CAPE TOWN, March 7– Legislators from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) have slammed accusations by the South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), that it is processing a Bill to effectively legalise nationalisation of the oil and gas industries.
The DA claims that last-minute changes to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Bill will allow the government to buy up to 100 per cent of any oil and gas operation if it so wishes. It is a battle of wills as the ANC and DA square up to each other in the Parliamentary Committee on Mineral Resources.
“Up until now, the Bill has been discussed on the basis that 20 per cent of any oil and gas operation can be taken by the State as free carried interest and of top of that there was a stipulation that up to 30 per cent more could be bought by the State at a fair market price,” said the DA’s James Lorimer.
“What was introduced was that the 30 per cent ceiling was lifted which implies that the State could actually take over the other 80 per cent of any oil and gas drilling operation, which is effectively nationalisation.”
The ANC however refutes the DA’s allegations. “All we are saying is that the State may participate in the rest of the percentage which at this stage we haven’t stipulated, but the 100 per cent I think is a misunderstanding of that clause,” said Committee Chairperson Faith Bikani.
Instead, the ANC says the bill would place greater responsibilities on mining and related companies to take localised beneficiation a lot more seriously.
“…the bottom line is that there were historically disadvantaged South Africans who couldn’t benefit correctly. Beneficiation is its process of transforming mining seeks to correct that. There’s no way that we cannot beneficiate within the country to try and improve our own people’s lives,” explained Bikani.
The Mineral Resources Department as well as industry role-players have refused to comment on the Bill while deliberations on it are underway.