Malema wants Seacom, Eassy nationalised

Julius Malema

This was TechCentral’s April Fool’s Day article, published on 1 April 2010...

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema wants government to nationalise two private sector-led telecommunications cable initiatives.

The firebrand politician told supporters at a rally on Wednesday that the Seacom and East Africa Submarine System (Eassy) undersea cables should be acquired by the state.

Malema (pictured), who promised to raise the issue at the ANC’s next national executive committee meeting, said the idea of nationalising the submarine cables was discussed earlier this week when he met with representatives of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in Zimbabwe.

The youth league’s delegation to Zimbabwe, which included deputy secretary general Steven Ngobeni and national spokesman Floyd Shivambu, discussed which aspects of SA’s economy should be nationalised to “speed up the redistribution of wealth to the poor and the needy”.

Malema said the ANC Youth League had already identified the mining industry as a key target.

But he said the telecommunications sector was also of “critical national importance” and therefore could not be entrusted to “the imperialists who are robbing the poor”.

“The cables are too important for these people to have them,” he told hundreds of cheering supporters.

“We want the ANC in the conference in 2012 to pronounce what is the stand of the ANC on the nationalisation of these cables. We want decisive leadership, we don’t want cowards.”

Asked by journalists after the rally whether he’d want to retain any private-sector involvement in Eassy and Seacom, Malema said he only wanted to ensure government had majority control of the cable systems.

Private shareholders would be allowed to retain minority stakes, he said. They’d be allowed to continue “running the cables” on behalf of the government.

Zimbabwe’s youth development, indigenisation and economic empowerment minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, said he supported Malema’s call for the nationalisation of telecoms. “Zimbabwe has proved how nationalisation can work for our people,” he said.

Malema said the private sector had failed to provide telecoms services to ordinary South Africans and the only way to ensure telephones and broadband reached the poor was to give government the power to do this by taking over critical infrastructure like undersea cables.

“We have to control the cables,” he said, before issuing a warning: “We won’t stop there. Vodacom and MTN and Cell C, they must watch out. Their prices are too high.”

Malema said his plans wouldn’t scare away investors. “The private sector will still have 40%. They must ensure everything still runs smoothly. They must make sure standards are not compromised. We are going to do this in partnership with the private sector, but with us being the majority.”

He said the additional revenue government would earn from the nationalised companies would “build hospitals, give people electricity … the pace is very slow because there is no money. We are relying only on tax. Where can we get extra money?”

Even if Malema is successful in convincing the ANC that Eassy and Seacom should be nationalised, doing so could prove difficult.

Though Seacom is majority-owned by SA companies, including entities controlled by ANC-aligned businessmen Andile Ngcaba and Cyril Ramaphosa, it also has a significant foreign shareholder base; and telecoms operators from all over the world own the Eassy cable.

Together, the backers of Seacom and Eassy have invested about US$1bn in the cables. Seacom went live in 2009 and Eassy is expected to be ready for commercial service in the third quarter of 2010.

Asked to react to Malema’s comments, Seacom president Brian Herlihy said: “Is this a joke?”  — Staff reporter, TechCentral

Share this article

  • Shane

    More air for the air heads… come on juju, for once do your homework and research topics before you speak, only a stupid and ignorant people believe air, cause that’s what you talking. Is the ANC not embarrassed that juju speaks so much, but says nothing

  • http://translate.org.za/blogs/dwayne Dwayne Bailey

    I hope Saviour Kasukuwere wasn’t talking about Zim’s telco infrastructure, that’s not exactly a shining light for nationalisation.

  • http://www.iiit.co.za IIIT

    I call April Fools!

  • rasta

    The idea of empowerment sounds good but what these tuts fail to ask themselves is what are the advantages after gaining the power. Who is going to finance the transfer of shares…….

  • Tired and Bored of Julius

    There’s two issues I’d like to raise here:

    1. The only reason this idiot has the power and the reach he now commands – is because of the media. They run around pandying to his every word and movement. I think actually not that stupid – he probably knows this and uses it to his advantage. If the media left him alone – for just a month – he’d lose half his power.

    2. Although in (1) I mentioned that he’s fairly bright – that only extends to manipulating the media. Regarding anything else – My dog leaves packages in the grass that are more intelligent than him. Sure, let’s ‘give’ half of Seacom and Eassy to the government (I say give, because they wouldn’t be able to afford it). Then we’ll see it regulated through the ground so that in effect 64K of the bandwidth would cost R50000 a month. Hold that thought – let’s rather not.

    So, let’s all head to Julius’ mansion and have a download party – he probably has a 4MB Uncapped, unshaped DSL paid for from a government tender.

  • Matthew H

    Happy April Fool guys…and yes – he is a fool but this is a joke.

  • rational SA citizen

    Malema is an idiot… He calls for every “profitable, and actual working initiative to be nationalised so they can capitalise and benefit from it till it’s totally exhausted or falls flat on its face…

    No one should give this moron the time of day!

  • boastboy

    All I have to say… this has to be an April Fools day joke, mind you, Malema is an April Fool every day

  • http://astraltraveller.wordpress.com Craig

    Lovely April Fool’s joke!

    The somewhat scary thing though is that knowing Malema, these are exactly the kinds of things he would say, though I’m not sure he even knows what an undersea cable actually is.

    If this ever happened, I have a feeling that routers will suddenly go missing at the ends of the cables, leaving government with a fully laid yet unworking cable. Trying to purchase new routers always ends in a dead end as suppliers will never have replacements….

  • ILJ

    If this is not an April fool’s by Tech Central, then SURELY it is one by Malema – may be he does have a sense of humour?

  • http://woganmay.com/ Wogan

    April 1st, right? TechCentral really is the only site trumpeting this, and given the media’s recent infatuation with Malema, you’d expect to see more of it.

    ~ Wogan

  • Nick

    Telkom being owned by the government has done very little to redistribute wealth. How would nationalising Seacom, which has done more than Telkom has ever, help?

  • Gerdus

    April Fool! Malema is the court jester.

  • Simon

    April Fool. Let this be an April fool. Please.

  • MMETLI

    it is the 1st of April. Suspect that this ARTICLE IS A PRANCK

  • waveduke

    Aprils Fool – isn’t it?!

  • Larry Claasen

    It’s April 1 is it not. Nice one Duncan. Nice.

  • Bushpig

    All of you who have posted are in fact the (gullible) idiots. It’s 1 April folks. Nice one Duncan!

  • matt

    april fools

  • http://www.techcentral.co.za Editor

    The answer to Brian Herlihy’s question is, of course, yes. :-)

  • Nictron

    Please don’t give the guy April’s fool joke ideas!

    He would actually use it even though it has been government who is still inflating broadband and access pricing via Telkom!!!!!!!!

  • Siya

    Nice April fool’s joke – create one about everbody’s favorite fool.

  • Jax

    April Fools u Fools they haven’t gone to Zim yet

  • http://translate.org.za/blogs/dwayne Dwayne Bailey

    My gosh I really shouldn’t work really really late on the 31 March. Nice one ;)

  • Mashudu

    if its not april’s fool, it just shows how little does mr julias know about the telecoms industry.That we just fully liberilised less than two years back and wanted to open market to competition and enable access to affordable service ,especially broadband.
    How is nationalising going to achieve that ,if it failed with telkom.

  • http://www.aonprocurement.co.za Khumbulani

    nice April Fools Joke Duncan!

  • Greg

    I think it’s a great idea. I for one support our future president 100%.

Why TechCentral?

We know that as a prospective advertiser, you are spoilt for choice. Our job is to demonstrate why TechCentral delivers the best return for your advertising spend.

TechCentral is South Africa’s online technology news leader. We don’t say that lightly. We believe we produce the country’s best and most insightful online tech news aimed at industry professionals and those interested in the fast-changing world of technology.

We provide news, reviews and comment, without fear or favour, that is of direct relevance to our fast-expanding audience. Proportionately, we provide the largest local audience of all technology-focused online publishers.

We do not constantly regurgitate press releases to draw in search engine traffic — we believe websites that do so are doing their readers and advertisers a disservice. Nor do we sell “editorial features”, offer advertising “press offices” or rely on online bulletin-board forums of questionable value to advertisers to bolster our traffic.

TechCentral, which is edited and written by award-winning South African journalists, cares about delivering top-quality content to draw in the business and consumer readers that are of most interest to technology advertisers.

We’d like the opportunity to demonstrate the value of directing a portion of your advertising budget to TechCentral, whether your company is in the technology field or not. Numerous opportunities exist for companies interested in reaching our audience of key decision-makers in South Africa’s dynamic information and communications technology sector. We offer packages that will deliver among the best returns on investment available in the online technology news space.

For more information about advertising opportunities, and how your organisation can benefit by publicising itself on TechCentral, please call us on 011-792-0449 during office hours. Or send us an e-mail and ask for our latest rate card and brochure.