Nationalisation: What Mathews Phosa said in London

Text of the ANC TG's address to a briefing hosted by Lonmin PLC, October 29 2009


Let me first thank you for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.

It has been fifteen years since all South Africans voted for the first time and we are proud of our achievements during this short period of democracy.

Our model of democracy has been praised worldwide and some of the architects of our political miracle are in demand around the globe to assist with negotiations in the hotspots of the world.

Former Presidents Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk won the Nobel Peace Prize for their own efforts in ensuring that South Africans are now united and can look towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.

During this post-democracy period we have had four Presidents and, like you, we have had the head of government retire during tenure. We are, in fact, following the example of Europe in becoming a normal democracy.

During this period of fifteen years we have successfully played host to the Rugby World Cup, the Cricket World Cup and recently successfully and seamlessly stood in for India as the host of the IPL Cricket League.

These successful efforts will be followed next year by the hosting of the Soccer World Cup. In preparing for such a major event there is a massive effort under way to substantially improve our infrastructure and to build a number of new stadiums.

In addition to these efforts we have continued to play a leadership role in the Southern African region and on the African continent. The fact that we were able, through visionary leadership, to move our country to a stable democracy, also meant that we are viewed as a trusted partner by many countries across the globe.

As we stand here today Britain is South Africa's second largest trade partner after China.

It is, however, a partner that we have trusted and valued over the centuries and one that has stood by us during both good and bad times.

It is a partnership and relationship that we wish to continue and expand at all times. This point was made by our President when he visited your Prime Minister in April last year and repeated recently when he met with your High Commissioner to accept her credentials as your countries representative in South Africa.

It is one of the major reasons that I am here today as the Treasurer General of the African National Congress. I also convey the wishes of our party's leadership as well as that of the President to strengthen and deepen our commercial relationship.

In that regard, you have been a mining partner of ours for a very long time. Your recent substantial investments by Barclays into our local bank, ABSA, as well as Vodafone into our own Vodacom critically enhanced that preferred partner relationship between us.

It is my fervent hope that my visit can, in time, unlock further opportunities for both British and South African investors.

I am told that I can now go and drink coffee here at the South African coffee shop Vida e Caffe and have lunch at our restaurant group, Spur.

Financial services groups such as Old Mutual, Investec and Standard Bank utilize London as a springboard to identify opportunities in Europe.

It is my fervent hope that even more British companies will utilize our major cities as a similar springboard to broaden your business activities into Southern Africa and the African continent.

On a political level, we believe that we have been a sound and trusted partner for our friends in multi-lateral forums such as SADC, the African Union, the G20 and the United Nations. We will continue to utilize those forums to work for the advancement of the agenda of political and commercial partnerships that will further enhance our agenda of South and Southern Africa as a favoured developmental, political and commercial partner.

In the challenging global economic environment in which Jacob Zuma became the fourth President of the Republic of South Africa at the end of April this year, he inherited the following:

  • A strong governing party with a clear and decisive majority at the polls.
  • A region dominated by the instability in Zimbabwe where the Zanu PF/MDC alliance is a cause for concern, amongst many other concerns.
  • A continent where the final form and format of the African Union is still being debated.
  • A country where crime and corruption is at unacceptable levels and an issue of concern for our British, European and global partners. In this regard, we will and must move away from a culture of greed and self enrichment to one of transparent accountability. We should also consider additional legal measures, one of them being the potential appointment of a Corruption Commissioner with wide ranging legal powers.
  • A country where we have no other choice but to focus a large amount of energy on addressing decades of old backlogs in education, health and housing. In the mini budget delivered by our Minister of Finance on Tuesday, he announced an additional package of almost R1 billion for HIV/AIDS as well as substantial increase in spending in housing and education through a number of initiatives, inclusive of infrastructure creation. We hope to create more than 4 million jobs in the next three years.

In addition, there is a view that, because of the above, the South African government will incrementally move its economic policies to the left of centre and thereby cause concern amongst some of its partners.

You can expect the following from the ANC government, headed by President Zuma:

  • That Mr Zuma, as President, will move swiftly to restore the legacy of reconciliation and nation building, bequeathed to him by Mr Mandela. South Africa will operate as a team from a non-racial, non-sexist basis.
  • That we will work tirelessly to find democratic solutions to enhance a political settlement in Zimbabwe.
  • That we will work very hard towards defining our role on the continent in such a way that we act as leaders, but also enhance unity and solidarity on the continent.
  • That we will launch a massive effort to enhance stability ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, but at the same time finding the right mix of socio-economic measures that will combat poverty and unemployment, issues that are at the root of crime. One of the announcements in Tuesday's mini budget was that we will put more than 22,000 new policemen on the street and that a massive spending programme will be launched to improve security in our country over the next three years.

I know that you are concerned about the noise that you have been hearing around the issue of the nationalization of mines in South Africa. I understand that you regard this as a very serious issue, and I want to reassure you that we will manage it, keeping your substantial and historical interests in mind.

Given our democratic nature as a party, the ANC has no choice but to allow its' structures to voice their opinions about this matter. It is the open and transparent way that we conduct our business and we will continue to do so.

Nationalization of the mines is, however, not the policy of the ANC, nor that of the ANC led government.

We will, however, explore ways and means of broadening this debate and finding creative long term solutions to the serious issue of the broader distribution of wealth in a responsible fashion. It is not a debate in isolation, and your serious and blunt views about the issue will be welcomed.

You are also concerned about repeated views that have been expressed regarding the possibility that the ANC led government will start a move towards economic policies that are investor unfriendly and less responsible than our current fiscal and monetary policies. I am confident that Tuesday's mini budget made a contribution towards dispelling those views over time. Our budget policies will continue those that we developed over time, target inflation, encourage counter cyclical investments and relax export regulations.

The signs are that we will move out of the recession in the fourth quarter of this year, start growing by just over 1% next year and move towards a growth of 3.2% in 2012.

We are flattered by the investment into our financial services industry by Britain and China. Other investments are being discussed into this sector, a sector that has been praised globally for its strength under the onslaught of the global crisis.

Similarly, we have been strengthened by your support of our conservative and sound fiscal and monetary policies.

Whilst mindful of our responsibility to broaden our services to our voters at speed, we are also mindful of the need of a constant and increased inflow of foreign direct investment as well the development of profitable joint ventures. It is simply not in our interest to deviate from that path.

I am here as an elected representative of the ANC leadership to seek lasting commercial partnerships that will benefit the United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa and Southern Africa.

Hopefully our interactions here this evening will contribute towards creating more opportunities for entrepreneurs on both sides.

In closing, I want to thank Lonmin for their sponsorship of this event. Their sponsorship of this event shows their deep understanding for the support of forums where we can engage business leaders in global financial centers such as London.

The co-convenors of the Progressive Business Forum, Renier Schoeman and Daryl Swanepoel, will engage with you regarding further events next year where members of the ANC leadership as well as government ministers will engage with you here on issues that define our commercial and other relationships.

We sincerely appreciate Lonmin's sponsorship of this event as well as your attendance here.

I thank you.

Source: African National Congress

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