Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COSATU Takes Up Nationalization Debate in South Africa; Buries Hatchet With ANC

Cosatu: Debate on nationalisation 'has been narrowed'


The debate over nationalisation started "wrongly and in the wrong
place", said Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi on Tuesday.

"It has been narrowed and it does an injustice to an otherwise very
necessary discussion about the role of the state in the economy," Vavi said at the launch of Cosatu's "Strategy for a New Economic Growth Path" document.

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has been the main proponent of the nationalisation of South African mines, and has catapulted the issue to be included in discussions at the ANC's
upcoming national general council.

"If we can let the demagogues win the discussion which is based on a singular, narrow focus on the mines, instead of looking at the state
broadly and nationalisation broadly, then we can only give rise to the
criticism that says ... that all these people are interested in is to
lay their hands on the mineral resources for accumulation," Vavi said.

He said an important discussion like nationalisation could therefore
be discredited.

Strategic role of the state

Cosatu, in its discussion document, proposed that nationalisation be
looked at in the context of the strategic role the state should play
in key sectors of the economy.

"If you read the documents in relation to all the areas we propose the
state must take a strategic interest in, that relates to the economy
where there are existing monopolies which we need broken up," he said.

Cosatu believes that through intervention by the state, resources can
be "liberated" or the state can take action to put in place industrial

"In relation to the area of mining ... we are not necessarily for
nationalisation of all the mines in South Africa; we don't think
that's a realistic proposal, but we do say that we need a state that
can have a company that can intervene in the strategic minerals."

He cited as examples the steel and platinum industries in which the
state should intervene.

The intervention had to be strategic and it should not be aimed at
complete ownership.

Vavi added that Cosatu had helped the ANCYL formulate its document on nationalisation. However, it was the youth movement's "public articulation" where they "lose the plot".

He said Cosatu would not "beat the youth league" for its stance on

"We must allow them to push so that the equilibrium, which is
strategic intervention, can be reached," he said.

'It is a well-considered document'

Cosatu's fiscal and monetary policy coordinator, Christopher Malikane, said South Africa needed a "mixed economy" with privately owned and state-owned entities.

Strategic sectors where state intervention was necessary included
mines, metals fabrication, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, forestry,
construction and finance.

Cosatu's proposal included a state-owned bank, pharmaceutical company and construction company.

Vavi said state-owned entities should be viewed in terms of the
benefits for South African society as a whole, instead of "narrowly
from an investor's perspective".

"This is not a mad document, it is a well-considered document."

Cosatu's vision for South Africa's future growth included creating
decent work, revising the tax system and monetary policy, boosting
industrial development, promoting collective and public forms of
ownership, and developing the Southern African region.

The growth path would address the "crisis" the country was facing,
which centred on the widening gap between the rich and the poor. --

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-09-14-cosatu-debate-on-nationalisation-has-been-narrowed

Cosatu, ANC bury the hatchet


Cosatu and the ANC want the focus of the ruling party's forthcoming
national general council (NGC) to be on policy issues, not leadership
squabbles, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

They also called on all components in the alliance, "including the
leagues", not to air their differences in public, but to use internal

"Both formations are committed to ensure that the NGC, as a policy
forum, retains its intended focus, which is to review progress in
taking forward the movement's policies, and does not get diverted by
divisive issues such as the untimely 2012 leadership question," said
the secretaries general of Cosatu and the ANC, Zwelinzima Vavi and
Gwede Mantashe.

The move appeared to be an attempt at avoiding a repeat of the 2007
Polokwane conference, which was dominated by a leadership tussle
between former president Thabo Mbeki and present ANC president Jacob Zuma.

"In this regard we agreed that both organisations must create an
atmosphere where such discussions will be conducted in a positive

'Internal processes'

"We call on all components of the alliance, including the leagues, to
reassert the long-standing tradition of allowing internal processes of
the movement to deal with any differences and concerns, and not take such issues to the public in an untimely manner."

They asked alliance leadership and other mass democratic movement formations not to make comments that would "spoil the environment" they hoped to create in the NGC, to be held in Durban in September.

Over the last few weeks ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema has spoken out about frustrations with redistribution, and his
interpretation of mine nationalisation according to the Freedom
Charter, which says resources shall belong to all in the land.

Without mentioning Zuma by name, he warned high-ranking leaders could easily be removed.

The statement, issued after a meeting between Cosatu and ANC leaders on Monday, said they had also agreed to meet before November to discuss points of difference in the alliance.

Common ground

This came after they examined a presentation of the Cosatu central
executive committee discussion paper on the alliance.

The ANC felt they had a lot of common ground, but the two would
"isolate" differences and discuss them further at the planned meeting.

"Areas of divergence of view will be isolated and further discussed
after the ANC national general council."

The ANC called the meeting after Cosatu said their alliance, which
also includes the South African Communist Party, was dysfunctional.

Cosatu also offered an apology to the ANC over comments directed at the ruling party and Zuma during the recent public-service strike.

"Such songs and insults do not reflect the traditions of [Cosatu] and
we understand these have a potential of taking focus away from the
real and genuine demands by the public sector workers."

The ANC said it accepted this apology.

Both parties agreed that a "balanced assessment" of the strike was
needed to avoid such occurrences in future.

The strike dragged on for about three weeks before being suspended while employees considered the government's latest offer.

The military had to be sent to help at hospitals, and in Gauteng in
particular, nurses abandoned babies. - Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-09-14-cosatu-anc-bury-the-hatchet

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