South Africa youth leader targets mines in new film

Wed Jun 8, 2011 5:51am EDT
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By Ed Stoddard and Yumna Mohamed

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters Life!) - Influential South African ANC youth leader Julius Malema says in a new documentary that the country's mines must be nationalized to return mineral wealth to the black majority that was stolen by white colonists. Malema, head of the African National Congress's Youth League, is one of the best-known politicians in the country and his comments in the documentary may further unnerve investors in the key mining sector and fuel debate on the issue.

The film, "Mining for Change: A Story of South African Mining," debuted in March and is currently making the rounds at the Encounters South African International Documentary Film Festival in Johannesburg and Cape Town, which runs June 9 to 26.

It previously screened at the PanAfrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou.

Among other things, Malema says overseas mining companies simply don't care about poor mining communities in South Africa.

"They are in London ... They are playing God. The only thing they want to check is an update on bank balance. How the markets look like," he says.

Malema's comments are peppered throughout the film with interviews with other big South African personalities such as former trade unionist turned tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa and Nicky Oppenheimer, chairman of diamond giant De Beers.

The latter says he has "no problem" with the nationalization debate but thinks it has been settled. That may be wishful thinking and Malema -- who has also called for mass land seizures -- makes his case in his typically colorful way, explaining why nationalization should proceed without compensation by comparing South Africa's mineral wealth to a stolen car.

"We are not going to buy what has been stolen from us. It's like when a person steals my car and I report it to police. They find this car ... with new mag wheels and leather seat and you know, it's now looking very nice," he says.   Continued...