Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema scores well in meeting leadership criteria. Picture: SOWETAN
Picture: SOWETAN

THE Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is not proposing the shutdown of "private capital" but is pushing for a "mixed economy", with the state taking the lead, EFF leader Julius Malema said on Friday.

Mr Malema faced off with scenario planner Clem Sunter during a debate in Cape Town on the future of SA’s economy. The debate, dubbed the "Rumble in the Urban Jungle", was organised by the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"We are not proposing the shutdown of private capital ... we want a mixed economy with the state being the leader," said Mr Malema during the emotionally charged debate that was attended by a large number of business leaders at a Cape Town hotel.

He touched on the controversial issue of land redistribution, saying nothing could be achieved before land was expropriated without compensation.

"We will never address racial division if we do not address the fact that (land) ownership is racially divided," the EFF leader said, adding: "We want our dignity back. Eighty per cent of land is owned by white people, yet 80% of the people in this country are black ... without the land we are nothing."

The nationalisation of land, mines and banks has been front and centre of EFF policies. As a policy statement, the nationalisation of banks is more centred on the creation of a state-owned bank, to provide affordable loans, than on targeting the existing big banks.

Mr Malema said last year that when his party spoke of nationalising SA’s mines, it meant the state would own 60% of the operation. He has also said such a move would not scare off investors, as some of the mining companies that operated in South Africa have already willingly ceded 51% ownership to the Botswana government.

 

During Friday’s debate, Mr Malema said it would be only through state intervention and control of strategic sectors that real change could be brought about. However, he said that under EFF rule, land redistribution would be done in a peaceful manner.

"We do not want a Zimbabwe here. It (land redistribution) has to be done legally in a way that will not compromise the economy ... all of us need to surrender our land to the state."

Mr Malema was heckled by some as he talked about the land issue. One woman in the crowd shouted: "Mr Malema, you have no authority to talk about land. The Khoisan is the only authoritative voice which can talk about land... we lived here and you, your ancestors, and the white ancestors found us here. Only we can talk about land ownership,” she said amid cheers.

Mr Malema responded by saying the woman was "missing the point". He said black Africans and the Khoisan were one. "I'm not from Europe ...my ancestors are not from Europe. Africa belongs to Africans and that is what the Khoisan are."

Mr Malema said he did not mind being heckled. "I express myself anywhere ... without any fear. I am here to articulate EFF policy whether you like it or not."

Mr Sunter mainly talked about entrepreneurship, arguing that focusing on growing small businesses would help the country realise its full potential.

"We haven’t structured our economy in a way that encourages entrepreneurs ... We have to think of ways of opening up our economy," he said. "That is why I have been calling for an economic Codesa."

He agreed with Mr Malema that "economic apartheid" still prevailed in SA. "If we are talking about economic freedom and creating 5-million jobs, you will have to first create 1-million small businesses," said Mr Sunter.

A solution to deal with the country's economic problems needed to be found by balancing ownership on one hand and creating an environment to create entrepreneurs.

Mr Sunter said some of the major issues the country needed to deal with included corruption and the roll-out of infrastructure. He said there were “pockets of excellence” in the country, but the challenge was to replicate these elsewhere and making sure small businesses were able to prosper.