According to the "now you see it, now you don't" document soon to be publicly released by the ANC, South Africa "cannot afford to nationalize the mines" since the state doesn't have the required trillion. And in terms of intercountry agreements with the likes of the UK, we have to pay - we cannot just confiscate. Interesting also that this conclusion is premised on work by Gavin Keeton, an economist at Rhodes University who worked a long time at Anglo American.
So perhaps they won't be nationalised, but will be taxed more sharply - and the proceeds put into a sovereign wealth fund (SWF), which could be used for long term investment in building a better life for all. The mooted level for a "supertax" on profits, taking say half the excess at a level of profit greater than 15% (long bond plus seven) is still in gestation - would that apply to profit as a function of assets (ROA), of equity (ROE), or of price (EY). And what would be the focus and process of the SWF - another Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) or Public Investment Commision (PIC) in the making?
If we strip the entire debate to its naked essentials, surely its this -
Do we have a mineral inheritance? And can we mobilise its value and deploy it in the national interest?
I will answer the first question second, and for the second, will repeat my mantra that we NEED TO INVEST IN EDUCATION. By which I don't mean in university graduates, or in sliding more and more teenagers over a low and slippery matric bar. We need to educate our people in self-reliance and self-belief, and in the capacity to do TASKS and TRADES. We really ought to undo the crazy closures of teachers training colleges. And we NEED TO SET HIRERS FREE - so hiring of willing workers can normailise the job market. (Hint - small entities are better at hiring, and big corporates are better at at firing). Don't invite CEOs of jobless growth corporations, even if they are huge and "important", to jobs thinktanks. Its like inviting crop sprayers to an insect jamboree - the DNA is just plain wrong!
As to the second - do we have a mineral inheritance?
Picture time below - see how li'l old SA has about 5% of the planet's mineral wealth. (But we produce about 0.5% of GDP.)
We sit at 9th on this chart from BP and the New Scientist (which I sourced via Niall Ferguson) . And we dominate with a select hand - platinum/PGMs, nickel, gold still, coal and chromium. Our diamonds have mostly gone, and gold too is very much over for us, so what can we do while we still have a decent hand in the game?