South Africa's mines 'will never be nationalised'

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Media captionSouth Africa's Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe: "There's a property clause in the constitution which must be respected"

South Africa's governing African National Congress has totally ruled out nationalisation of the mines, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe says.

"It is not going to happen," he told the BBC - while expressing hope that the political life of its loudest champion, Julius Malema, was not over.

Mr Malema was expelled from the ANC last week for bringing the party into disrepute and sowing division.

The ANC Youth League, which he headed, has said he is going to appeal.

"The ANC Youth League will never agree that its leadership be subjected to unfair and unjust treatment or banished for narrow political purposes," a statement read at a press conference by the youth league's deputy president, Ronald Lamola, said.

Once a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Malema, 30, is now one of his strongest critics - saying that the president is ignoring the poor people who ensured he rose to power in 2009.

'Time for reflection'

Mr Motlanthe, who is also the ANC's second-in-command, made clear that the party would not pursue - now or in the future - a policy to nationalise the country's mines.

This follows a report last month that concluded nationalisation was not a good option for South Africa.

The ANC's Youth League - which has a history of pushing for radical policies within ANC - does advocate state ownership.

Mr Malema says he is being persecuted for standing by that position, and saying President Zuma should be replaced as the ANC leader.

But correspondents say Mr Malema's combative, populist style has angered many in the party.

The deputy president said it was not up to him to comment on whether Mr Malema would play a leadership role if he makes a political comeback.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Julius Malema has long advocated a programme of nationalisation

But he said he hoped that Mr Malema would "grow into a better person" as "any setback also offers time for reflection".

"They say that a boxer who has no experience of being knocked down may not be a good challenger," Mr Motlanthe said, reacting for the first time to Mr Malema's expulsion in an interview with the BBC's Milton Nkosi.

"Because the day he gets knocked down the surprise of it may mean he doesn't know how to rise," he said.

"I hope he takes it [the expulsion] in that spirit."

Unemployment in South Africa stands at about 40% and is much higher among young people.

The country, which saw the end of white minority rule in 1994, is the world's biggest platinum producer and a major gold and diamond producer.

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