it took China, which is a developmental state, approximately 10 years to double its economy. Based on these findings, is it logical to infer that for a country to meet its social, economic and political obligations, it should become a developmental state? What are some of the characteristics that define a developmental state and is it possible to establish such characteristics in South Africa?

Characteristics of a Developmental State
In order to understand the concept of a developmental state, it is important to highlight some of the characteristics of a developmental state. Developmental states generally put strong emphasis on engineering education and in particular the development of high numeracy and technical skills within the population. This technically oriented education is strategically used to capacitate government structures particularly the bureaucracy. What emerges out of this strategy is that the political and bureaucratic layers are populated by knowledgeable people who have sufficient tools of analysis to be able to take leadership initiatives, based on sound scientific basis, at every level of decision making nodes within the government structures. Developmental states have been observed to be able to efficiently distribute and allocate resources and, therefore, invest optimally in critical areas that are the basis of industrialisation such as education. The complexity of the transformation agenda in South Africa makes the task of efficiently distributing and allocating resources difficult to achieve.

The other characteristic that has been observed in successful developmental states is economic nationalism. This characteristic is also observed in developed states such as the USA during tough economic times. The characteristic of the national question in South Africa, which makes the notion of “South Africaness” a highly complex concept given the vast diversity of the South African population, makes economic nationalism not a viable option in South Africa. The other characteristic of a developmental state is its emphasis on market share over profit. The developed segment of the South African capitalist system is sophisticated and it has a huge component of short term investments also known as “hot money”. This makes profit, particularly short term profit, a significant factor in the investment decision making process. Developmental states have been observed for their protection of their embryonic domestic industries and have also been observed to focus on aggressive acquisition of foreign technology. This they achieve by deploying their most talented students to overseas universities located in strategic and major centres of the innovation world and also by effectively utilizing their foreign missions.

Furthermore, they encourage and reward foreign companies that invest in building productive capacity such as manufacturing plants with the aim that the local industrial sector will in time be able to learn vital success factors from these companies. On constructing a harmonious social-industrial complex, developmental states strike a strategic alliance between the state, labour and industry in order to increase critical measures such as productivity, job security and industrial expansion. Even though developmental states do not create enemies unnecessarily and do not participate in the unnecessary criticism of countries with strategic technologies that they would like to acquire, they are, however, sceptical of copying foreign values without translating and infusing them with local characteristics.

Developmental states generally believe that they will attain state legitimacy through delivery of services to citizens rather than through a democratic process. In South Africa, state legitimacy is achieved through a democratic process however the main shortcoming is that the society has not reached an equilibrium stage where the feedback mechanism between voting pattern and service delivering reinforce each other.

Now that the characteristics of a developmental state have been highlighted it is important to briefly describe industrialisation because it is an important component of a developmental state.

The vital driver for success in developmental states is industrialisation. The goal of industrialisation is to create a country that produces goods and services with high added values. For example, instead of exporting minerals unprocessed, people can be employed to beneficiate these minerals and manufacture goods such as watches and thus add economic value to the final products. The process by which countries add aggregate economic values to the products and services they offer is directly dependant on the level of industrialisation in the country’s economy. The South African economy can be segmented into the so-called “two economies” where one part is highly industrialised and the other is underdeveloped. For South Africa to unify these “two economies” and tackle some of the serious problems it faces, it needs to build a developmental state whose foundations are outlined in the next section.

Foundations for Building a Developmental State
How does South Africa build a robust developmental state? What are the important characteristics of the industrial strategy that would get South Africa to advance at the fastest rate possible? What are the vital drivers in South Africa’s social sphere that would accelerate development? On building a robust developmental state two aspects are vital and these are to vastly increase the level of educational attainment in the South African population and to increase the knowledge content in society particularly in the field of mathematics, science and technology.

In particular, South Africa ought to vastly increase the numeracy and technical skills in the population and this can be achieved by introducing a robust early education strategy. This is because by the time the young learners go to school they have already acquired all the skills they require to develop numeracy and visualisation skills. It is vital that South Africa produces a cadre of highly educated people who are able to conduct advanced research and development to identify important areas of growth potential, plan the executions of the required solutions and monitor the implementation of the solutions proposed with a view of correcting the mistakes and reinforcing the successes.

The vital characteristic of South Africa’s industrial policy should be manufacturing but this should be synchronised with other key strategies such as rural development and agricultural policy. Since manufacturing is highly dependant on the productivity and the efficiency of the workers, it is vital that government, labour and industry reach a strategic pact that is focused on long term strategic goals rather than short term goals. As South Africa expands its agricultural output, particularly in rural areas, it ought to create local industrial centres where some of these agricultural products can be canned and preserved.

South Africa ought to strengthen its co-operative strategies so that small businesses are able to efficiently integrate into the value chain between agricultural production and international markets. In summary, the foundation to building a developmental state is to develop: (1) an educated population with high levels of numeracy and technical skills; (2) a knowledgeable society with high levels of scientific literacy and appreciates the role of engineering in building a knowledge economy; (3) a harmonious society with strategic partnerships amongst labour, government, industry and society; and (4) a society that efficiently allocates and distributes resources. In order to build this foundation it is important to pay a particular attention to engineering education which is the subject of the next section.

Role of Engineering Education
Engineering education is an enabling driver that is needed for South Africa to succeed as a developmental state. One of the main characteristics of successful developmental states is that they created an extensive bureaucratic layer consisting of mainly engineers who have high technical, numerical and analytical skills. The need for planners who are highly numerate, technically-literate and posses highly developed visualisation skills, to be able to plan in large cycles that extend over long time periods, will require technical schools to develop capacity to produce graduates with high competence in numeracy, visualization and innovation.

The need to produce technology workers that are able to adapt advanced manufacturing strategies to local settings requires broad engineering education that produces graduates that are highly competent in technical skills, analytical as well as communication skills. In order to achieve all these, South Africa ought to relook at the efficiency of the primary and secondary education so that the supply of students to engineering faculties is improved in both quality and quantity. Special attention ought to be paid to reconfiguring the social sphere so that the culture of appreciating the value of engineering education is entrenched.

But more importantly South Africa needs to improve the subsidy funding formula to universities so that engineering education is efficiently funded to facilitate the attainment of the developmental expectations of the country. South Africa needs to internationalize the university system so that local students can be exposed to different and much more diverse ways of thinking and learning.

In conclusion the foundation for building a developmental state will be dependant on South Africa’s ability to establish a skilled population with high levels of numeracy, technical and communication skills, creating a harmonious society with strategic partnerships amongst labour, government, industry and society as well as efficiently allocating and distributing resources.

Chang, HJ (1999). “The Economic Theory of the Development State.” Pp. 182-199 in Meredith Woo-Cummings (ed.), The DevelopmentState. Ithaca, NY: Cornall University Press.
Marwala, T. (2007a) “Prospects for improved skills capacity.” Umrabulo, Vol. 28, pp. 6-8.
Marwala, T. (2007b) “The anatomy of capital and the National Democratic Revolution. “ Umrabulo, Vol. 29,  pp. 57-59.
Marwala, T. (2005a). “The national democratic revolution, technology and a developed economy. “ Umrabulo, Vol. 22, pp. 58-60.
Marwala, T. (2005b) “Mobilising the cadre to defeat the challenges of the 21st century.” Umrabulo, Vol. 23, pp. 80-82.
Marwala, T. (2005c). “Strategies and tactics for increasing economic participation.”  Umrabulo, Vol. 24, pp. 41-43.
Marwala, T. (2006). “Skills necessary for the advancement of South Africa. Umrabulo.” Vol. 26, pp. 60-61.
Onis, Z. (1991). “The Logic of the Developmental State.” Comparative Politics. Vol. 24(1), pp. 109-26.
Thompson, M. (1996). “Late industrialisers, late democratisers: developmental states in the Asia-Pacific.” Third World Quarterly. Vol. 17(4), pp. 625-647.
Woo-Cumings, M. (1999). The Developmental State. Cornell University Press.

* Professor Tshilidzi MarwalaisDean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg as well as the Deputy Chair of the ANC Zone 16

Kenneth Creamer

An opportunity to review economic policy

The ANC-led Alliance’s debates over economic policy have for many years been most interesting (and sometimes hot and divisive). In the wake of the recent, global economic recession internationally and in the post-Polokwane context domestically, a review of economic policy questions is in the air. If such a review is carried out correctly, it may be possible to secure a greater level of consensus on economic policy questions.  The purpose of this contribution is to indentify an agenda which will assist in dealing with some key macroeconomic policy questions with the aim of forging greater unity.

It is common cause in the ANC-led Alliance that much remains to be done to improve the lives of millions of ordinary South Africans, particularly through employment creation.  How the various instruments of economic policy are to be used to achieve this goal is where much of the disagreement arises.   In discussing these instruments, it is useful to work within the framework developed in the Alliance in the build up to the 2009 elections, that there will be some elements of continuity in economic policy, where policy has been successful, and some elements of change, where improvements can be made.

Developing sufficient consensus

Discussion on the key macroeconomic policy questions emerging in the current period would facilitate greater understanding in the ANC-led Alliance on such matters, particularly in the build up to the ANC’s National General Council later this year.  The purpose of such engagement should be to facilitate problem solving and consensus building. Proposed agendas for discussion on fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policy could be outlined as follows.

Fiscal policy since 1994 has been guided by the need to reprioritise state expenditure away from apartheid patterns of service delivery with the aim of achieving more equitable access to public services. This has been resourced primarily by tax revenues and to some extent by borrowing (mainly domestic borrowing).  Care has been taken to avoid falling into a debt trap, that is, to avoid a situation where an increasing proportion of tax revenues must be used to pay the interest on government debt.  Although, this has not precluded a policy, adopted by most countries during the recent recession of 2008 and 2009, that the budget deficit (borrowing) was allowed to rise in order to boost the economy in a counter-cyclical manner. On the revenue raising side, the country’s tax system has proved to be a relatively effective redistributive channel, with the introduction of progressive elements, such as, a tax on capital gains.

The current period requires that the ANC-led Alliance answer the following key questions on fiscal policy:
- how do we improve the quality of service delivery, particularly to disadvantaged communities, including outcomes in public education and public health services, could an Alliance pact be developed to mobilise Alliance structures and communities towards such an objective,
- how best do we finance substantial ongoing and future expenditure on electricity, transport, water and municipal infrastructure, to the extent that there is a gap in funding such infrastructure, how do we balance additional tax revenues, user fees, borrowings and private investment to assist in filling such funding gaps, and
- are fiscal resource allocations and tax incentives being co-ordinated sufficiently to facilitate industrial policy and economic development objectives.

Monetary policy since 2000, has followed the precedent of a number of other countries, and has been guided by the framework of targeting low to moderate inflation. Assisted by this framework, short and long-term interest rates have on average been lower since the year 2000, than in the pre-2000 period, and the average rate of economic growth has been higher since 2000.   In order to further clarify government’s mandate to the SA Reserve Bank, the Minister of Finance earlier this year sent a letter to the Reserve Bank Governor reiterating the constitutional requirement that monetary policy must be conduct in “the interest of balanced and sustainable economic growth”.  The letter states that inflation targeting should be implemented in a flexible manner.  If there are inflationary shocks outside of the SA Reserve Bank’s control (such as an oil or a food price shock) then the time frame for achieving the inflation target should be extended and interest rates should not be raised sharply with the intention of bringing inflation down immediately. Following the lessons of the so-called sub-prime crisis and the subsequent recession of 2008 and 2009, the Minister of Finance has also mandated that monetary policy find mechanisms to avoid the development of asset bubbles, which are the result of regulatory failure and which lead to destabilising asset price shocks.

It is important to recall that during the so-called Asian crisis of 1998, which affected most emerging markets, the SA Reserve Bank used high interest rates (up to 25%) to try and defend the Rand from sharp depreciation during a period of intense capital outflows.  Under the inflation targeting framework, the Rand has been allowed to float freely and this has assisted in reducing the level and the volatility of interest rates in the period since 2000.   This commitment to a free-floating exchange rate has meant that exchange rate movements have been volatile and the rand has experienced periods of relative weakness and relative strength. 

The current period of relative rand strength has resulted in cheaper imports and more expensive exports, which puts pressure on South Africa jobs and producers.  One of the key reasons for relative rand strength has been the attractiveness of South Africa as an investment destination for foreign investors, particularly in the form of short-run investments, due to the fact that there are no exchange controls on foreign investors, there have been attractive returns and there has been predictable economic management.  While these capital inflows account for Rand strength, they have also assisted in funding consumption and investment in South African above the levels that domestic income and savings would allow.

The current period requires that the ANC-led Alliance answer the following key questions on monetary and exchange rate policy:
- does the current monetary policy stance, with its recent explicit modifications, provide an appropriate framework for fostering economic growth and employment creation, or are further modifications required,
- what instruments can be developed to assist in avoiding the development of destabilising asset bubbles,
- should there be a more explicit policy of building up foreign reserves in order to attempt to prevent excessive appreciations of the Rand and how much should be budgeted to pay for the sterilisation  of such interventions to avoid the inflationary impact of building up foreign reserves in this manner, and
- how do we incentivise domestic savings, particularly for the poor, through such programmes as affordable access to banking services and  through beneficial tax treatment.

Way forward
Improved discussion and consensus in the ANC-led Alliance on macroeconomic questions would facilitate the kind of medium and long term planning that is necessary for improved economic outcomes.  Lack of cohesion on these questions serves to undermine related economic policy initiatives such as the quest for improved economic development planning, improved industrial policy and the overall planning and coordination objectives of the democratic developmental state.

While the components of the ANC-led Alliance appear to be far apart, it is contended that a detailed engagement on the current period’s key macroeconomic policy questions could assist in forging greater consensus.  Such consensus will offer more solid ground for effective service delivery, than the quicksand of disagreement and disarray.

Kenneth Creamer writes in his capacity as an ANC member and as a participant in a number of ANC Economic Transformation Committee sub-committees.    He lectures economics at WitsUniversity.

Kgolane Alfred Rudolph Phala


This year, 2010, the people of South Africa, led by the African National Congress and its Allies, will celebrate fifty-five years since that historic and heroic Congress of the People that took place in Kliptown on 25 – 26 June 1955. It was the most representative conference in the history of our country. It came about as a result of the heightened ferment of the struggle and the need to clearly articulate the type of South Africa to be established when apartheid has been defeated.

The call for a National Convention of that magnitude was initiated by the ANC Cape President, Professor Z.K. Mathews in 1953. It was a call whose time had come. It was clearly an idea whose moment had arrived.

That moment was brought by many events that laid a foundation for 1955. Those include the reorganization of the ANC with the formation of the Women’s League in 1943 and the Youth League in 1944; the adoption of the African Claims document in 1943; the end of the Second World War in 1945 in which many African young men had participated; the adoption of the United Nations Charter on Human Rights in 1945; the militant 1946 Mineworkers’ strike; the 1947 Three Doctors’ Pact between Dr. Xuma of ANC, Dr. Dadoo of the Transvaal Indian Congress and Dr. Naiker of the Natal Indian Congress, which gave rise to cooperation in struggle between the African and Indian compatriots; the ANC’s 1949 programme of action and the victory of anti-colonial struggles elsewhere in the world starting with the freedom of India in 1947.

As the Morogoro Conference explained, that “in the early fifties when the struggle for freedom was reaching new intensity, the need was seen for a clear statement of the future Sough Africa as the ANC saw it.” The Congress of the People was convened by the Congress Alliance and its delegates represented the entire people of South Africa. Therefore both the Congress of the People and the Freedom Charter are a heritage of the entire people of South Africa. It would therefore be inappropriate, illogical, ahistorical, unwise and tantamount to thiefery for a section of South Africans to try to appropriate the name of such a significant national event to themselves or to give that name to something else.



Once the ANC had decided in 1953 to hold a Congress of the People all preparations started in earnest. They decided, “to convoke a true peoples ‘parliament’ or constituent assembly; on which would embody in a singles charter the aspirations of the people for a free and democratic South Africa.” (Lerumo.89) One of the first steps was to get the Congress Alliance to agree to the holding of such a convention. The Congress Alliance led by the ANC, included, the South African Indian Congress (SAIC), the Congress of Democrats (COD) and the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO). SACPO was later renamed the South African Coloured Peoples Congress. The South African Congress of Trade Union (SACTU) also joined the Alliance on its formation in March 1955. It is this Congress Alliance that launched a massive national campaign in preparation for the Congress of the People. Amongst the first acts was the launch of the Demands of the People Campaign, to get 50 000 volunteers to collect demands from the people of South Africa.

The volunteers literally went everywhere – villages, townships, factories, camps, suburbs, campuses, compounds, hostels, etc. - to ask people for the type of South Africa they want when white-minority rule is defeated. All demands were collected and no demand was too small. Some demanded seeds, others for the location superintendent to be fired, others for the foreman not to insult them, still others demanded schools, hospitals, houses, roads, end to pass laws, bantu education, forced removals and high rents. They all demanded rights, freedom, equality, justice, peace and the vote. Every community then elected delegates to represent their locality at the congress.


In a leaflet issued by the National Action Council, they define the Congress of the People as, “a meeting of elected representatives of all races, coming together from every town and village, every farm and factory, every mine and kraal, every street and suburb, in the whole land. Here all will speak together of the things their people need to make them free. They will speak together of changes that must be made in our outlooks. They will speak together of freedom. And they will write their demands into the Freedom Charter”. The Congress of the People itself took place in an open veld in Kliptown on 25 - 26 June, 1955.

Delegates from all corners of the Country arrived in the morning of 25 June in various modes of transport. Some came by train, some on buses, some in cars, some in carts, and others even on foot. Money in pennies, shillings and pounds had been collected in busses, factories, villages, churches, meetings and trains to transport them to the congress. The air was full with freedom songs and the spirit of resistance and liberation.

Of the 2884 delegates, these were 2186 Africans, 320 Indians, 230 coloured and 112 whites. The apartheid regime was itself over-represented by the presence of 2000 – 3000 policemen at the congress! The delegates represented the length and breadth of the country and all the people of Sought Africa. It was the most representative and democratic convention in the history of South Africa. It adopted the Freedom Charter on 26 June, amid disruption by the police, using teargas and stun guns. ANC Women’s League President Idah Mtwana, then started the people’s anthem, Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika – Morena boloka sechaba sa gešu, and the congress was closed.

The Congress itself awarded that highest award of the struggle, the Isithwalandwe -  Seaparankwe Award, to Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr. Yusuf Dadoo and Bishop Trevor Huddleston. This is an award given to those who make an extraordinarily selfless, heroic and significant contribution to the struggle. It is an award coming from the period of the warrior-kings in which the feathers of a very rare bird were given to warriors who have distinguished themselves in battle.

The awarding of the Isithwalandwe-Seaparankwe at this congress was itself very significant in many ways. First, the conferring of the award on Dadoo and Huddleston was vital to the demonstration of a commitment to the building of a non-racial South Africa, to give them what is essentially an African-rooted award. Secondly, the conferring of this rooted-in-history award at a congress that adopted a Freedom Charter committed to building a new, non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous South Africa was a successful direct connection with the embryo of the freedom struggle, the wars of resistance by the warrior-kings – Makhado, Moshoeshoe, Ngunyunyane, Maleboho, Makgoba, Mzilikazi, Mokopane, Tshaka, Cetshwayo, Sekwati, Makana, Thulare, Dingane, Sekhukhune, Ndlambe, Ngqika, Mmanthatisi and Bambatha ka Zondi.

As could be clearly seen from what occurred prior to and at the Congress of the People itself, it was a very representative, significant, heroic and historic convention in the life of the people and the country of South Africa. It would therefore be unwise, myopic, insignificant and ill-conceived for some South Africans to give this name of the actual congress to something else. It would be tantamount to spiting on the graves and names of the heroes, heroines, volunteers, fieldworkers and organizers of this glorious event. South Africans must pay tribute to their trials, tribulations and contribution to the victorious democratic revolution by allowing the memory of the Congress of the People to remain a solid monument of the freedom struggle.


The Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter on 26 June 1955. The Freedom Charter has been defined in many ways, from different angles by many scholars, revolutionaries, analysts, commentators and theoreticians of all kind. Those definitions include:

The different definitions are not mutually-exclusive, they define the charter from many different but reinforcing angles. They demonstrate the strength, the validity and the significance of the content of the Freedom Charter. Just the opening preamble of the charter is telling in itself that:-

“We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the World to know:-that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white…….”

Its opening clause is even more significant and in fact prophetic, that, THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN! It goes on to articulate how that act shall be carried out. That, “every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws; The right of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex.” The right to vote, the Bill of Rights, equality of everyone, free and fair elections on common voters’ roll and gender equality are things that are almost taken for granted today, 16 years of democratic governance since 1994.

The Freedom Charter articulates eloquently and unequivocally the issue of nationalization of the mineral wealth below the soil, the land, the banks and the monopoly industry. It calls for division of the land amongst those who work it to banish land hunger and the ownership of those other critical sectors of the economy by the people as a whole. Ownership by the people as a whole is the theoretical foundation of nationalization.


The Congress of the People was a huge success, first, just by the mere fact that it was able to take place at all. Secondly, by the preparatory work which was done to get a say from the people of South Africa. Thirdly, by the mere fact that it was not just a conference organized by the ANC, but was convened by the Congress Alliance, of forces far bigger than the ANC. Fourthly, in that the demands were collated and organized into such a historic and revolutionary document as the Freedom Charter. Fifthly, in that the Freedom Charter articulated for the first time in an elaborate manner, the principle of non-racialism and the historical reality of whites belonging to South Africa. Sixthly, the struggle for freedom in South Africa now had a blue-print of a type of society being fought for, in a very clear and articulate language, adopted by all South Africans.

A leaflet by the National Action Council, responsible for convening the congress, was very prophetic and poetic about the charter. It stated, “the Freedom Charter will express all the demands of all the people for the good life that they seek for themselves and their children. The Freedom Charter will be our guide to those “signing tomorrows” when all South Africans will live and work together, without racial bitterness and fear of misery, in peace and harmony.

The Freedom Charter is therefore a revolutionary document that came before its time and articulated the most eloquent revolutionary morality. It elucidated perfectly the central objective lf the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). It defined clearly the common nation-hood of the people of South Africa, without distinction to colour, race, sex or belief. The opening statement of the people’s charter that, “SOUTH AFRICAN BELONGS TO ALL WHO LIVE IN IT…” is very fundamental. Other commentators even say that just like Bible and the Koran, the Freedom Charter is a highly spiritual document at the core of which are such fundamentals as justice, peace, liberty, brotherhood and freedom. While it came into being as a consequence of the heightened ferment of the struggle in the 1950’s, its adoption in turn propelled the struggle to new intensity.

The ANC itself adopted the Charter in 1956. The regime declared it from the word go, as High Treason. In 1956, 156 leaders of the Congress movement were arrested and charged in what came to be a Marathon Treason Trial that lasted from 1956 – 61. All the accused were acquitted of the charge of High Treason. It was also as a consequence of the Freedom Charter that some Africanist elements in the ANC left to form a PAC in 1959. They were unhappy amongst others with the words, “SOUTH AFRICA BELONGS TO ALL WHO LIVE IN IT, BLACK AND WHITE.” They argued that only Africans can call this Country their home and that white belong to Europe.

Today, as we commemorate fifty-five years of the congress of the people and the Freedom Charter, we are also celebrating sixteen years of democracy. We must take this opportunity to look back at it implementation over the years. We must also take a look at the documents that sought to elaborate the charter under new conditions. – the Constitutional guidelines for a Democratic South Africa of 1989, the Ready to Govern document of 1991, the Reconstruction and Development Programme of 1993, and the various manifestos of successive elections to date they will tell us the distance we have travelled to build a society based on the Freedom Charter.


The congress of the people was a historic and heroic convention of the people of South Africa. Its convention propelled the freedom struggle to new heights throughout the 1950’s. It intensified the era of new forms of struggle – marches, pickets, boycotts, strikes, stay-aways and demonstrations. It gave birth to mass struggle of all kinds throughout the 1950’s:-the defiance of unjust laws campaign, the anti-Bantu education resistance, massive anti-pass campaigns, a plethora of bus boycotts, women’s march to Pretoria, national anti-potato campaign, rent boycotts, defiance campaigns, student uprisings and rural revolts in Pondoland, Thembuland, Zululand, Sekhukhuneland, Zeerust and Witzieshoek.

The forces today masquerading as and calling themselves congress of the people, are nothing near the actual congress of the people. A COSATU 2009 pamphlet explains that, “the launch of the so-called congress of the people poses big challenges to workers and the National Liberation Movement. It could confuse and divide voters, cause enough damage to reduce the African National Congress majority in Parliament and some Provinces, and put the brakes on policies to create jobs, cut poverty and improve the lives of South Africans. If these “dissidents” succeeds, it would roll back the gains workers and the poor have made since 1994 and weaken the organizations that have been the shield and spear of the working class.”

You do not become big merely because you call yourself an elephant! The historic and heroic significance of the actual Congress of the People must not be reduced in anyway by anyone. It is a proud heritage of the people of South Africa, which must be preserved, commemorated and celebrated by all.


(1) The Freedom Charter as adopted at the Congress of the People on 26 June 1955.
(2) The Congress of the People as convened by the Congress Alliance and held on 25 – 26 June 1955, in Kliptown.
(3) ANC (1969) An analysis of the Freedom Charter as adopted at the Morogoro conference, 1969.
(4) COSATU (2009). “Defend our movement – Advance the gains of Polokwane!! Expose and isolate the Black DA.”  Election 2009 pamphlet.
(5) Lerumo A. (1971.) Fifty Fighting years. Inkululeko publication. P.89.
(6) ANC (1985) “Selected Writings on the Freedom Charter.” ANC: London. 1985.

Deconstructing theory of the national democratic revolution

Thando Ntlemeza


In 1652, Jan Van Riebeeck and his people arrived in South Africa. His arrival marked the beginning of colonial settlement in this country. This settlement was followed by bloody battles between white settlers and African people, who refused to allow dispossession of their land and livestock without a fight.

With the defeat of Bambata in 1906, armed resistance of the African people was finally defeated. Dutch and British descendents in 1910 entered into a governing arrangement which was premised on political oppression and social subordination and exclusion of the masses of black people, meaning that these people were viewed, regarded and treated as foreigners in the country of their birth (1).

In response to the governing arrangement that excluded the majority of South Africans, the ANC was formed, in 1912, to unite African people under the umbrella of one organization, a vehicle they would use to fight for freedom and liberation from political oppression and social subordination and exclusion to which they were subjected. While it was formed to unite and liberate African people, the ANC evolved into a mass movement fighting to liberate all South Africans from a brutal system based on racial subjugation and exclusion, a national contradiction that denied all South Africans freedom in their own country. 

National Contradiction

During the course of the struggle, the ANC continued to discuss and analyze the three inter-related antagonistic contradictions, being race, class and patriarchal relations of power and concluded that these contradictions found expression in the national oppression based on race; super-exploitation of blacks on the basis of their race and triple oppression of women based on their race, class and gender (2).

Consistent with this understanding of the national contradiction in South Africa, in 1928, at the 6th World Congress of Comintern in Moscow the South African national question was debated by the communists from all over the world. It was in this congress where a resolution was adopted to establish a “black republic” in South Africa in which all the national groups would enjoy equality (3). A resolution that was justified on grounds that “South Africa is a black country, the majority of the population is black and so is the majority of the workers and peasants…Hence the national question …lies at the foundation of [South African] revolution…” (4) 

While some want us to believe that the concept of the national question derives from the national struggles in Europe, our approach to national question should be understood within the context of the struggles of the people of Africa to restore African nationality, which had been divided and balkanized by colonialism and apartheid. Meaning that, our struggle to resolve the primary contradictions created by the system of colonialism and apartheid should be located within these broader struggles.

Without down-playing sharpness of national contradictions in other parts of the country, let me reflect on some of the dynamics of the national question in the Western Cape. Like Africans, coloureds were oppressed, subordinated and excluded. While Africans were subjected to the most intense racial oppression in this country, coloured communities also suffered varying forms of national humiliation, discrimination and oppression under colonialism and apartheid (5). Africans have been at the forefront of the struggle for freedom and liberation, but coloured people also played an important part in stimulating and intensifying the struggle (6).

Whereas coloureds and Africans live together peacefully and in harmony in certain areas, some continue to entrench perceptions and suspicions among coloureds and Africans. “Instead of encouraging, and building on the peaceful co-existence of coloured and African communities, certain elements continue to sow old seeds of fear, panic and racism in our communities. This tactic cannot be dissociated from the "swartgevaar" perpetrated by right-wing conservatives, found in the [Democratic Alliance], whose political survival is contingent upon lies and deception” (7).

Racist ideology continues to entrench perceptions,which are intended to influence thinking and behavior of the unsuspecting people. Because of these perceptions, some people even fail to recognize that their socio-economic position in society dictates that they should engage in the struggle to liberate themselves from false ideology of racial superiority and inferiority, which makes certain races and ethnic groups in this province and beyond to continue seeing themselves as more superior than others, while some regard themselves as inferior. Given this objective reality, how did we decide to deal with the national question?

Revolution or Reform?

While all those democratic forces that were fighting for change wanted change, the issue of form and content of that change remained central in the debates for years. However, the matter was settled when it was realized that the contradictions in the colonial and apartheid society were of such a nature that they could not be resolved through mere reform. Instead, these contradictions could only be resolved through a revolution as the whole system had to be destroyed.

In essence, the revolution means a total overhaul of the system of colonialism and apartheid and replacing it with a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic system based on the will of the people. Meaning that life of the new system would depend on its success or failure to eliminate the contradictions created by system of colonialism and apartheid. But, can fundamental transformation of society be pursued to completion without the process of transformation being reformist? Be that as it may, what is the content of the revolution pursued by the ANC?

Content of our revolution

We know as a matter of fact that the National Democratic Revolution derives content from the pyramid of oppression which characterized the system of colonialism and apartheid. This revolution purports to liberate black people in general and Africans in particular from subordination, national oppression and super-exploitation to which they have been exposed since the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck.

National Democratic Revolution – as we understand it - “does not eradicate capitalist relations of production in general”, [but] “seeks to eradicate the specific relations of production that underpinned the national and gender oppression and super-exploitation of the majority of South Africans” (8). Something which tells us that class contradictions between the working class and the bourgeoisie will play themselves out in the national democratic society we envisage and the ANC will be required to regulate the political, social and economic environment in which these contradictions manifest themselves, in the interest of socio-economic development.

While our revolution purports to liberate Africans in particular and blacks in general from political and socio-economic bondages, which means “uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and women, “it also has an effect of liberating the white community from the false ideology of racial superiority and insecurity attached to oppressing others.” Central in our revolution is the creation of the material and cultural conditions, which will allow the abilities of the blacks, especially Africans and women, to flourish and enrich the political, social and economic life of South Africa.          

State and revolution

Because the apartheid state was illegitimate, our revolution creates and builds a legitimate state, which derives authority from the will of the people, something which we derive from the Freedom Charter which tells us that people shall govern. This means that we have a responsibility to ensure that institutions of the state are developed to become organs of people’s power, which we must do because the ANC is a people’s movement that was formed to prosecute people’s struggles.

The state is an instrument that should be used to address the political and socio-economic challenges facing our people, especially the historically oppressed. We adopt an instrumentalist view of the state because we believe that the democratic state should be used to advance, consolidate and deepen the National Democratic Revolution in the interest of all the people, especially the historically disadvantaged – being black people the majority of whom are African and female.

Critically important is to ensure that the democratic state has the necessary organizational and technical capacity to realize the objective of our revolution, being to create and build a non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous society in which all the people of South Africa, black and white, especially the historically disadvantaged, will develop politically, socially and economically.    

Economy and revolution

It is common knowledge that black majority has been at the bottom of the ladder of racialised apartheid economy, with this majority being denied access to ownership and control of the means of production, something which meant that de-racialising society would also include deracialisation of the economy with a view to ensuring that historically disadvantaged have access to ownership and control of the means of production, especially the strategic centres of the economy.

Writing about Freedom Charter and the theory of National Democratic Revolution, Peter Hudson states that “the Freedom Charter invokes neither the socialization of the means of production nor the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat in South Africa.” (9) Despite this, some of revolutionary writers and commentators continued to construe the Freedom Charter as ‘socialist’ or ‘anti capitalist’.

We would remember that at the annual congress of the ANC in Bloemfontein in December 1955, ‘Africanists’ opposed the endorsement of the Freedom Charter on grounds that it was a socialist document and thus foreign to African nationalism. In response, Nelson Mandela denied cogently that the Freedom Charter constitutes a blue-print for a socialist state. Instead, Nelson Mandela vehemently argued that nationalization of mines and other strategic centres of the economy talked about in the Charter would not result in socialism, but that it would “open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous non-European bourgeois class”.

Later, Mandela stated that “…for the first time in the history of this country the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories, and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before.” Which means that the society which was envisaged would have to open up opportunities for the historically disadvantaged to own means of production. This remains the situation as the Strategy and Tactics adopted in Polokwane states that the national democratic society “requires de-racialisation of ownership and control of wealth, management and the professions.” 

This is the context within which we have to understand and approach the call made by the ANCYL for nationalization of the mines as well as for participation and involvement in business of young people of South Africa, who have been denied access to ownership and control of the means of production. When cadres cease opportunities created by the National Democratic Revolution in the economic sector, they should not be viewed as un-revolutionary or counter revolutionary. 

Who leads the National Democratic Revolution?

Some have expressed reservations about ANC’s leadership of the National Democratic Revolution. I think these reservations should be viewed within the context of a view which says that the ANC should have never - in the first place - been allowed to lead the alliance (10) because having the ANC a leader of the alliance is premised on a mistaken assumption that a nationalist organization is able to lead the struggles of the working class, if at all, beyond the national struggle.

Let me - first and foremost - dismiss the suggestion that ours is a struggle of the working class. As I have stated, ours is not a struggle to resolve contradiction between working class and bourgeoisie, but a struggle against national oppression based on race; super-exploitation directed against black people on the basis of their race and triple oppression of women based on their race, class and gender.

We are supposed to know by now that it is the dominant societal contradiction, which must dictate as to who leads the movement, the alliance or revolution for that matter.

The ANC’s leadership of the alliance and the National Democratic Revolution derives from an acceptance that the dominant contradiction in the current phase of the revolution is the national question (11). While class is a fundamental contradiction in South Africa, general consensus is that the national contradiction remains a contradiction, which dominates virtually all facets of South African society (12).

Given this objective reality in South Africa, we cannot agree that ANC’s leadership of the revolution in the current phase is premised on any mistake, whether material or otherwise. It is the centrality of the national question in the South African revolution which caused the ANC to assume the task of leading the alliance and all other democratic forces which are committed to the victory of the National Democratic Revolution. However, this leadership role places on the ANC a primary responsibility to unite our strategic alliance and other democratic forces. 


In conclusion, let me re-emphasize that the National Democratic Revolution purports to overhaul brutal system of colonialism and apartheid that was undemocratic and which entrenched racial and gender discrimination and divisions, and to replace it with a non-racial, non-sexist, united and democratic system, which is based on and informed by desires and aspirations of the people, especially the historically oppressed the majority of whom are Africans and women who were oppressed on the basis of their race and patriarchal relations. 

While class remains a fundamental contradiction in South Africa, the National Democratic Revolution does not seek to resolve class contradictions, which are manifest in our society. For this reason, these contradictions are expected to express themselves in the national democratic society, and the ANC will be required to regulate the political, social and economic environment in which these contradictions manifest themselves - in the interest of development of all the people, especially the historically oppressed, the majority of whom are Africans and women, something that must be done to eradicate legacy of colonialism and apartheid.


  1. Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, 2007 at para 14 - 15
  2. Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, 2007 at para 33
  3. Peter Mackintosh “Is the Communist Party Programme still valid?” African Communist, No. 109, Second Quarter, p. 41
  4. This resolution was adopted by the Executive Committee of the Communist International subsequent to 6th Comintern congress.
  5. Thando Ntlemeza “It is imperative that we in the Western Cape build on fruits of our diversity” CapeTimes, Friday 2, 2005.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Strategy and Tactics of the ANC, 2007 at par. 58
  9. Hudson, Peter. (1986). “The Freedom Charter and the Theory of the National Democratic Revolution” in Transformation 1 (1986)
  10. This view is advocated by some comrades within the Young Communist League and SACP, who argue that those who were in the leadership of the Party at the time made a fundamental mistake by letting ANC to lead the struggles of the working class.
  11. Thando Ntlemeza. (1998). “Towards the Second Decade of Freedom: Analysing the State and dynamics of Class Struggles in South Africa” (Unpublished paper); also see “Unity in Action: A discussion document on the Programme and Organisational Challenges facing the tripartite Alliance” (October 1998), Umrabulo No.6 at 4 where it is stated that the leading role of the ANC derives from common acceptance that the central objective of the National Democratic Revolution is the emancipation of the African majority and black people in general.
  12. Bua Komanisi, Vol. 5, Issue No 1 May 2006, p.3


By Michael Sachs

South Africans won their freedom at the high tide of neo-liberal ideology in the mid 1990s. The orthodoxy of the times  - built on the collapse of soviet-socialism and the crisis of state-led development in Africa and Latin America - told us that if sufficient economic growth could be generated, poverty reduction and social progress would be the natural result. The “Washington Consensus” believed that the policies required for fast growth were well known and universally applicable: governments need only get prices right by unleashing the latent power of markets, and the rest would follow.

As progressive politics sought to rejuvenate itself, Amartya Sen proposed a different paradigm of development. In his 1999 book “Development as Freedom” he insisted that people, not markets, should be at the centre of development. The ultimate goal is not economic growth itself but the realisation of human potential that growth could enable. People are not merely an input to the production process; they are “agents of change” that act upon and realise development and progress.

Sen sought a third way between the dichotomies that had defined the cold war era: state versus market, individual freedom versus collective responsibility, and development versus democracy. By placing people at the centre, he hoped to turn these supposed contradictions into complements. In a nutshell, his book suggested that:

  1. Individual freedoms exist only insofar as individuals have the capability to realise these freedoms. The latent potential that markets or democratic institutions offer can be made real only in the presence of strong and effective social institutions. Thus individual freedoms are important, but inseparable from collective responsibilities.
  2. Democratic freedoms and social progress should not be judged solely by whether they help or hinder economic growth. Rather, freedom and justice are themselves an intrinsic aim of development. Just as social progress that hinders economic growth may need correction, economic growth on the basis of retarded social progress does not constitute successful development.
  3. Therefore, our evaluation of development should include analysis of economic quantities, but extend to embrace social and human aspects such as education, equality, health care and democratic freedoms. On this score, Sen’s pioneering ideas helped underpin the measurement of Human Development Indicators (HDIs)

As the century turned and the ANC consolidated our democratic gains, Sen’s approach was highly influential. Traces of his thought are apparent in a number of South African policy frameworks. The RDP made a direct link between social and economic development, while the Constitution makes gives legal effect to “substantive freedoms” in the form of socio-economic rights. The ANC’s policy resolutions and election manifestos, dating especially from the time of the 2000 National General Council, highlight Sen’s concern with seeing people as ‘agents of change’. Indeed, it is difficult to think of another country where the idea of ‘development as freedom’ has had such direct influence on the formal policy positions of both government and the ruling party.

And these commitments were not just on paper. South Africa witnessed a profound and deep extension of democratic rights, the removal of myriad unfreedoms, a dedicated focus on the social and political rights of women, the creation of the largest welfare system in the developing world and the progressive extension of social services and infrastructure over a sustained and lengthy period. And all of this even whilst maintaining a realistic and sustainable macro-economic framework that sheltered the country from crisis or collapse in the face of two world-wide crises (i.e. 1998 and 2008)

But the results have been disappointing. After more than a decade and a half of freedom, South Africa’s human development index has declined. It is true that much of this decline has been due to the impact of HIV/AIDS on life expectancy. But mass unemployment and poverty, urban dysfunction, crime and violence continue to pock mark the face of progress. Less democratic societies without our commitment to social and political freedom (for instance the Arab states) have overtaken us in terms of measured HDI.  Could South Africa not have expected more from its determination to embed the links between development and freedom at the heart of its national effort?

Perhaps the answer lies in the weaknesses of Sen’s approach. In particular, the concept of “development as freedom” neglects the contradictions that are inherent development. In emphasising the complementary nature of economic growth, social progress and political freedom, Sen overlooks the conflicts that frequently arise between these categories in the real world. For instance, he argues:

“… we generally have excellent reasons for wanting more income or wealth. This is not because income and wealth are desirable for their own sake, but because, typically they are admirable general-purpose means for having more freedom to lead the kind of lives we have reason to value” (1).

It is however an unfortunate reality that the freedom that comes with income and wealth often includes the ability to deny others freedom. Wealth is accumulated not only as a means to attain freedom, but also as an instrument of power over others. Indeed, it may be that the power to deny freedom to others is a necessary condition for the sustained accumulation of wealth.

It is also possible that social institutions can foster a culture in which Sen’s chain of logic is reversed. Instead of wealth and income being perceived as a means to attain freedom, freedom may be seen as a means to attain wealth and income. Where personal wealth is the over-riding objective, and social freedom is merely a means to this end, the expansion of freedom will not necessarily result in development.

Where does this leave South Africa and its quest for social and economic emancipation? In the absence of sustained and visible progress, could South Africans increasingly feel that some freedoms – for instance those belonging to women, immigrants or the owners of property – will need to be undermined, at least in the short run, in order to attain the long term objective of development. Could South Africans begin to regard such freedoms as an obstacle – rather than complement – to development?  

In my view, one of the factors that will decide the answer to these questions is the capacity and commitment of the state to lead broad-based development. A government that is able to act in a coherent manner - as a catalyst for development and change within a constellation of effective and democratic institutions - is a necessary condition for realising Sen’s vision. In South Africa the absence of this kind of dynamic and effective state is at the core of the unfulfilled promise of freedom. 

If we are unable to address this weakness then our collective commitment to ‘development as freedom’ will be eroded. And if our collective commitment erodes then freedom’s promise of “a better life for all” will become a slogan of the past rather than a programme for the future.

1.  Sen, Armatya, Development as Freedom, 1999, Chapter 1, p14

A Fallacious description: “The ANC is a multi-class organisation”
 Zwelinzima Sizani


Nothing is further from the truth than the fact that sometimes a non-fact can be repeated as often as possible, and it may end up being consumed as absolute truth.

I earlier started reading, whenever I came across them, documents and publications of the ANC, even the occasional times when Radio Freedom was clear enough to listen to propaganda from the Movement during the early 1970s, but, I have never came across the most recent and fashionable statement that even emanates from official corridors of our movement: The ANC is a multi-class organisation.

What fallacy!

Was Friedrich Engels a representative of the bourgeois class within the 1st International? Or, a dedicated member of that august working class organisation, steeped in the development of its theoretical framework and clarity of thought? For most of us who know, Friedrich Engels was a comrade in arms of Karl Marx; without doubt, one of the best in simplifying philosophy, such that it is readable to most of us, ordinary working citizens of countries.

Which then brings us to the noble deduction that, your class background, even if you are continuing in the business of the class that you were in, either before or after joining a revolutionary organisation, remains a personal matter to you, and only you, not the revolutionary organisation you decided to join. For, you are expected to subsume yourself in all that the organisation you are dedicating your life to, stands for.

If you are a member of the working class and you decide to do the unfathomable, join the Rand Club in Johannesburg, no matter your previous ideological platforms you are expected to sing, even in your sleep, lullaby’s to the perpetuation of the rule of the capitalist class. That is seen as being in order!

Whither then revolutionary organisations, like ours, the ANC?

What is an Organisation?

In socio-classical terms, an organisation is a body composed of members who subscribe to the same strategic objectives, guided by one theoretical and class based ideological framework.

Thus a working class organisation would do its best to mobilise society as a whole, especially the proletariat, in order to struggle against an alienating and discriminatory socio-economic system, to usher in a more equitable one, transient to one where ‘from each according to his/her needs, to each according to his/her ability’.

For the owning class, the perpetuation of millennia of a system that always stands to benefit a few and the continuation of that discriminatory, exploitative and oppressive one is a be-all and end-all of organisations that are for the vain interests of that class.

To come back to structural form of an organisation; any organisation has to have the following:

A Corporate Organisation

With a corporate organisation, all the above are found, and they conform to the aims and objectives of business; the generation of profit to maximise accumulation of wealth, regardless of the cost to human beings and nature itself.

Everything that ensues in a corporate entity is done with that sole objective!

The issue of “social responsibility” is nothing else but a callous practice (having ripped the majority of society of the wealth that they have created) undertaken, firstly, to get tax rebates and, secondly, to comply with so-called people-sensitive governments’ imperatives to make business to appear to be taking care of communities that it is based in.

You cannot be expected to be an employee of a business entity, with a sole mandate of growing profits for that organisation, and, you, as an employee, would want to go about struggling to end the ownership of the owners of that entity, and equitably transferring all the shares to workers in that entity, or better still, the populace as a whole – to do that, you would have be outside of that corporate entity.

Such action or behaviour can immediately be deemed as insane and unlawful, thus rendering the employee to be liable to immediate expulsion on the basis of bourgeois culture and morality.  Of course bourgeois law will come down hard on such action!

In as much as, in a private entity, the owner/s’ employ workers whom they grossly exploit for them to garner the maximum of profits; those employees come into that organisation’s contract with the sole purpose of selling their labour and getting a ‘portion’ of beneficiation for the work that they have put in, thus the struggle for the payment of what is due to the employees since it is their labour that ends up producing surplus value. It then becomes a dishonourable duty of a class-divided state to then keep in check these antagonistic contradictions between employer and employee, worker and capitalist.

The ANC as an Organisation

The ANC is an organisation that has its own constitution, character and culture. Upon joining the ANC, an individual is doing so out of her/his own volition and binding oneself to abide by what the ANC stands for, which is:

Over and above these key elements that constitute what the ANC stands for, we cannot be expected, as an organisation, to be ceased with the class background or current economic standing of individuals.

In our discourse as the ANC, anything outside the bounds of the character of the ANC should not, does not belong to this people’s movement of Langalibalele, Sol Plaatjie and Oliver Reginald Tambo. As an ANC member, at whatever level, when discharging your duties, you are expected to look at the broader spectrum of society and the different classes that constitute it, antagonisms where they exist, and navigate the socio-economic minefield within the possibilities, if the objective situation permits, vis a vis your overall subjective strength, to do so within the ambit of a balanced (as to broader society) approach that takes into cognisance the bias to the working class and the poor as promulgated in the 1969 Morogoro and the 1985 Kabwe Conferences (as starters).

Thus for all intents and purpose, the ANC is a unitary organisation that has all the elements that constitutes an organisation, and any person joining it, regardless of class origin and standing, should do so with eyes as wide open as knowing that there is no proxy voice for the Ackermans and Oppenheimers of South Africa, except those who are ready to serve the people with a bias to the working class and the poor.

Imagine if Friedrich Engels (son of a bourgeois), in his works with Karl Marx was also seized with representing the then owners of capital!


Unity of the African people. Unity of the continent
Closing remarks of President Jacob Zuma at the 13th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly Heads of State and Government, 3 July 2009, Sirte, Libya
It is with great pleasure and honour that I accept the invitation to make the closing remarks before this Assembly. I`m quite certain that I speak on your behalf in expressing our thanks and appreciation to H.E Brother Leader, Moummar Gaddaffi, for the hospitality and generosity extended to our respective delegations.
We are gathered here because we believe in the fundamental principle on which the Organisation of African Unity and later the African Union were founded - the unity of the African peoples, the unity of the continent.
This is a fundamental principle which binds us all. Even on those issues on which we fundamentally disagree, we should be guided by the principle of unity, and remain true to the founding principles of the OAU and the AU.
A long and proud tradition of working for African unity
As the South African government, we remain steadfast in our commitment to African unity and advancement, guided by the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the African National Congress. We have a long and proud tradition in this regard.
Many of you will remember and will have met the former President of the ANC, His Excellency Oliver Tambo, who always reminded his cadres that the strength of the ANC came from the support it received from the African peoples throughout the continent.  He knew that our freedom would be attained because of such solidarity.  The ANC was granted observer status in the OAU and we were proud to be afforded such status when we were not in government.
Our icon and former President, His Excellency Nelson Mandela, also reminded us of the pivotal role of the African continent in our struggle for freedom.  He opened the way for the ANC in many countries in the continent during the struggle for liberation, and continued in this direction as President of the Republic. You will all recall his sterling role as the mediator in the Burundi peace process.
Both Madiba and President Tambo were part of the processes of the establishment of the OAU, and participated in PAFMECSA which preceded the OAU. President Tambo attended the launch of the OAU, which created an everlasting association.
Former President Thabo Mbeki made the African Renaissance the backbone of his foreign policy, and worked tirelessly to push the African agenda on the world stage.  Working with his colleagues they gave the continent instruments such as the New Partnership for Africa`s Development, the African Peer Review Mechanism and others. These remain key vehicles for African development and progress.
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe, now Deputy President of the Republic, made a notable contribution in conflict resolution, one of the areas we want to continue to invest in, for the sake of future generations.
We see our role as building on the legacy of these leaders, guided as they were by the principles of the ANC, which inform government policy.
Internationalism – a feature of the ANC character
Internationalism is a crucial feature in the unique character of the ANC, inspired by the spirit and ideals of human solidarity. Our policy is informed by a number of factors.
Firstly, the ANC correctly became part of the progressive forces that fought against colonialism, racism, poverty, patriarchy and other social ills.  Secondly, the founders of the ANC defined the organization as a unifier and as a premier representative of the African people within and beyond the borders of South Africa. In addition, the international front was one of the key pillars of the struggle that led to the defeat of the apartheid regime in 1994.
We will therefore continue to be very active on the international front, in pursuit of the goal of achieving a just world and a better Africa. I pledge on behalf of the Government of South Africa and the ANC that we will never betray the cause of African advancement and African unity, and that we will never be found wanting in executing these responsibilities.
Working for a better Africa – current challenges
Our meeting in Libya under the theme "Investing in Agriculture for Economic growth and sustainable development", takes us a step further in working towards a better Africa.  It has provided us with the opportunity to have a clearer and deeper understanding of the importance of this sector in our quest to find collective and sustainable solutions to poverty in the continent.  Our deliberations have clearly underlined that investing in the agricultural sector is one of the critical and viable options for stimulating our economies and kick starting development. The African peoples expect us to move with speed in the implementation of the outcomes of this august Assembly. The people are expecting us to take them along the path towards the attainment of a better life for all.
We also discussed climate change in this Assembly, a matter that is closely related to the current theme of the Summit. We support that Africa speaks with one voice, particularly on the twin issues of adaptation and mitigation.  In this regard, we call upon our Ministers of Environment to ensure that they remain focused and bold in the negotiations leading to the Summit in Copenhagen.
We also had an opportunity to reflect on the pockets of conflicts in our continent. All of us know that there can be no development without peace. I must hasten to add that we have every reason to be proud of the enormous gains we have made in the past few years. We also take pride in the fact that increasingly, more countries in our continent continue to choose the path of facilitating contestation of the political space peacefully through democratic elections. The challenge of the day is for all of us to commit to stay the course so that our mother continent can earn its place in the sun. However, it should be emphasized that there should be no complacency. Many challenges still remain, especially in Darfur, the Sudan, Madagascar, Guinea and Somalia. We all need to redouble our efforts. Somalia in particular, stands as a painful reminder of what happens when there is no peace. I wish to salute the courage, loyalty to duty and readiness to sacrifice displayed by the leadership of the Transitional Federal Government. To you my brother, Sheik Sheriff Ahmed, you have heard our expressions of commitment to be on your side.
Nelson Mandela Day campaign
Our country will celebrate President Mandela`s 91st birthday on the 18th of July through an international Nelson Mandela Day campaign.
Madiba dedicated 67 years of his life to the service of humanity. People throughout the world are therefore requested to spend 67 minutes of their time doing something useful for humanity. This is in recognition of the fact that Madiba worked to promote human rights, freedom, peace, reconciliation and development. We humbly urge sister countries in the continent to work with us to promote his legacy through participating in the campaign.
I leave my very first meeting of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union with very warm feelings due to the wonderful reception by all my colleagues. Working together we must continue to strive for unity and progress, and avoid any moves that will lead to the polarization of our continent. Our people expect that of us.
Let me conclude by committing South Africa to do Africa proud when we host the 2010 FIFA World Cup next year!

I thank you all and wish you well.


Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

The centrality of our international policy derives its existence from the ANC policy conference and the Polokwane elective conference. We have adopted the ANC manifesto document and the Freedom Charter as a guiding principle in implementation of our foreign policy.

We have fully aligned our work to key domestic priorities that are interwoven into our strategic focus based on the primacy of the African continent, the centrality of SADC, commitment to South- South Cooperation, North-South dialogue, centrality of multilateralism and strengthening of the economic, social and political relations.

Building on the foundations of our foreign policy and our constitutional values, we must pursue more strongly the dynamic linkage between what we do abroad and what we want to achieve I n our country. We should continue to bring into full view our national interest in the context of our Pan African commitments and our role and obligations in the globe.

The AU in its 14th Session has taken a decision to integrate NEPAD into its structures by establishing NEPAD Panning and Coordinating Agency as a technical body of the AU as an important step towards acceleration of implementation of the Nepad program.

Our determination to focus on NEPAD, the APRM, SADC and PAP is our long standing commitment to do whatever we can to strengthen and consolidate the African agenda. 

Our South- South relations are enhanced by the ascendency of some of the countries in the South with indications that they will be more a formidable force in future. Some countries and forums such as BRIC and IBSA have rapidly increased their weight in the global economy and transforming the balance of forces internationally in favour of the South.

We have intensified our engagement with India, Brazil and China through our Bi-lateral relations and elevation of our relationship with China to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership level.

We also value our relations with the countries of the North as these relations are indispensable to our course in movement forward to international relations and co-operations.

We have taken advantage of the existing conducive environment created by the advent of the Obama administration in the United States. This has culminated in the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding to anchor Strategic Partnership with the United States and South Africa.

The European Union as a block remains a strategic partner especially in the areas of development, trade and cooperation. We are partners with the EU in tackling some of the pressing issues in the continent like institutional state building in DRC and post conflict and reconstruction in Burundi and Sudan. Our relationship with the North is not limited to EU and US but include Russia and Japan.

The reform of the United Nations as a universal voice of humanity is still pivotal in global politics especially for maintenance of world peace. We will continue to propagate for transformation of the Bretton Woods Institutions as we believe that they must remain relevant, transparent and representative.

We hope to return to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member at the elections that will take place in October this year. 

One challenge facing us in the domain of international relations is coordination among the different spheres of government and among government departments.

We are cognizant of the fact that we can do our work in international affairs better and more effectively when all the international engagements of our Government Departments, our Provinces and Municipalities, are well coordinated to avoid duplication, working at cross-purpose, or functioning in a manner that could suggest to our partners abroad that we are not a well organized government and country.

ANC structures – from branch, region, and province – have to be actively engaged in international relations.  The International Relations Sub-Committee of the NEC has tried over the years to involve all ANC structures as well as Alliance partners.  This is something that we have to build on to ensure that international relations is not seen by our own people and ANC structures as a preoccupation of the few.

International relations do affect us.  Examples include the economic crisis that has impacted the livelihood of all of us; trade negotiations that determine where and how our export goods are traded globally to create jobs and prosperity here at home; and we have and continue to send our soldiers as part of peace keeping operations to different parts of the world, especially in Africa.  We do so because we are convinced that peace and development go hand in hand.

Government, through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, is currently engaged in a programme of public diplomacy involving, among others,  imbizos and meeting with different stakeholders.

The Department is also developing a White Paper that will serve as a guide in the conduct of our foreign policy.  A Bill for the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency is being finalised which will give legal framework to the execution of our foreign policy and facilitate more effective cooperation.

The DIRCO is also currently in the process of consulting stakeholders on the need for the establishment of a Foreign Policy Council which will serve as an avenue for our non-state actors to interface with DIRCO on our foreign policy development and implementation.

These are positive developments aimed at putting our national interests at the centre of our foreign policy work, but also ensure that our people are actively, and constantly, engaged in our foreign policy.   Our national interest – that is: our values and what we want to achieve in our country – inform our approach to global affairs.  Hence our struggle for a better life here at home finds expression in our efforts globally for a better Africa and the world.

South Africa’s national interests must be about what will benefit our people and country; and what will advance our domestic agenda in line with the goals we have set for ourselves.  They must be about the values we cherish – non-racialism and non-sexism; the supremacy of our Constitution; and the value we attach to human dignity and the respect for human rights.  They must be about our country’s role and responsibilities in our region, the rest of Africa, and the world.  They must be about a better life for all in our country, Africa, and the world.

Our engagements globally – with countries at the bilateral level and in multilateral organisations like the United Nations – have to help us achieve a better life in our country and achieve a nation united in its diversity.  In this regard, our foreign policy has to help our country achieve the priorities identified in our election manifesto.

Collins Chabane

In 2005, the violent conflict that devasted the Sudan for over two decades showed signs of abating, as the international community rallied for peace, bringing together the warring parties in Naivasha, Kenya to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This marked the end of the devastating civil war and outlined a plan that would transform the Sudan from a war-ravaged country to a place that harboured hope for peace. The CPA provided a time frame within which the north and the south could work through the conflicting issues and constructively set out a political resolution that would reshape the country. Beginning with laying down arms, it introducd a platform for discussion and dialogue that would pave the way for transformation. The CPA provides for a power-sharing deal between the National Congress Party (NCP), with a stronghold in the North; and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who hold majority support in the South.

The recent elections in the Sudan marked a critical stage of the implementation of the peace deal between the NCP and the SPLM. The elections resulted in President Omar Al Bashir retaining his position as President of the Sudan, while Salva Kirr won the Presidential seat in the autonomous Southern Sudan.

The elections have been widely criticised for not having met international standards, but there is little contention that these were a milestone in Sudan’s history. For the most part, the process was transparent, however, though administered in an orderly and peaceful manner, the calls for postponement of the elections, and the sudden withdrawal of several independent candidates and political parties shortly before the Sudanese went to the polls, caused ructions in the international community, with many concerns that the democratic process would disintegrate into violent chaos, amid reports of intimidation. Fortunately, the Sudanese displayed their political maturity by conducting the process in an orderly and relatively peaceful manner. The relative calm over the election days did not shroud the political wranglings that played out. Rumours were rife of deals that were struck behind the scenes to ensure particular outcomes that would maintain the balance of power until the crucial referendum on secession of the South, to be held in January 2011. This was also seen as a means to secure the presidential seat for Omar Al Bashir, thereby ensuring his political legitimacy.

Interestingly, the Government of the Sudan, just a couple of weeks before the elections, managed to clinch a deal with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Darfur, followed shortly by an agreement with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). Again, this was a strategic move on the part of the government, as it sought to pacify the JEM and ensure their acceptance of the election process, while using the positive results of the Darfur talks as leverage in their political campaign. The Darfur rebel movements were assured that they would be included in the post-election government. The Darfuris, however were not so easily swayed and argued that their people were marginalised and prevented from exercising their democratic right, suggesting the postponement of the elections to allow for their people to participate. Later, after closed-door discussions, JEM relinquished its calls for postponement of the elections.

The fragility of the political situation in the Sudan was apparent when days before the elections, seventeen political parties within the Juba Alliance called for the postponement of the elections, citing the inaccuracy of the census; the inadequacy of the national security law, the intelligence law, criminal laws and trade laws that they claimed restricted democratic transformation; and then calling for a broad national government that would be responsible for preparing for the democratic elections. These claims and calls for postponement were vehemently rejected by President Al Bashir. It was not until the withdrawal of the SPLM candidate from the Presidential elections that the deep fissures in the politcal landscape of the Sudan were made apparent. A domino effect led to subsequent withdrawals of other candidates including, Mr Al Sadiq Al Mahdi (UMMA Mainstream), Mr Mubarak Al Fadel Al Mahdi (UMMA Reform and Renewal), Mr Hatem Al Sir (Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)) and Mr Mohammed Ebrahim Nugud, (Communist Party). This didn’t however dissuade the government of the Sudan from pressing on with the planned elections.  The conspicuous absence of the SPLM in the north combined with the continuation of intact elections in Southern Sudan appeared to be an ingenious plan that once again illustrated that the January 2011 Referendum date is sacrosanct to the SPLM and that they would do anything to safeguard it.

The election results seem not to have drastically shifted the power-sharing agreement between the north and the south. Understandably, there are some parties and individuals unhappy with the outcome of the elections, who continue to express their concerns regarding the legitimacy thereof but as the CPA enters a crucial stage of implementation, ideological differences will have to be set aside and disgruntled groups’ fears will have to be allayed in order for the country to maintain stability. The manner in which this transitional phase before the referendum is managed will have significant implications for the people of the Sudan, for the region and the continent. These elections impact on how the referendum will be executed but more importantly, the political will to see through the final stages of the reconciliation process is imperative. There are encouraging indications that President Al Bashir will extend an invitation to the opposition parties to join in the administration of his government. This outreach to his rivals to form a unity government would be of particular importance if he seeks to lead his country from a culture of violence to a culture of peace and development.

There are still a range of contentious issues that will have to be discussed prior to and after the referendum in January 2011, regardless of whether or not the South opts for secession.  The economic disparities between the north and the south are garish. The south is in desperate need of investment aimed at infrastructural development and support to uplift its administrative capacities. South Africa, amongst other countries is working closely with the Government of the Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan to address some of the shortcomings. It is the South African government’s view that if unity is the choice of the Southern Sudanese in the referendum, the autonomous region will still need to be developed; and if the Southern Sudanese choose secessation, then such investment will capacitate the Government of South Sudan so that the transition to independence will be less excruciating.

Much like our own transition from Apartheid to democracy, Sudan still has a long road ahead and the pre-referendum and post-refendum issues will have to be addressed to maintain and ensure peace. These include demarcation of the borders, distribution of revenues, sharing of resources (including oil and water), debt responsibility, and even infrastructural development. If the South chooses to remain united, it will not mean that these issues become obsolete; instead, they would be fundamental to maintaining peace in a united Sudan. Should the South opt for independence, however, it will present the Sudan, the region and the world with the challenge of having to deal with a new entity, which will no doubt impact on the dynamics of the continent. This phase will determine how a new country relates to its neighbours and how well it would be received in the international community.

The Sudanese on either side of the border will always share a common history, if not a common future. It is from our own experiences that we know that there are no hurdles that are insurmountable and we will work with the Sudan to support the full implementation of the CPA.


By Duma Nokwe

First published in Liberation, Number 19, June 1956
One of the criticisms frequently leveled against the Youth Movements of the Congresses is that they have failed to make any impact upon, and to organise the masses of working, peasant and intellectual youth.

In fact, the very – existence of these youth movements, the ANCYL, SAIYC - is known only to a small percentage of youth. In the case of the ANCYL, its failure to win the confidence of the masses of African youth can only be clearly understood, against the background of its historical development, its tasks and functions as determined by its foundation members and its relationship with the

Youth League is formed

As a result of the growing militancy of the students which was demonstrated by student strikes at Fort Hare and Lovedale, the ANC resolved at its Annual Conference in 1943 to establish a Congress Youth League, whose tasks would be to organise the youth and prepare them for Congress membership. Thus in 1944 the ANCYL was formed.

From its inception, however, the members of the Youth League focused their attention upon the weaknesses of the A.N.C, particularly its lack of a militant political theory and programme of action based on actions by the people. Thus

"From the outset the ANCYL set itself the task amongst others ofimparting a dynamic substance and matter to the organisational form of the A.N.C. This took the form of a forthright exposition of the National Liberatory outlook-African Nationalism which the ANCYL seeks to impose on the mother body." (Basic Policy of ANCYL, 1944)

From 1944 to 1949, the Youth League concentrated on working out African Nationalism, criticising the old methods of struggle of deputations and resolutions to the Government, and tried to impose a militant outlook. This culminated in the adoption of the Programme of Action at the Annual Conference of the A.N.C. in 1949. For the first time in the history of the ANC the National Executive was electedwhich pledged itself to implement a specific programme of action. TheANCYL played an important part in the adoption of that programmeof action. The salient features of the programme were mass politicalactions, in the form of boycott, national days of protest, and civildisobedience.

During this period (1944 to 1949) the ANCYL had the following features:

  1. It was a small organisation, with very few organised branches, whose members were predominantly intellectual youth, almost all who were above 25 years of age.
  2. Its main activities were small meetings in which discussion centred around the Philosophy of African Nationalism and the defects in A.N.C. policy.
  3. Its National Conferences or rather caucuses were invariably held at the same time as and between sessions of the A.N.C. Annual Conferences and the main item which was discussed was the ‘line` to be adopted by the Youth League delegates in ANC Conferences.

It can thus be seen that during this period the Youth League was really of a `party’ within the A.N.C. whose members were adherents of African Nationalism. This preoccupation with the Philosophy of African Nationalism and the reform of A.N.C. policy, naturally attracted only intellectual youth. To the Youth Leaguers then, the mobilization of the vast masses of youth was of secondary importance. There was quite a strong feeling that the League should maintain its purity by not becoming a mass movement.

Young theoreticians

The sharp criticisms of A.N.C. policies from Youth Leaguers resulted in a lack of harmony, suspicion and sometimes open hostility between Congress leaders and Youth Leaguers. A.N.C. leaders like Champion regarded the Youth Leaguers as ‘upstarts’ who wanted to usurp their positions. On the other hand, Youth Leaguers in many cases despised the old established leadership of the A.N.C. Because of these attitudes, not a single ANCYL branch was established at the instance of the A.N.C.

It is important to realise that the keen interest shown by members of the Youth League at its inception, in matters of political theory and questions of policy is not a peculiar feature of the development of the ANCYL. It would be an error to contend that the ANCYL should from its inception have confined itself to youth problems. Such a view ignores the concrete conditions, which existed, the serious defects within the A.N.C. in the form of the lack of some form of militant programme of action, and the characteristics of intellectual youth, who invariably have a keen desire for political theory. The contribution of the
ANCYL towards introducing reforms within the A.N.C. to establish it as a mass organisation should not be underestimated. It is, however, unfortunate, that whilst the Youth Leaguers were keen to see organizational changes in the A.N.C. they paid little attention to the Youth

League as an organisation; whilst they wanted the A.N.C. to become a mass organisation which would unite the people and rely on the strength and confidence of the masses of the people, nothing was done by the Youth Leaguers to make the ANCYL a mass Youth movement, which would unite the masses of youth and rely on their strength and confidence.

From 1949 to 1952 the ANCYL devoted its energies to supervising the implementation of the Programme of Action, the boycott of the N.R.C., the National Day of Protest and the Civil Disobedience, aspects of the programme. There was during this period an appreciable increase in members from the working youth. But there were still, no fundamental changes in the organisational methods and activities of the Youth League.


During the Defiance Campaign, although hundreds of youth volunteered and defied, the Youth League was disorganised at all levels. There were various reasons for the disorganisation of the Youth League, namely:

The National Conference of the Youth League which was held in the Transvaal in April, 1953 attempted to redefine the tasks of the Youth League by resolving to form a mass Youth movement.

Although the weakness of the Youth League could be attributed to its exclusive political activities, this is not the sole cause. After the A.N.C. resolved that a Youth League should be formed it took absolutely no interest in the formation and development of the movement.

Instead, when the leadership was faced with the criticism of their ‘baby’ some condemned and renounced it, others wanted it controlled and disciplined, but they did nothing positive either way. These prejudices and indifferences towards the Youth League still manifest themselves today.

Progressive nationalism

Another source of prejudice against the Youth League arises from the fact that some people believe that it is a reactionary organisation. This charge arises from ignorance of the official policy of the ANCYL. The basic policy of the ANCYL clearly rejects chauvinistic Nationalism, and warns against fascist Nationalism and advocates a progressive Nationalism which will take into consideration the inalienable rights of all minority groups.

It is true that the full implications of such a progressive Nationalism had not yet been worked out, but concrete activities clearly indicate the trend of development of the policy of the Youth League. In 1947 the Youth League sent a delegate to the 2nd World Festival at Prague. In 1950 the Youth League unequivocally condemned the reactionary National-minded bloc who were opposed to a progressive alliance. An article entitled the ‘Nationalist Bloc` in the September 1951 issue of the `Lodestar states:-

"The ANCYL writes to expose to its members in particular and the African people in general, the character of these (National-minded bloc) backward looking and reactionary elements that hide the real nature of their activities by voicing Nationalistic fulminations and slogans . . .

"The Congress is a National Liberatory Movement, within whose fold will be found many shades of political opinion ranging from extreme right to extreme left, which reflect the development of the African people as an entity striving to overthrow foreign domination.

At the present historical stage this organisational form of Congress is politically correct!`

The policy of the Youth League is further clearly expressed in the Editorial of the same issue, in which the decision of the Joint Executives of the A.N.C., S.A.I.C. and Franchise Action Council to establish a Planning Council for the purpose of co-ordinating activities is welcomed and further states that:

"We do not advocate the doing of anything which may place at a disadvantage the national and international position or our struggle. Consequently we also welcome the decision of the National Executive to co-operate with the other National Organisations in the country as long as they support our struggle for independence. On this basis we should also welcome alliances with those world powers which are in full accord with our aspiration/`

It is on the basis of this policy that the Youth League has jointly with the T.I.Y.C. and Students` Liberal Association, annually organized the Colonial Youth Day Celebrations since 1950. It is also on the basis of this policy that the ANCYL at its annual conference in 1953, resolved that it supported world peace and was opposed to war against the Soviet Union and also resolved to affiliate to the World Federation of Democratic Youth.

It is unfortunate that these developments within the Youth League which are an expression of its policy have not been carefully observed and given their true significance, and some people have dogmatically adhered to their own prejudices. They refuse to accept, appreciate and encourage the development of the Youth League.

Since 1952, when the old "Party" Youth League was disorganised, the Youth League attempted to redefine its tasks in the light of the new conditions. A small dissident group which regarded itself as a repository of African Nationalism continued to attack the policy of the ANC, the disruptive saboteurs now call themselves the Africanists. Their activity represents a dying feature of the old ANCYL. The growing feature is one where Youth Leaguers unequivocally accept the leadership of the ANC and they are attempting to use new methods of organisation in order to build a mass Youth Movement.

At the present stage of the development of the youth movement, it is of fundamental importance that people in the liberatory movement and Youth Leaguers themselves should eradicate incorrect traditional suspicions, prejudices and beliefs. It is only when we have got rid of these attitudes that we can really get down to the historic task of building a mass youth movement.

The importance of mobilising the youth for the liberatory movement, cannot be disputed. To neglect the youth would be to neglect a vital and virile force of the liberatory movement. The Congresses must therefore adopt a more positive interest in the development of the Youth Movements.

One way for both

The fundamental objects of the youth movements must necessarily be the same as the fundamental purpose of the Congresses. This cannot be otherwise since the youth suffer the same oppression as the people of South Africa. However, because of the peculiar characteristics, needs and interests of the youth, youth movements cannot merely be Junior Congresses. The keen interests of youth in sporting and cultural activities, require that the methods of organisation of a Youth movement should conform to these interests, and the activities of the movement should not merely be confined to political agitation but should extend to cultural and sporting activities. Culture and politics are inextricably bound together and cultural activities properly organized can serve not merely as recreation but can also raise the political understanding of the youth.

The expansion of the activities of the youth movements will naturally attract younger youth, and will also unite the peasants, working and student youth. Youth leaders should study the problems, needs and interests of the various sections of the youth, in order to unite them. The programme which was adopted at the annual conference of the Youth held on the 30th March, 1956, is an important step in this direction.

Whilst in the past, the growth of the Youth League was partly due to preoccupation with political theory and activities, it would be incorrect to contend that a Youth movement should not concern itself with political theory at all. Political education and activities are essential to raise the political understanding of the youth. The political education must be provided by the African National Congress. Political education will give life and purpose to the cultural and sporting activities.

The inclusion of the African National Congress Youth League in the African National Congress draft constitution, as an auxiliary body is correct. In the past, leading members of the African National Congress were free to disown the Youth League when it was convenient, and mischievous Youth Leaguers have claimed autonomy and even the right to flout African National Congress decisions.

Although the Youth League was the African National Congress Youth League there was no clarity as regards the exact relationship between the African National Congress and the Youth League. It was this very situation, which stimulated the `party` activities of the Youth League in the past. One cannot agree with Alan Doyle in his article in the February issue of Liberation when he says that the proposal to include the Youth League (ANC) in the constitution would “perpetuate the unhealthy position of the African National Congress Youth League as a separate political grouping with a platform of its own.” This is exactly what the draft was to avoid. The old constitution did not include the Youth League and it is difficult to understand Alan Doyle`s reasoning. It would restrict the activities of the Youth League if they were included as "integral parts" of the African National Congress, it would deprive it of an opportunity of broadening its activities. However, to exclude it altogether and to ask the Congress to rely for the exercise of its leadership merely on its political correctness, would be to ask for the liquidation of the African National Congress Youth League, and in fact all the other Congress Youth Movements.

A true youth movement

What excuse would there be in establishing Congress Youth movements when there already exist hundreds of Youth Movements, if the Congresses have to rely on their political correctness only?

The solution seems to be that Youth movements should accept as a minimum the aims and objects of the African National Congress, and that they should be independent in regard to their activities, in order to be broad and to organise the masses of the Youth. The Youth movements should report their activities to the African National Congress and the A.N.C. should take an active part in establishing Youth League branches.

There is the other problem of the age limit within the Youth movement. In determining this limit I suggest that we should look for guidance in youth movements in other countries and also the World Federation of Democratic Youth.

The organisation of the Youth movements on the pattern of the Congresses is correct. The unity of the three sections is growing step by step on the basis of concrete joint activities. It is, however, unfortunate that there are not sufficient cultural and social joint activities on regional, Provincial and National level, on the lines of the Youth Festivals. Such activities would serve to remove the artificial barriers imposed to separate the youth. The Youth Action Council which was established to co-ordinate youth activities it is hoped, will consider increasing such joint intercourse and social activities.

The co-ordination of the activities of the Youth movements through the Youth Action Council is no longer sufficient. If the Youth movements have to keep the close contact with the masses of Youth, it is essential that they should keep in close contact with organisations of youth.

From the organisational point of view the following are the tasks of the Youth movement, if it wants to become a mass Youth movement:-

  1. The immediate establishment of a students organisation which will organise the secondary and university students.
  2. The establishment of cultural, social and sporting clubs for theYouth.
  3. The formation of a Federal Youth Movement, to co-ordinate the activities of all the Youth organisations in the country. Such a Federation would enable the Congress Youth Organisations to keep in contact with the Youth and it would enrich the experience of our Youth movements in regard to the problems, needs and interests of the Youth.

Editor’s note
* Duma Nokwe was involved in the formation of the ANCYL branch at FortHare with his contemporaries.  After leaving FortHare, he became chair of the Youth League Orlando branch in 1952. He was elected Secretary General of the ANC Youth League in 1954, and served in this position until 1958. He was elected as ANC Secretary General at the 46th annual conference of the ANC in 1958 and served in this position until 1960.

For further biographical information on Nokwe, see:,duma.htm

Verwey, EJ. (1995). New dictionary of South African biography, Volume 1. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

A life of its own:  The autonomy of the ANC Youth League

A discussion document of the Provisional National Youth Committee (PNYC) of the ANC Youth League, first published in Mayibuye, March 1991.


On the question of the relationship with the ANC, the ANCYL’s (1991) draft constitution states:
The ANCYL shall be organizationally autonomous.  Based on the broad political perspective of the ANC, the policies and programmes of the Youth League shall, however, be determined by its membership in accordance with this constitution.  The ANCYL shall closely liaise with the ANC at all levels. 

The ANC (1991) Interim Constitutional Framework states:

The ANC Youth League will function as an autonomous body within the overall structure of the ANC, of which it shall be an autonomous part.

Meaning of autonomy

In the broad political and legal terms “autonomy” means “independence.”  This independence is, however, neither overall nor complete.  It is qualified.  In order to explain the understanding of this autonomy we confine ourselves to the ANCYL draft constitution.

The ANCYL draft constitution refers to organizational autonomy of the League from the ANC.  Organisational autonomy implies administrative autonomy.  It means independence in structure and activity.  The League is not merely an auxiliary or appendage of the ANC, but should have an organizational and administrative life of its own. 

This means the right of the League to convene and hold its own conferences; take resolutions which affect it and its programmes; and to elect its own leadership.  It has the right to establish its own infrastructure, its bank accounts and to run its own projects.

Political allegiance of the ANCYL to the policies and programmes of the ANC is founded on the common objective of establishing a unitary, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.  It means adherence to the policy, political programme, strategy and tactics and ideological view of the ANC.  On the other hand, the ANC always welcomes those ANCYL political positions which help to enrich its own policies.

In cases where conference and other leading structures of the ANCYL take decisions which affect the political positions of the ANC, those positions are subject to endorsement, modification or even disapproval by the National Executive Committee of the ANC. 

Correctness of autonomy

The ANCYL draft constitution states that the membership of the League of the League is open to all South Africans between the ages of 14 and 30 who support the policy and guidelines, aims and objectives of the League. Young people under 18, whilst they can become members of the Youth League, cannot join the ANC.

On the other hand, even if a young person is a member of the ANCYL, membership of the ANC is not automatic on reaching 18.  Such a young person must make his/her own individual voluntary application for membership of the ANC.  This means that there is a significant section of the membership of the League over which the ANC cannot lay any constitutional claim.

On the other hand there is a sizeable membership of the ANC between the ages of 18 and 35 which is not part of the membership of the ANCYL.  For them to become members they have to make a deliberate and conscious decision to join the Youth League.  Membership of the ANCYL cannot be assumed.

The youth can only be effectively participate in the liberation of our country and get involved in the building of a democratic South Africa on the basis of the totality of knowledge and experience handed over to it by older generations.  At the same time young people should not be encouraged merely to copy or assimilate what is handed over to them.  They should do that through an investigative and critical approach.

Real education in struggle on the part of the youth cannot be separated from their independent political involvement.  A profound appreciation by the youth of the democratic ideals we are fighting for is better consolidated if verified by their independent experience in struggle.  Autonomy of the League offers the opportunity for the realization of the boundless resources of energy, enterprise, initiative and free application of the creative potential of our youth.

The idealism, inexperience, sense of adventure and rebelliousness of the youth inevitably opens them up to mistakes.  We should not, however, be afraid of that.  The youth should be given more and more responsible tasks.  It is in that way that fresh forces of a new generation will be secured and trained.  It is in this way that the older generation is replenished and rejuvenated.

The autonomy of the Youth League makes it easier for it to ensure youthful life within itself.  The ANCYL should truly be an organization of young people, an independent living organism.  It should be geared towards guiding and satisfying their aspirations in political, cultural, intellectual and other fields. 

It is the task of all of us to constantly explain to our people the objective meaning of the enthusiasm of the youth for unfettered independence and independent involvement in the struggle.  We should explain that this enthusiasm is objectively and consciously political. 

The starting point is not to want to suppress or look at it with suspicion but rather to advise and guide its direction.  It will be a big mistake to confuse the Youth League’s desire for organizational independence with insolence, dissension or lack of confidence in the ANC.

We are consciously aware that there are those who oppose the autonomy of the Youth League purely out of ignorance and lack of information as to what it exactly means.  At the same time there are those who do not agree with it because of conservative traditions.

Political education

It is towards these segments of our society that the full thrust of our political education and force of example should be directed.  Stifling the development of the youth militates against the very belief that our youth is the reserve force for our future struggles.  It is only a nation that does not deserve its future which can stifle the development of its youth.

What is stated above does not mean that the older generations should abandon its responsibility of guiding the youth.  Its guidance and criticism of the youth should appreciate the social character of the youth and the nature of the Youth League.  It should strive to avoid stereotypes and uniformity rigidly imposed from above. 

It should be conducted patiently and persuasively.  We should strive to combine mutual trust and respect between the young and the old.  In the event of persistent differences of opinion the supreme judge should be what objectively unites them: the liberation of our country and the construction of a democratic society.

Discipline of the youth should be built on a high sense of responsibility rather than of fear and rigid administrative methods which deprive the youth of confidence and initiative.  A greater scope of free activity should be utilized to engender a high degree of responsibility.  With autonomy, discipline should increasingly be enhanced to become self-discipline.


We should always be vigilant of those who want to set up the youth against the older generation. One form in which this conflict can come about is through a political dangerous slogan which elevates the place and role of the Youth League in particular and the youth in general to some “special place” as the vanguard of the struggle.

Sometimes this development manifests itself in the youth displaying lack of tolerance towards older people who sometimes caution against what they see as hasty or tactically incorrect militancy on the part of the youth.  In this regard we should always strive to strike a balance between impassioned militancy of the youth and the experience of the older generation. 

The ANCYL is still learning and will continue to learn as more and more young people come into its ranks.  It should always be ready to take constructive advice.

The autonomy of the Youth League shall make it easier for it to involve the youth independently in struggle, to organize, educate and unite them.  In the process of doing that it shall train both itself and those who look up to it for leadership.  It should also inspire respect from the older generation and contribute towards the enrichment of ANC policy, activity and tradition of struggle.

Note:  This document was subsequently adopted at the 1991 National Congress of the ANC Youth League in Kwandebele, and the draft constitution adopted with amendments.  Ed.

Notes on the History of the Alliance: A Discussion Document (1)

Eddy Maloka

Background and Summary

The history and nature of the Alliance, particularly the relations between the ANC and the SACP, have been in the news lately.  What follows below are extracts from the historical records of our liberation struggle which should shed more light on the history of this Alliance (with particular emphasis on ANC-Party relations) – how it has evolved over the years – and its dynamics.

A good starting point is perhaps the Report on Organisation presented by the CC of the SACP to its Augmented Meeting of 1970 wherein it is stated that:

A unity in action between all the oppressed groups is fundamental to the effective advance of our liberation struggle.  Previously this unity was expressed in the Congress Alliance.  In the post-Rivonia situation a number of changes occurred in the relationships between the groups which formally constituted the liberation front.  The Congress Alliance in the form in which it was moulded in the ‘50s ceased to exist.  Between Rivonia and 1966 the only two organisations which continued to operate collectively but … for all practical purposes independently, were the ANC and the Party [SACP]… For all practical purposes there was no functioning SACTU organisation inside the country.  Neither the CPC [Coloured peoples Congress] nor the SAIC [South African Indian Congress] existed either within or outside the country…(2)

The same observation had been made, among others, in the CC’s “Notes for Guidance in Discussion” which was developed for Party structures in preparation for the ANC’s Morogoro Conference of 1969.  The document made it clear that: “We are not now faced with the question of whether or not the Congress Alliance should be recreated in its old form.  This is historically and practically out of the question”.

As to relations between the ANC and the Party, the CC Report on Organisation for the 1970 Augmented Meeting explained:

This [i.e. the formation of MK] was not the first occasion when the Party and the ANC co-operated intimately in the prosecution of our revolutionary tasks; it had its precedents in the impressive mass struggles of the ‘50s.  Although for historical reasons no formal relationship was ever created between the Party and the ANC, it is no exaggeration to claim that in the pre-Rivonia period they were the two most powerful pillars of the liberation front.  There is no constitutional formula or framework within which this close relationship would fit.  It did not even express itself in a joint meeting and certainly not in any sort of formal agreement; yet it was uniquely close and was understood by most.(3)

From the foregoing and extracts to follow later in this document, the following summary can be made:







The Alliance in Exile

We should begin here with the London Memo of 1966 which was addressed to the ANC leadership on “Problems of the Congress Movement”.  The essence of the argument in the Memo was that “a nation at war requires a Council of War” built around organisations that comprised the Congress Alliance.  The authors of the Memo admitted that:

… the machinery of the Congress Alliance as it existed in the past is clearly inadequate for the tasks which face our movement today.  We are faced with the sort of problems which many revolutionary people have faced at a certain stage in their history.  The preparations for revolutionary struggle including armed struggle and guerrilla warfare call for new forms of organisation [and] new forms of alliance… We feel therefore that attention should be directed to the creation of new forms of alliance or revolutionary front organisation suitable to our struggle and in accordance with South African conditions.(6)

The Memo then called for an inclusive but ANC-led “top level meeting” to take forward this discussion.

The ANC subsequently established a Sub-Committee to examine the London Memo and make recommendations.  The Sub-Committee met in August 1966 - with Moses Kotane, JB Marks and Duma Nokwe present – and agreed with the idea of a top-level meeting, but, among others, made the following observations:

We also agree [with the London Memo]  that from time to time and as circumstances change the Alliance, its machinery, its form might have to be changed in order to make it function more effectively in new conditions.  Indeed the history of the alliance demonstrates that from time to time it had adapted itself to changing conditions with the view to making it more effective.

Its foundations were made in Xuma-Dadoo-Naicker pact in 1946 [sic].  This established cooperation between the ANC and what is now the SAIC.  These organisations with the support of the Franchise Action Council jointly launched the Defiance Campaign… Subsequent to the formation of the COD it too joined the Alliance and so did SACTU.

The next historic stage was for the preparation for the Congress of the People and the establishment of the National Action Council.  The Freedom Charter was the embodiment of the common aspirations and objectives of the members of the Congress Alliance

The machinery which was agreed upon to give effect to this historic pledge [in the Freedom Charter]  was [the] joint Executive Committee meetings and in between them the National Consultative Council.  These were the organs through which each organisation could make proposals of policy and action to the others, which were free to accept, modify or reject the proposals made.  It was never disputed that because of the situation in South Africa the African National Congress was the leader of the Alliance. (7)

The Sub-Committee then went on to explain two “problems which have faced the cooperation and joint action of the liberation force of the Congress Alliance” in exile.  The first problem was the abortive attempt to establish the United Front compromised of the ANC, SAIC, PAC, SWAPO and SWANU.  With the failure of the United Front, according to the Sub-Committee, “the problem then arose: what form of machinery must be established” in exile?  The Sub-Committee continued:

Should there exist an alliance externally as exists internally?  The question was debated and discussed and it was decided that the situation internally and externally differ; internally the Congress Alliance and its constituent organisations exist because of objective reasons and they had definite functions.  The conditions externally differ and require that the image of the African National Congress as the leading organ of the liberation movement should be projected.  This was no fiction which was being created but was a fact which had been implicitly accepted at home and required projection abroad.

The second problem raised by the Sub-Committee was that when the ANC turned to armed struggle, it presented its idea to its Alliance partners but the SAIC and the CPC never accepted the idea.  It was then the view of the Sub-Committee that this fact made the idea of a Council of War comprised of constituent organisations of the Alliance impossible.  However, the Sub-Committee emphasised that members of the SAIC and CPC were free to (and did) join the armed struggle in their individual capacity.

One observation to be made here is that in its detailed analysis of the history of and challenges facing the Congress Alliance in its nine-page document, the Sub-Committee – comprised of leading figures of the SACP - made no reference at all to the SACP.  This is a confirmation of the point made by the Party in its document cited above that the Party was not part of the Congress Alliance.  This may have been due to the fact that the Party was banned and underground during the heydays of the Congress Alliance in the 1950s.

Nevertheless, these exchanges, including recommendations of the Sub-Committee, resulted in the ANC convening a consultative meeting on the Congress Alliance in November 1966 in Dar es Salaam.  The meeting, in its resolution, “reaffirmed that the ANC is the leader of the National Liberation struggle in South Africa”.  In this resolution, the meeting also “agreed that at the moment conditions do not exist for the formation of an FLN-type of organisation for the direction of the struggle in South Africa”.  The FLN – the National Liberation Front of Algeria – was formed in 1954 out of the merger of a number of groups that were fighting for the independence of Algeria.  The inclusion of the reference to the FLN was clearly intended to dismiss the idea of forming a new organisation in exile to replace the ANC.  However, a Consultative Congress Committee (CCC) was established as a sub-committee of the ANC for coordination, consultation and cooperation with various forces of our liberation struggle.  The CCC was to be replaced with the Revolutionary Council at the ANC Morogoro Conference of 1969.

At its plenary session of 1967 the CC of the Party, in one of its resolutions, commended the ANC for having convened the consultative meeting, and noted that:

We understand that a machinery has been set up by the ANC to draw in the various elements of the liberation movement and coordinate their work.  We welcome and approve of this decision.

However, as an independent organisation… we feel that our Party too should be included in the proposals for greater cooperation of the liberation movement.

We are prepared to take part in such detailed discussions as may be mutually agreed upon on all questions of common concern… (8)

Clearly, the suggestion here is that the Party was initially not part of the CCC that was established out of the consultative meeting.  This situation was, however, corrected later.

The next step was the Morogoro Conference of 1969.  The conference solidified the ANC as an organisation and an ideological force, and formalised the process of including other oppressed groups and organs such as the SACP into the liberation alliance under the leadership of the ANC. A Revolutionary Council, with representatives from other Congress Alliance partners was established for the co-ordination of the struggle inside the country.  The Revolutionary Council replaced the Consultative Congress Committee.

For the first time in exile, a meeting took place on the sidelines of the Morogoro conference between the Party and the ANC. Present at the meeting, chaired by JB Marks, were nine persons including OR Tambo, Yusuf Dadoo, Joe Slovo, Michael Harmel and Joe Mathews. Areas of disagreement between the two organisations revolved around three points, namely whether the Party should establish its units in the MK; lack of contact between the Party and ANC leadership; and confusing interpretations of the Party’s vanguardist role. (9)

Tambo, speaking on behalf of the ANC, told the meeting that: “I have no hesitation in saying that meetings of this kind should be continued and that the two leaderships should have regular discussions on the common problems facing us in bringing our revolution to its successful conclusion”.  His view on why ANC-Party relations worked in the pre-Rivonia period was that: “It is, I believe, because of the special character of the SACP which in many respects is also unique.  It has shown the sort of flexibility which one does not always see in other organisations claiming to be Communist.  It has not stuck to narrow and orthodox ways of working”.

He also explained  - on the issue of the establishment of Party structures in MK - that: “I must be frank and say that on the odd occasions when the question of SACP members in the army meeting as separate groups was raised, my reaction was to express disapproval.  The reason for this, I still consider valid in the special circumstances which face us”.   He was concerned that: “We must not provide the evidence which our enemies so badly want, to show (what is of course quiet untrue) that the SACP runs the ANC”.

His view, with respect to contact with the ANC, was that he had always understood the contact he had with Kotane, Marks and Nokwe to constitute contact with the Party: “Some of us, including myself, have been unaware of the gap which appears to have existed between the two bodies as collectives. We have not always felt the need for joint discussions of this character because we had thought that the party was a collective and operates as a collective.  This seemed to meet all the requirements of contact mainly through some of its leading members in the ANC”.  It was, however, resolved that a CC member, to be designated, was to act as a link with Tambo.

In relation to a citation by Slovo from an SACP leaflet which was targeted at MK that, among others,  “Communists wherever they are, represent the high ideals of Communism and the liberation of all mankind from the bonds of oppression”, Tambo warned that: “At the moment whatever we do we must avoid creating conditions for competition or to even suggest that some sections of the army should operate on a lower scale of values”.

For his part, Marks raised a concern relating to the issue of vanguardism, that: “…the isolation of our members from the SACP has created wrong attitudes even towards some basic problems of the South African revolution. There is even a questioning of the wisdom of the present democratic phase of our revolution led by the ANC.  The SACP – as it has in the past – can be of great help in clearing up such issues”.  Marks was here referring to a view current within some circles in the Party’s London groups which confused the Party’s vanguard role with the issue of leadership within the liberation movement.

He also shared Tambo’s view that there was no problem with the Party establishing contact with its members in exile, but the challenge was in the how part: “I think we are all convinced that it should not be public; yet it should also not be of such a conspiratorial nature that it created suspicion and resentment. If we could steer clear of factions and divisions then a beginning could be made to solving the problem”.

In the end, the decision was that the Party could not establish units within the MK, but could appoint a CC representative in each of the major centres in exile to maintain discreet contact with soldiers; but outside the army, the Party could set up its collectives.   

But the outcome of the Morogoro conference was not without controversy. Some members of the ANC who were unhappy with the outcome of Morogoro organised themselves into a “dissident” group because, according to them, the conference had resulted in the ANC being taken over by minorities, and the SACP in particular. The dissidents’ view was based on the fact that the ANC had formally opened its ranks to non-African groups, but only insofar as the latter could not be elected to the National Executive Committee. Secondly, the dissidents were concerned that non-Africans, including leading SACP members such as Slovo and Dadoo, were elected to the Revolutionary Council. The dissidents’ efforts were to persist until the expulsion of the “Group of Eight” in October 1975 under the leadership of Tennyson Makiwane. Their view was that: “The SACP white leadership who oppose the political philosophy embodied in the concept of African nationalism and who oppose the African image of the ANC reflect their social and class roots as petty-bourgeois whites…” (10)

ANC-Party Relations

The best summary of the state of relations between the ANC and the Party in the 1960s is what Joe Slovo said in his verbal report to the CC plenary session of 1972, that:  “We were correctly criticised that our MK cadres (Comrades the Party had sent out) were sent into battle and some of them died without even a message from the Party.  But the truth as we know it is that we read about the ZAPU-ANC alliance in The Times and it is in the same paper that we learnt of the Zimbabwe offensive”. (11)

Also, during the 1960s and 1970s, the Party was still struggling with its Leninist notion of vanguardism within a liberation movement that was led by the ANC. The Party’s 1962 programme, Road to South African Freedom, had tried to distinguish between one position where the “Communist Party unreservedly supports and participates in the struggle for national liberation headed [my emphasis]” by the ANC, and the belief that the “immediate task of the Communist Party is to lead the fight for the national liberation of the non-White people [my emphasis]”. The distinction between “headed” and “lead” aside, there was confusion within the Party’s ranks, especially among comrades in London, on what constituted the vanguard role of the Party; others argued that such a role implies that the Party was, in effect, a leader of the national democratic struggle. This interpretation created problems with the ANC as indicated above. 

The CC report on Organisation for the Augmented meeting of 1970, tried to address this question in the following manner: 

Are we doing violence to the vanguard principle when we talk in our programme of the ANC leading the liberation alliance?  Is not this formulation inconsistent with the formulation in the very same programme: “the central and immediate task of the Communist Party is to lead the fight for the national liberation of the non-white people and for the victory of the democratic revolution”?  Not at all!  If correct leadership of the democratic revolution requires the strengthening of the national movement as the major mass organisational force, then this is precisely the way in which a Party exercises its leading and vanguard role in the real (and not vulgar) sense of the term.  As long as the Party does not itself lose its independence, identity and guiding role, the support for, and collaboration with bodies like the FLN (as in Vietnam) or the ANC (as in South Africa) and their projection as a force leading the struggle is in no way inconsistent with the true role of the vanguard organisation.

Joe Slovo’s “verbal” report to the 1972 CC meeting is also telling in this regard. According to Slovo: “A pattern has been set that the Party has call only on its white, Indian and Coloured members and [that] all Africans are the almost exclusive property of the ANC… Yet the fact that it [the Party] was restricted essentially to minority groups has caused and is continuing to cause enormous political damage”; an “impression has become even more entrenched that we are a minority organization. Loss of Moses [Kotane] and JB [Marks]… And no public African figure of stature seen to be at the top”. Furthermore, “…a view has become entrenched that we have only a qualified right to mobilize people at home under the Party’s banner”. Nor was the independent profile of the Party exempted from this challenge: “We hear attacks against us every time it leaks out that we take a collective stand on an important issue even in support of the ANC Executive… In other words we are expected to accept a position which makes a complete mockery of our independence.” If this trend were to continue, argued Slovo, “we might as well decide here and now to liquidate the Party”.

In the same verbal report, Slovo made the point that: “We have never claimed that the Party exercises its vanguard role by proclaiming it, by pushing itself publicly as the initiator of all revolutionary action, by steam rolling fraternal organisations to follow our point of view and so on.  This has always been alien to our method of leadership.  But we have always claimed that the Party as a collective has historical obligations to represent its class as ultimately the most potent and consistent revolutionary force both in the struggle for national liberation and socialism.  And somewhere in the process this concept got lost in exile.  The relevance of stressing once again the unhappy period outside soon after Rivonia is that even now we have not altogether rediscovered this concept.  In words, yes… But in practice?”

Slovo also revealed in the same verbal report that: “Another pattern has been set that the determination of revolutionary strategy is somehow no longer the Party’s business…  OR [Tambo] complaint about our CC meeting prior to RC [Revolutionary Council] meeting… OR’s complaints about our last extended [augmented] meeting”.

Similarly, a report sent after the 1975 CC plenary meeting by the Secretariat to Chris Hani (who was then operating in Lesotho), raised a related concern: “OR’s attitude remains an extremely complex one. At the RC meeting itself he paid tribute to the Party but in his own rather complicated way, he emphasized the need for the Party to work in the tradition of Malume [Kotane] by which he understands that it should not really be organized as an independent force”. (12)

 Slovo’s remarks were not an exaggeration of tensions that existed between the ANC and the Party during that period.  Some key ANC figures even monitored what was published in the African Communist.  For example, Alfred Nzo wrote a long letter in March 1972 to JB Marks and Moses Kotane (while the two were hospitalised in Moscow) to update them on developments within the ANC.   The letter included a paragraph on Johnny Makatini as follows:

Our office in Algeria is coming out more boldly and openly as one of the centres of this reactionary intrigue [the “dissidents”].  Not so long ago Johnny Makatini circulated to all the offices of the ANC including the office of the Acting President a letter in which he was complaining of the publication in the African Communist of a letter written to the editor of the AC by one of the Algerian comrades in exile.  The letter which he claims was anti-Algerian appeared in the last issue of the AC.  Of course, it is known that Johnny had long given himself the task of scrutinising and adversely commenting on some of the articles that appear in the AC.  This in the past was done secretly and communicated to certain quarters.  What is new now is that he has publicly circulated his views and this may mean an all-out open campaign to isolate the Party from the African National Congress. (13)

In the same breath, one senior Party member wrote to Slovo in November 1974 from Dar es Salaam about a certain senior ANC comrade as follows:

… the old chap seems to be having too many ideas in his head… he wants to bring back… Makiwanes… and all the dissident groups.  In a word, he wants to bring back all the anti-Party groups.  His main worry as I can see is our FAMILY [the Party].  This is reflected in the remarks he made when they came back from the trip with the ‘headman’… that the AC projected his Vice President as a chief ideologist… As he was saying that, I was searching for the AC in question.  I opened the chapter which has your interview and showed him that there’s no such a thing in the AC.  He kept quiet, but his face registered disapproval of my explanation. (14)

At least, between the Morogoro conference in 1969 and the expulsion of the Group of Eight in 1975, ANC-Party relations were overshadowed by activities of “dissidents” and the spirit of mistrust this engendered among comrades in both the ANC and the Party (as indicated by citations above). By the time of the CC plenary session of 1977, problems were still being experienced in securing regularised meetings with the ANC.  The minutes of this CC meeting reported as follows under the item “Party-ANC Discussions”: “New attempts to be made”.

The CC Discussion Document of 1980 on “The Role of the Party and its Place in the National Liberation Movement” pointed out (perhaps with a bit of spicing) that “since 1970 there have been regular joint meetings between representatives of the leading organs of the party and the ANC.  However, even more needs to be done in order to ensure an ongoing exchange of views and ideas and to reach agreement on all basic policy questions in a rapidly changing and volatile situation in our country”. (15)

The same Discussion Document was an attempt to tackle the difficult issue of the vanguard role of the Party in a liberation struggle that is led by the ANC.  The Document cites a contribution to this debate from one of the Party units which complained that: “For some time now there has been a wrong tendency in our practical work to play down the leading role of the working class in order to maintain diplomatic relations with the ANC”.  The Document then pondered the “Frelimo way” as an option for South Africa – that is, whether the ANC could be transformed into a Marxist-Leninist Party.  In the end the Document argued: “There is certainly no significant tendency either within the ANC or the Party which interprets the phrase ‘national liberation movement headed by the ANC’ as meaning that the ANC leads and the others must just follow”.  According to the Document: “The substance of our alliance in which the ANC has always had a special public place, is the degree to which the unfolding strategy and broad tactics of our revolution are the product of joint democratic decisions by all the partners in the alliance”.

This approach, difficult in its formulation and comprehension as it was, was consistent with what was decided at the 1970 Augmented meeting in the resolution on “The Party as a Leading Force and Relations with the ANC”.  This resolution had argued that “experience has shown that the Party can fulfil its vanguard role without ‘being at the head’ of the movement in a physical or public sense.  Our leadership must rather depend on the correctness of our political line, on our ability to win non-Party comrades to supporting our line, and on our cohesiveness as an organisation”.

This approach was not easy to implement on the ground, hence the type of relationship that developed between the ANC and the Party had in fact failed in other parts of the world.  This fact is what informed Tambo’s remark on other communist parties at the ANC-SACP meeting of 1969.  The theory of Colonialism of Special Type had indeed enabled the Party to move closer, ideologically, to the ANC.  But the how part of the “vanguard” and “leading” role was still among the thorny issues in ANC-Party relations. 

The Party was indeed committed to influencing the content and direction of the ANC as a nationalist movement. One good example in this regard is a circular to units issued by the Lusaka Regional Committee dated 23 April 1986:

The ANC Department of Political Education is to start its work soon. Units must ensure that all members take active part in the work of this organ – attend the discussions, make effective Party input into the whole programme and assist whenever necessary. We consider this work very essential in that it is one important forum for Party ideological work within the liberation movement, for our education and establishing which among NLM [national liberation movement] cadres have the potential to become Party members. (16)

Nevertheless, the 1980s were much better for relations between the ANC and the Party because, among others, of the relocation of the Party’s headquarters from London to Luanda in 1981, and, the following year, to Maputo, and, after the Nkomati Accord, to Lusaka (where the ANC headquarters were located).

Not only was the Party now taking part in meetings between the ANC and SACTU aimed at strengthening the labour movement inside the country, but the Party and ANC, in one instance, “had exhaustive discussions on the internal situation and future co-operation”. At another meeting with the ANC held in 1982, it was agreed that the two organisations should meet at least twice a year.

The 6th Congress of the Party (held in November 1984), by adopting a new Constitution, also tamed the confusion that reigned around the vanguard role of the Party, and this should have helped strengthen ANC-Party relations.  While the new Constitution’s Preamble, under “Aims”, reaffirmed that the SACP “is a leading political force of the South African working class and is the vanguard in the struggle for national liberation, socialism and peace in our time”, this is however qualified later under the same section: the Party was “to participate in and strengthen the liberation alliance of all classes and strata whose interests are served by the immediate aims of the national democratic revolution. This alliance is expressed through the liberation front headed by the ANC”. (17)

The acceptance of the ANC leadership of the Alliance by the Party was also expressed in the central role that Tambo later played in the management of ANC-Party relations.  Not only did Tambo, among others, develop a practice of approving the list of Party members being sent to Lenin School; permission of the ANC was also sought for the release from some ANC duties of both Moses Mabhida and Slovo when they were elected to the position of General Secretary in the Party. (18)

By 1985, the concept of “tripartite” alliance – involving the ANC, SACP and SACTU – had entered the vocabulary of the liberation movement. Between the 6th Congress and September 1985, at least two formal tripartite meetings sat, and this figure increased to eight by the time of the 7th Congress of the Party in April 1989. (19)

However, caution was still needed in the management of the relations between the two organisations. For example, at one Politburo (PB) meeting in December 1984, a concern was raised that “we should be careful how we launch the new phase aimed at seeing that our Party functions and that in doing so the Party should avoid beginning to present itself as a leader of the current stage of the revolution; that we understand the phase we are in and that we keep a balance which will ensure that both [the] Party and [the] ANC grow stronger”. (20)

A resolution which was to be adopted by the 7th Congress of the Party on the “alliance” reflected weaknesses in the relationship between the two organisations that still needed attention. The resolution centred on the representation of the Party at meetings held between the ANC and SACTU and the MDM; the need for more regular and frequent Alliance meetings; and on the need to “ensure that members of the tripartite Alliance share information about their programmes and problems”.

Another issue which complicated relations between the ANC and the Party related to what the Party expected of its members who were active in the ANC and other organs of the liberation movement. An example in this regard was the famous resolution on “Party Work in Fraternal Organisations” which was adopted by the CC at its meeting of September 1981. According to the resolution: “It is the right and duty of communists working in the national movement to discuss and decide collectively on their common approach to all matters which affect the basic direction and content of the revolutionary struggle, and to ensure that they advance and support such decision in any organ in which the matter arises”. Furthermore, “every Party cadre who is active at any level of a fraternal organization is accountable to the Party collective to which he or she is a member for his or her work and conduct in that organization”. Party members in the were to be regularly assessed and guided by their units and regions, and “it is the duty of every Party collective to recommend appropriate disciplinary measures against any comrade who has been judged to have acted in breach of this resolution”.

This resolution was supposed to be kept secret, its contents confined to the Party as the CC had directed that: “A special procedure shall be adopted however, for the circulation of the resolution headed PARTY WORK IN FRATERNAL ORGANISATION.  This procedure shall ensure that only one copy is forwarded to each region and that the resolution be read by a member of the regional committee to each unit and returned for safe keeping”.
Similarly, in 1985, the CC noted in one of its documents that “it is vital… that already at this stage our Party should be able, with the full co-operation and agreement of the national liberation movement, to function in close and accepted forms so as to bring to the fore the noble aspirations of the labouring people in our country for socialism”. The document continued:

But it is not only a matter of co-operation and co-ordination at the policy and decision-making level that is of immediate interest to all Party members. It is also vital that the Party should be in a position to exercise discipline and control over all Party members, wherever they may be in the world or in whatever organization – military or otherwise – they may be active. It is important that our partners in the struggle must see this as something in the interest of the entire struggle, as it will enable a higher ideological level to be maintained as well as higher standards of unity and discipline all round.

This document was the recycled version of “Notes for Guidance in Discussion” which the CC circulated in the 1960s in preparation for the ANC Morogoro Conference.

Linked to this, however, was an aspect of the Party’s cadre policy which required that “no member shall, without the permission of the CC, directly or indirectly divulge the facts of his or her membership to the Party or the identity of any other member to any unauthorized person”. (21) This, linked to the September 1981 CC resolution on “Party Work in Fraternal Organisations” which required Party members to account for their activities in the ANC, was a very complex issue and politically not without problems.

This approach by the Party was somehow a departure from what Slovo had said at the 1969 meeting between the ANC and the SACP, that: “Leading members of both organisations who functioned at both levels never hid their identities either as Communists or as ANC members.  None of them was ever there to ‘capture’ either organisation for the other but to achieve the maximum political impact for our common aims”.

As Marks had anticipated at the 1969 ANC-SACP meeting, many comrades interpreted this approach by the Party to mean that the Party was a “caucus” within the liberation movement. Hence, in one of its meetings, the PB received a report from one of its regions that “it was felt that there is not sufficient accounting to the Party and that not enough Party directives are given in relation to fundamental questions… [O]ur Party must maintain its traditional approach of not undermining the integrity and independence of the ANC and that it would be wrong for the Party to act as a caucus on every issue which arises in the fraternal organization. Nevertheless it is the duty of the Party to give guidance on major fundamental questions of political principle.”  (22)

The Lusaka Region of the Party, in its report of August 1982 to the PB, noted that “our Party life in exile, and the stunted style of work to which we have become accustomed, has resulted in”, among other things, “the development of conspiratorial characteristics in our style of work” not least because of “our reluctance to show our Party face to other members of the family [the liberation movement]”.

Indeed, getting Party members to account for their work in the ANC was not that easy. For example, the Lusaka Regional Committee, in its circular of 1 January 1983, called on its members: “In keeping with previous directives from the CC, the Regional Committee would like to have reports from units on the activities of members in the various sectors in which they are working. The PB remarks that there are serious weaknesses in the work of members in the NLM [national liberation movement], such as an absence of leadership by Party units on important questions of our revolution…” (23)

This history is what the ANC-Party relations inherited from our 30 years of struggle in exile.  Tambo summarised as follows this history in his address on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Party in July 1981:

To be true to history, we must concede that there have been difficulties as well as triumphs along our path, as, traversing many decades, our two organizations have converged towards a shared strategy of struggle. Ours is not merely a paper alliance, created at conference tables and formalized through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders.  Our alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle.  We have built it out of our separate and common experiences. (24)


Three conclusions can be deduced from the foregoing chronicle of the five phases of the history of the Alliance (and ANC-Party relations in particular) before the unbanning in 1990. These are:

It is hoped that this Discussion Document will enrich the ongoing debate present and future of the Alliance.


(1) Some of the material used in this paper are contained in the author’s The South African Communist Party in Exile, 1963-1990  (Tshwane: Africa Institute of South Africa, 2002); and “The South African Communist Party in the 1980s”, forthcoming in the 1980s volume of the Road to Democracy in South Africa (SADET) project.
(2) This Report is from the unsorted SACP archives to be known henceforth as “Unsorted Archives”. 
(3) The Report is in the Unsorted Archives.
(4) For some aspects of this background, see D Everett, ‘Alliance politics of a special type: The Roots of the ANC/SACP Alliance, 1950-1954’, Journal of Southern African Studies, vol 18, no 1, 1991; S Johns, ‘Generation of Histories of the Communist Party of South Africa’, Paper presented at the International Historical Conference, Moscow, 25-26 June, 1997; S Johns, Raising the Red Flag: The International Socialist League and the Communist Party of South Africa, 1914-1932, Bellville: Mayibuye Books, 1995. For the Party’s own publications, see A Lerumo, Fifty Fighting Years: The South African Communist Party, 1921-1971, London: Inkululeko Publications, 1971; SACP, South African Communists Speak: Documents from the History of the South African Communist Party, 1915-1980, London: Inkululeko Publications, 1981; B Bunting, Moses Kotane: South African Revolutionary, London: Inkululeko Publications, 1975.
(5) The Memo is in the Unsorted Archives.
(6) This Report is in the Unsorted Archives.
(7) Unsorted Archives, Central Committee, ‘The Results of the Consultative Conference of the ANC and the Tasks of the Party’, 1969
(8) Unsorted Archives, “ Notes on the Discussion Between a Delegation from the CC of the SACP and the NEC of the ANC”, circa 1969.
(9) For a detailed discussion of the “dissidents”, see L Callinicos, ‘Oliver Tambo and the Politics of Class, Race and Ethnicity in the African National Congress of South Africa’, African Sociological Review, vol 3, no 1, 1999; and V Shubin, ANC: A View from Moscow, Bellville: Mayibuye Books, 1999, pp 84-93.
(10) This Verbal Report is in the Unsorted Archives.
(11) Unsorted Archives, CC to Phoenix, 2/21/3/75, undated.
(12) This letter is in the Unsorted Archives.
(13) This letter is in the Unsorted Archives.
(14) This Discussion Document is in the Unsorted Archives.
(15) The Simons Papers, University of Cape Town Archives, SC BC1081, Lusaka Region Circular.
(16) SACP 1984 Constitution.
(17) See Umsebenzi, vol.3, no.2, 2nd Quarter, 1987, p.7.
(18) Inner-Party Bulletin, September 1985.
(19) Unsorted Archives, PB Minutes, 20 December 1984.
(20) SACP 1984 Constitution.
(21) Unsorted Archives, PB Minutes, 11-12 May 1981
(22) The Simons Papers, University of Cape Town Archives, SC BC1081.
(23) Unsorted Archives, PB Minutes, 11-12 May 1981.
(24) Oliver Tambo, “Our Alliance is a Living Organism that has Grown out of Struggle”, Address on the Occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the SACP, London, 30 July, 1981, Sechaba, September Issue, 1981, p.4.


Somaliland: An African Struggle for Nationhood and International Recognition, by Iqbal D Jhazbhay, Institute for Global Dialogue & South African Institute of International Affairs, Johannesburg, 2009, ISBN 978-1-920216-20-7

Foreword to book by Professor Ali Mazrui

This study contributes significantly to our understanding not only of Somaliland, but of the predicament of the Somali people as a whole.

Today, they are scattered over what used to be British Somaliland (capital Hargeisa), former Italian Somaliland (capital Mogadishu), former French Somaliland (now Djibouti), Ethiopia (the Ogaden), and Kenya. These are the five fragments they have been split into following the European scramble for Africa in the 19th and early 20th century.

In 1960, amid considerable euphoria, the former British Somaliland united with the former Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic. This emerging post-colonial state was widely regarded as the closest an African country could be to a classical nation-state. The new Somali republic was homogeneous in language (almost everybody spoke Somali), homogeneous in religion (almost entirely Muslim), homogeneous in political culture (based on a system of clans), and almost homogeneous in economic lifestyle (mainly pastoralist, but reinforced by fishing along the coast).

In the course of this study, we retrace some of the steps taken by Somalia during the first 30 years of independence (1960 to 1990). The earliest years promised the evolution of a pastoral democracy. Somalia was close to being the most open society in postcolonial Africa. There were high levels of political participation, open debates, and impressive political eloquence in the emerging parliamentary culture.

Against such a background, it would have been tempting to study the Somali story not as a case of nation-building but as one of national demolition, not as a case of political development but as one of political decay. Part of the originality of Iqbal Jhazbhay’s approach has been to transform this agenda. Instead of focusing on the disintegration of the Somali Republic, he has turned his attention to the resilience of Somaliland, which pulled out of the union in 1991. The Somali Republic can be studied as a case of national disintegration, but Jhazbhay draws lessons from the experience of Somaliland as a case of national integration.

The wider Somalia illustrates political decay, while Somaliland is an experiment in political development – what Jhazbhay calls a ‘bottom-up approach to nation-building’.

Because of high levels of poverty among people such as the Somali, social scientists have often been drawn to political interpretations based on economic causality – indeed, some scholars studying developing countries have been drawn to neo-Marxist forms of economic determinism. Jhazbhay has resisted the lure of economic explanations. He has opted instead for the primacy of culture as the central determinant of Somali behaviour. Thus he regards the main social forces at work among the Somali as ‘culturally rooted, and internally driven’.

The pre-colonial legacy inherited by all Somali people was a culture of rules rather than rulers. According to scholars, before Europeans arrived, Somali society was one of ‘ordered anarchy’. Governance was ultimately based not on a state’s monopoly of physical force but on consensus building within and among clans. There were no kings, sultans or emirs.

The imposition of European colonial rule interrupted the tradition of ‘ordered anarchy’. Nascent statehood was initiated. The colonial state certainly insisted on a monopoly of physical force. When the British and Italians departed, and their two former Somali colonies united into one republic, there was, for a while, ‘order’ without the ‘anarchy’. This stable ‘order’ was soon undermined by what Jhazbhay calls ‘the interplay of internal and external forces’. Mogadishu and its surroundings became increasingly militarized. The pre-colonial tradition of consensus building within and among clans was rapidly eroded. For a while, the Somali people experienced not ‘ordered anarchy’ but ‘ordered tyranny’, especially under Siad Barre. But the element of ‘ordered’ declined, and was replaced by ‘tyranny and disorder’.

The situation was exacerbated by the ‘interplay between internal and external forces’ during the Cold War. While the United States and Soviet Union competed for the allegiance of Mogadishu, consensus within and among clans was increasingly undermined. Tension between the clans of former British Somaliland and those of former Italian Somaliland escalated, and Puntland was caught in the crossfire. In the course of the 1980s the Somali Republic descended into chaos – a condition of post-colonial anarchy without pre-colonial order.

Jhazbhay takes us through the different stages of resistance, collapse, and conflict – illustrating what Ahmed Yusuf Farah has described as a ‘culture of locally based reconciliation-processing’.

After Northern Somalia’s withdrawal from the Union in 1991, the Horn of Africa experienced ‘A Tale of Two Somalias’. The Somalia of Mogadishu continued to be a case of anarchy without order, while the Somalia of Hargeisa was gathering momentum as a case of ‘bottom-up nation-building’, rooted in culture and energized from within.

To what extent were the differences between the Somalia of Mogadishu (chaotic) and the Somalia of Hargeisa (relatively stable) due to the differences between their former imperial powers (Italy and Britain)? Was the Italian legacy part of the explanation for Mogadishu’s chaos? Was the British legacy part of the explanation for the relative stability of the Somalia of Hargeisa? Jhazbhay does not buy such a simplistic explanation; instead, he ascribes the relative stability of Hargeisa to ‘the efficacy of Africa’s approach to bottom-up nation-building’.

Some Somali analysts in Hargeisa regard the British legacy as relevant for relative stability, and the Italian impact as contributory to chaos. But this was not because British political culture in the United Kingdom was more stable than Italian political culture in Rome. Hargeisa analysts have argued to me that British rule interfered less with indigenous clan culture in Hargeisa than Italian assimilationist pretensions had done in Mogadishu. British rule had therefore been less culturally intrusive than Italian imperial rule.

Jhazbhay has not tapped these issues of comparative colonial policy as much as he might have done. But he does allow for their relevance in ‘balancing tradition with modernity’, and in ‘comparative elite formation’ under different colonial powers.

The Somali have a love--hate relationship with the Arabs, but a great commitment to Islam. I am delighted that Jhazbhay found my concept of ‘Afrabia’ useful in the Somali context. He is also fascinating on what he describes as ‘the Global Islamic Civil War’ in relation to the ‘War on Terror’. Although the Somalia of Hargeisa has been less fundamentally affected by the politics of Islamism and Al-Qaeda than the Somalia of Mogadishu, Jhazbhay has confronted these issues of radicalized Islam frontally. These are forces affecting all Somali in one way or another.

Jhazbhay’s study of the people of Hargeisa sometimes comes close to being a case of participant observation in the tradition of British social anthropology. He has conducted wide-ranging interviews both within Somaliland and outside, and socialized with the people to get to know them better. He has also agonized with them about the stressful politics of international recognition. Hargeisa people have often complained that the international community is ready to spend millions of dollars on Mogadishu because it is chaotic, rather than spending any money at all on Hargeisa, precisely because it is stable. The international community is less interested in investing in the nation-building of Hargeisa than in the explosive tumult of Mogadishu. Jhazbhay has sympathized with these lamentations.

This study contributes significantly to our understanding of the Horn of Africa in the context of wider international forces. It also contributes to a number of different theoretical concerns – ranging from the role of culture in nation-building to the emerging forces of radical Islam, and from the nature of post-war reconstruction to the dilemmas between self-determination and regional integration.

We salute it as a major scholarly success.

Professor Ali Mazrui,  Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities BinghamtonUniversity

This Foreword is reprinted with kind permission from the author. Ed.

Review by Hussein M. Adam
This book review takes the form of an extended commentary highlighting some of the important issues, by the way of discussing the author`s theory, narrative and analysis.

According to the author, `the central hypothesis underlying this study is the importance of Somaliland`s example as a case study in the efficacy of the internally-driven, “bottom-up” approach to post-conflict nation-building and regional stability and the implications this approach holds for prioritizing domestic reconciliation between indigenous culture and traditions, and modernity in achieving relative stability and international recognition in the nation-building project` (p. 19). Given my familiarity with Somali studies literature, as well as my participant observation of Somali affairs, I find this study to be highly original, relevant, valid and timely. The originality is partly because both the Somaliland domestic and international experiences are unique. As the author states, this is a mid-level theory intended to qualitatively illuminate a case study that could be used in future as a building bloc towards a grand theory.

The author provides as an analytical tool what he terms a `quadrilateral framework`: reconciliation-reconstruction-religion-recognition. This allows him to compile a huge pile of data, dates and events and to present them in a structured and organised manner. All this leads to an original sub-theory of the dialectic between international relations and internal factors.

There are several articles on narrow aspects of the Somaliland experience and a few general reports by the War-torn Society`s Project and the International Crisis Group whose works are cited here. From my perspective, this is the first scholarly and substantial manuscript on Somaliland covering both domestic and international topics. Its survey of existing literature - books, articles, reports, newspapers, web-sites - is simply breath-taking. His nine field trips over a period of several years, have allowed him to check and recheck most of the data collected from various sources. He conducted interviews with an impressive list of personalities, including heads of state, ministers, diplomats, Somali studies experts, and other academics such as heads of research institutes. I happen to know many of them and they are relevant and knowledgeable.

Professor Jhazbhay is correct in pointing out that the elders are the engine that drives all reconciliation efforts in Somaliland; their absence in Somalia is partly responsible for the chaos in the south. This marriage of `tradition` and `modernity` is what allowed the north to survive two civil wars and now enjoy 18 years of peace. At the centre of the elders movement is the Council of Elders (the Guurti). Somali culture is rich in traditional institutions evidenced in its systems of land management, agricultural and grazing systems, conflict mediation, legal adjudication, and many related functions.

What facilitated the modern role of traditional elders? This study mentions the role of British colonialism. The British wanted colonialism `on the cheap`, therefore they practiced `indirect rule`, allowing traditional elders to manage grassroots politics. Jhazbhay sees this as a secondary rationale; after all, the British colonised India and Nigeria (where the term `indirect rule` itself was coined); yet India emerged with a liberal democracy while Nigeria experienced decades of military rule. The thesis points to the existential compromise between the liberating Somali National Movement (SNM) and the elders as the primary rationale. The SNM is also unique in being the only liberation movement that has voluntarily dissolved itself and allowed the elders to give power to a veteran politician, Mohamed Egal. The five-month-long gathering in Borama in 1993 was a Guurti project that laid the basis for a constitution. This study notes:

`In the case of Somaliland, clan leadership ascendancy was facilitated by the modernizing nationalism of the SNM which, ideologically, sought to bridge the cultural gap between tradition and modernity and which, from the standpoint of self-reliant pragmatic survival, depended on the clan elders as pillars of support in mobilizing the social base of insurgency and post-conflict governance` (p. 55).

Somaliland has gone on to adopt a constitution by referendum, and to hold local government elections followed by presidential and parliamentary elections.

With regards to reconstruction in Somaliland, the author suggests that the engine for it is a free (nearly) unregulated market economy. The expansion of the free market has been facilitated by the provision of security which is also a product of reconciliation. Women with piles of various currencies transact business in open markets. There is a need for limited and appropriate regulation and light but suitable taxation. The author is right to observe that, in both Somaliland and Somalia, there is a climate of opinion in favour of decentralisation and power sharing institutions. The focus on the diaspora is critical.

`Roughly half of Somaliland`s 3.5 million nationals have been estimated to live outside its borders` (p. 96). This diaspora provides remittances that sustain the country. For example, the export of livestock to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States is critical to the Somaliland economy. However, it is also its Achilles heel: from time to time Saudi Arabia bans such exports. On one such occasion, the ban lasted 14 months and the number of animals exported from Somaliland fell sharply from 2.9 million in 1997 to just over 1 million in 1998.

The chapter on religion (Islam) is crucial given recent events. Analysing the chapter, I come up with the following options before the Islamists:

  1. The civil society strategy - for example: `The Waxda movement has adapted a long-term strategy of developing a Muslim society by influencing by example via schools, charitable work, trade, etc., much in the same way of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt` (p. 116).
  2. The Jihadist option - those who want to impose, top-down, an Islamic state by all means, including violence and militarism.  In Somalia this movement, led by Hassan Dahir Aweys, captured Mogadishu and several parts of the south in June 2006 but were evicted by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ethiopian troops in December 2006. This study covered these events in the form of 2006 reflections. I do not see a future for jihadists in Somaliland as explained and analysed in the thesis.
  3. The Islamic courts movement - a large faction saw this as a civil society option and was willing to compromise with the TFG. However, a minority of jihadists hijacked the whole Sharia courts movement which led to the confrontation with Ethiopia.
  4. The constitutional, democratic option like Turkey - this alternative is compatible with Somaliland`s democratic political culture. Women are playing an increasingly prominent role in Somaliland civil society (in Somalia too). These initiatives have won general respect. During the post-Siyad era, women have assumed key roles in the economy, including taking jobs in retailing, money-changing, and local distribution of imported goods. They have played critical roles in peacemaking. They continue to prosper in teaching and medical professions. This study shows, however, that women are highly under-represented in political life including among the three main political parties. As far as women`s roles are concerned, there is the need to tilt the tradition-modernity dialectic a little more towards modernity. Their contribution in education has made this sector the most self-reliant.

The chapter on recognition provides a great deal of new information, with brilliant analysis. I come out with the conclusion that, while aiming for full recognition, Somaliland may have to opt for an interim special status. Nations sympathetic to Somaliland include Ethiopia, South Africa, Rwanda, Kenya (with some question mark) and the United Kingdom. Rwanda, in a recent AU session, tabled a resolution to discuss Somaliland. Arab States - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan - are generally against the recognition of Somaliland. This is mostly due to Egypt`s anti-Ethiopian politics over the Nile. Ethiopia is in a delicate position: it has used its military power to impose the TFG in Mogadishu. Will it allow the TFG to impose itself over Hargeisa? If it does so, it will reopen the Pandora`s box of Somali irredentism which will eventually consume Ethiopia`s Somali Region 5 (the Ogaden). If it recognises Somaliland too soon, it will alienate the TFG regime.

In any case, the fate of Somaliland and Somalia is in Ethiopian hands. This is contained in the analysis provided. What is preventing a dialogue between the north and south is a clash of political cultures. Deriving inspiration from its traditional reconciliation practices, Somaliland has evolved a secular democratic political culture. Somalia, for almost 15 years, was suffocated by brutal warlord culture. For a brief period it experienced a radical Islamist, jihadi political culture, and is now confronted by authoritarianism and neo-Siyadism.

This book facilitates the development of a new sub-field of International Relations dealing with the `internationalization of domestic transformation` (p. 17). Somaliland`s stability and democratisation needs recognition, and recognition will strengthen and sustain Somaliland`s stability and democratisation.

I summarise with one of the most insightful observations: the struggle for recognition helps to discipline Somaliland`s internal politics and society. He provides concrete examples of this domestic-international linkage and disciplining of Somaliland politics and society. For example, Somalilanders turned out in record numbers to vote in the constitution referendum because they are acutely aware of the international struggle for recognition. The domestic disciplining involves the elders, the business sector and leaders of civil society. The acceptance of the extremely narrow results (80 votes difference) in the presidential elections is due to these domestic actors plus awareness of the struggle for recognition. The same thing explains the very cordial and civil relations between the opposition parties (with a majority in parliament) and the ruling party. Since the hypothesis is confirmed, we may go on to predict that the disciplining of Somaliland is bound to increase as a result of the drastic events in Mogadishu and the coming to power of the hostile Abdulahi Yusuf.

The Somaliland experience is summed up by the observation: `Whether one embraces, rejects, or is ambivalent about Somaliland`s bid for recognition, Somaliland`s progress in democratization, stability, and economic recovery constitutes one of the few pieces of genuinely good news in the troubled Horn of Africa` (p. 153).

As a contribution to a new sub-field in International Relations and a penetrating original analysis of a unique socio-political experiment, I hereby commend this book with great enthusiasm.

*  Hussein M Adam, Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA; Founding President, Somali Studies International Association.  Email:

This review was first published in the South African Journal of International Affairs, vol. 16 (2), August 2009.  Reprinted in Umrabulo with the kind permission of the author. Ed.