Chris Ma­likane, Gi­gaba’s con­tro­ver­sial new ad­viser, tells Han­lie Retief that he is not Finance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s bat­ter­ing ram that knocks down or­tho­dox econ­o­mists in Trea­sury

CityPress - - Business -

Gi­gaba ap­pointed you with the full knowledge that you want banks, mines and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies to be na­tion­alised. Now he is dis­tanc­ing him­self from that...

Yes, ev­ery­one knows ex­actly what I stand for. The me­dia pre­tends I’m this new guy, but I was in­volved with Cosatu. Peo­ple know me. My opin­ions are part of a broader de­bate. There are also peo­ple in the ANC who ar­gue that state in­sti­tu­tions should be pri­va­tised.

Gi­gaba said he has ‘reined you in’, that you must be quiet...

No, no, no, no. Peo­ple’s in­fer­ence of what the min­is­ter said is wrong. There is no way the min­is­ter can tell a fel­low South African to keep his mouth shut. I am an aca­demic, I work with ideas. I have to chal­lenge pub­lic opin­ions that mis­lead the na­tion. When the min­is­ter said he reined me in, he meant we should no longer fo­cus on talk­ing, but on do­ing – ac­tion that will trans­form the econ­omy.

How do you and Gi­gaba dif­fer?

He did not say there would be na­tion­al­i­sa­tion. He said there should be com­pet­ing schools of thought, so that we can get the best from ev­ery­thing there is.

Is that not just Gi­gaba at­tempt­ing to try to calm over­seas in­vestors?

In­vestors have to be as­sured that South Africa is a des­ti­na­tion for in­vest­ment. The Cab­i­net reshuf­fle shouldn’t lead to peo­ple hav­ing doubts. The ANC’s fi­nan­cial pol­icy is still the same. We are on course.

The DA’s David Maynier said it sounds as if you were ed­u­cated in the Hugo Chávez school of eco­nomics?

Yes, just lis­ten to that! He­len Zille comes back from Sin­ga­pore full of praises, but Sin­ga­pore has a state bank. But if I talk about a state bank in South Africa, they blow me out of the wa­ter. Maynier is not ad­vanc­ing the de­bate, he must come with facts. To merely paint peo­ple as Marx­ist or com­mu­nist – that hasn’t worked for a long time.

What do you think of Venezuela’s na­tion­al­i­sa­tion ex­per­i­ment?

I think we could have done it bet­ter. Venezuela’s econ­omy is not di­ver­si­fied enough, if the oil price drops the econ­omy is ex­posed. Even be­fore Chávez, deep in­equal­ity threat­ened to tear the po­lit­i­cal fabric apart. The coun­try was on the road to civil war and rad­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion in pol­icy was nec­es­sary. So, the lev­els of in­equal­ity in South Africa, the historical griev­ances and the fury should not be dis­missed.

A civil war can eas­ily break out here as well – let’s not have any il­lu­sions about that. If that means the state has to get in­volved in a certain area of the econ­omy to help lift peo­ple out of poverty, we should not hes­i­tate to say that to in­vestors.

Are you Gi­gaba’s new bat­ter­ing ram – as Maynier calls you – to take on or­tho­dox econ­o­mists within Trea­sury?

I don’t take that se­ri­ously. He fails to in­ter­act with me in a de­cent, in­tel­lec­tual way, I don’t take him se­ri­ously.

You write that it is now our op­por­tu­nity to com­plete the rev­o­lu­tion – with the ex­pro­pri­a­tion of land with­out com­pen­sa­tion to own­ers?

All land in South Africa be­longs to all South Africans. The land must be re­leased and shared with those who work the land.

And all state and mu­nic­i­pal land?

Ex­actly, ex­actly. The state must re­lease land, not nec­es­sar­ily in re­spect of own­er­ship, but in terms of use. It can in­crease the tax base by col­lect­ing rent, rather than the state sit­ting on so much un­used land. I’m ask­ing for true, demo­cratic land use. If you drive around South Africa and you see a moun­tain, you have to be able to iden­tify with it as your own, it shouldn’t feel “for­eign”. It’s a nat­u­ral resource, it be­longs to all of us.

And if you paid for that moun­tain and the trans­fer costs and all?

We don’t have a prob­lem with that. Our prob­lem is: you can’t buy stolen goods. Certain legs of the econ­omy such as land own­er­ship should not be in pri­vate hands. The agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties on the land may well be pri­vately man­aged. I’m not saying the state should take the trac­tors and things. Farm­ing op­er­a­tions should not be dis­rupted and farms cut up into small pieces – that does not make eco­nomic sense. We are talk­ing about un­used land that is owned by the state.

The re­lease of land wasn’t re­ally a pri­or­ity in the past 24 years...

Yes, and we must criticise that. The ANC be­lieves in fun­da­men­tal changes in own­er­ship and con­trol of the econ­omy, in the struc­tures and in­sti­tu­tions, that’s what it is.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma says only 3% of the shares on the JSE are owned by black South Africans. Do you agree?

There will have to be fun­da­men­tal shifts in own­er­ship and con­trol. We know why black peo­ple don’t have own­er­ship, let’s not mince our words, it’s for historical rea­sons: apartheid, colo­nial­ism and so on.

And the state pen­sion fund in which ev­ery­one has in­di­rect own­er­ship on the JSE?

No, even un­der apartheid, black peo­ple had pen­sion funds, but no­body said you can’t strug­gle against apartheid be­cause you have pen­sion funds, that’s not an ar­gu­ment.

You said the coun­try has be­come a bat­tle­ground for cap­i­tal­ist groups. Why?

Ev­ery­one wants a piece of this coun­try. Peo­ple come here and take our min­er­als, use our nat­u­ral re­sources.

South Africans can’t just stand by and watch, there is go­ing to be a civil war here. Wars aren’t started by or­di­nary peo­ple, but by elites who are fight­ing over re­sources. We need to wake up.

Do you know the Gup­tas?

No. This is like ask­ing me if I know An­ton Ru­pert. I’m just an aca­demic, I work with unions, pro­gres­sive youth move­ments and black in­tel­lec­tu­als.

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