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(Updates with Malema’s comments from third paragraph.)
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s ruling party is debating how and not whether it should nationalize the country’s mines, said Julius Malema, leader of the ruling party’s Youth League.
The league argues that state ownership of mines became African National Congress policy when it adopted a document known as the Freedom Charter in 1955. Last year, the party initiated a study into the issue, saying it would be debated further at two conferences next year.
“The call of nationalization is what is required by the Freedom Charter,” Malema said in an interview on Johannesburg- based SAFM radio today. “Its interpretation is very clear. We need to nationalize. The research is not about nationalization. The ANC is looking at the best model of nationalization.”
South Africa has the world’s largest reserves of platinum, chrome ore and manganese. Citigroup Inc. has valued its total mineral resources at $2.5 trillion. Companies including Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd. and London-based Rio Tinto Group and Anglo American Plc have mines in the country.
Laws passed in 2004 that compel mining companies to sell 26 percent of their local assets to black South Africans by 2014 have done too little to transform the industry in the 17 years since the end of all-white rule, the Youth League argues.
“Those who are saying we are divisive are scared of what we are saying,” Malema said. “That is an attempt to silence a radical voice.”
The government and the ruling party have repeatedly said nationalization isn’t official policy.
The Youth League’s positions “remain those of the league and do not alter ANC policies being implemented at government level,” the ANC said in an e-mailed statement on June 20. “Pronouncements by the Youth League on such matters as the nationalization of mines and land redistribution, among others, form part of ongoing discussion.”
Venezuela, which took control of its oil reserves and used the revenue to provide services to its people, was one example of a country where nationalization had been successfully implemented, Malema said.
The youth leader said he has no ambition to become South Africa’s president.
Presidents “do not have time for themselves to concentrate on things that matter to them,” he said. “They have no personal lives.”
--Editors: Philip Sanders, Ben Holland
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