I am back from my travels where I spent much time discussing the ANC Youth League’s “nationalisation of mines” call with investors.

The long and the short of my views are that I don’t think the ANC will decide to nationalise the mines at its December 2012 elective conference in Mangaung. I do, however, think the ANC will attempt to use the populist surge to beat a better deal out of the miners (in terms of the companies’  social obligations, obligations to contribute to infrastructure development as well as the likely imposition as a special tax on windfall profits.)

However I also think that markets will remain anxious about nationalisation and will tend to counter-track the rise and fall of Malema’s personal fortunes.

With this in mind I think the Youth League and its President are in a degree of trouble.

Monday morning  one time radio show host, sometime actor and columnist Eric Miyeni was published in the Sowetan saying of Ferial Haffejee, editor of City Press:

Who the devil is she anyway if not a black snake in the grass, deployed by white capital to sow discord among blacks? In the 80s she’d probably have had a burning tyre around her neck.

That evening ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu sent out a statement that read:

The ANC Youth League agrees with Eric Miyeni’s column … He should continue to be an honest, fearless activist who speaks his mind and not fall into the trap of those who blindly support interests of apartheid beneficiaries.

On Sunday Julius Malema accused President Ian Khama of Botswana of being “a foot stool of imperialism, a security threat to Africa and always under constant puppetry of the United States” and further that the “ANC Youth League will also establish a Botswana command team, which will work towards uniting all oppositional forces in Botswana to oppose the puppet regime”.

On Tuesday Jackson Mthembu, ANC spokesman, said:

The ANC would like to totally reject and publicly rebuke the ANCYL on its extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements on ‘regime change’ in Botswana … This insult and disrespect to the President (Honourable Ian Khama), the government and the people of Botswana and a threat to destabilize and effect regime change in Botswana is a clear demonstration that the ANCYL’s ill discipline has clearly crossed the political line.

Surely we are into injury time by now – even the jellyfish Zuma leadership must have reached the end of its tolerance?

Two weeks ago previous key backer Tokyo Sexwale described Malema as a “loud-mouth young man”. Even Malema’s long term defender Mathews Phosa appeared to agree that the nationalisation debate had been handled badly and that the ANC had “dropped the ball” with regard to reconciliation and nation building.

Does this not leave Julius defended by only his organisation and a few wannabe intellectuals of the Miyeni stripe ?

Malema does not head an army of disenfranchised, unemployed and angry black youth. He has courted this crucial fraction of our society – usually as a deployed voice of the ANC itself – but in reality he lives a life of the überflash, so far removed from the unemployed and disenfranchised that his claims to the contrary smack of the worst and most dangerous forms of manipulative populism.

The point?

Markets should interpret what is happening as serious headwinds for the “Malema agenda” and that means much of the sound and fury will be removed from the nationalisation debate … a good thing for our politics and our economy.

Advertisements