South Africa

Zuma wants to nationalise land and mines in South Africa

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma’s newly formed party vowed to nationalise land and banks, withdraw from the International Criminal Court and expand the social security net in its campaign manifesto released before the 29 May elections.

Opinion polls show the Umkhonto WeSizwe Party cannibalising support from the ruling African National Congress, of which Zuma remains a member.

They also show the ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, may lose its majority for the first time.

The MKP’s plans are similar to those of the nation’s third biggest party, the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF’s leader, Julius Malema, has indicated that it would be open to aligning with the MKP to form a left-leaning bloc.

Zuma, who led South Africa for nine years marred by scandal, including allegations of large-scale corruption and the looting of billions of dollars of government funds, is popular in KwaZulu-Natal, the second-most populous province.

He’s denied wrongdoing and hasn’t been indicted on the accusations.

Zuma has also drawn crowds to rallies in Gauteng, which has the highest number of registered voters. 

Coalition partners

Over the weekend, Zuma said he was open to working with like-minded parties in a WhatsApp voice note, in which he apologized for not attending two rallies in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal in which thousands came to see him.

“If we have any differences, it is fine but not on the fundamentals of this country and changing the lives of black people for the better,” Zuma said in the 10-minute recording.

“Even if we vote differently for now, after the election, we must get together and talk, including those who are not yet sold on the vision and those we have not yet been able to approach; they must know that they must come back so we can work together so we can shape this country.” 

Like the EFF, the MKP is also advocating for the nationalisation of the central bank and the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund. 

“The narrow mandate of the partially foreign-owned South African Reserve Bank is not supportive of economic diversification and industrial growth,” the manifesto said.

Where the two parties differ is on the scale of nationalisation. MKP wants to nationalize all major lenders and mines, Malema has said that state-owned banks, mines and schools would compete with those operated by the private sector. 

The MKP will also withdraw from a pact to move away from coal as the primary source of the country’s energy, saying it will renew the existing fleet of coal-fired power stations and accelerate a nuclear program.

Other plans in the MKP’s manifesto include:

  • Hold a referendum to scrap the constitution and replace it with a parliamentary system.
  • Nationalise strategic mines, ArcelorMittal South Africa and Sasol.
  • Force major South African companies to relist on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
  • Withdraw South Africa from the ‘weaponised’ International Criminal Court. Zuma proposed leaving the ICC in 2016, though that plan was later abandoned after he left office.
  • Introduce a basic income grant above R1,558 for the unemployed.
  • Increase the old-age pension grant to at least R4,500 a month from more than R2,000 currently.

South Africa’s election will take place on 29 May 2024.


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