Who should have the mo­nop­oly on cap­i­tal?

CityPress - - Voices - Voices@city­press.co.za

We hear a lot these days about white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal (WMC), a phrase that con­fuses many peo­ple. Yet the strong­est pro­po­nents of the con­cept do not seem to be anti cap­i­tal. South Africa has opted for a cap­i­tal­ist eco­nomic sys­tem, and cap­i­tal­ism is about the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth.

It seems that the is­sue is not about the mo­nop­oly of cap­i­tal, but the white­ness of it.

To keep harp­ing on about WMC de­nies the ex­is­tence of a grow­ing band of black cap­i­tal own­ers. When is money that is cur­rently in the hands of black peo­ple (blacks, coloureds and In­di­ans) go­ing to be called black mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal (BMC)? And, is the cry against WMC ac­tu­ally a call for BMC?

To many op­po­nents of WMC, Trea­sury – which con­trols the in­flow and out­flow of money at na­tional, pro­vin­cial and lo­cal gov­ern­ment level – is part of WMC.

In­deed, money un­der the con­trol of of­fi­cials such as Ramaphosa, Mot­sepe, Maponya, Khoza, Gumede, Pa­tel, Kiviet and oth­ers – even trade unions – is still viewed by these peo­ple as WMC.

The Op­pen­heimers and Ru­perts of this coun­try ac­quired their wealth us­ing black peo­ple. The banks are cus­to­di­ans of bil­lions of rands be­long­ing to black peo­ple. I, to­gether with mil­lions of black peo­ple, am pay­ing value-added tax, as well as per­sonal and com­pany taxes. Are we min­imis­ing the con­tri­bu­tion of black peo­ple to this wealth if we still re­gard it as WMC?

It seems that this phrase is used to jus­tify the mis­man­age­ment, plun­der­ing, loot­ing and fruit­less ex­pen­di­ture in gov­ern­ment that the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral com­plains about year in and year out. Con­se­quently, those who loot these en­ti­ties, the ar­gu­ment goes, should not be pun­ished be­cause to call for their pros­e­cu­tion is to serve the in­ter­ests of WMC.

Those who in­sist that proper pro­ce­dures should be fol­lowed are viewed as pro­tect­ing WMC, and are even pun­ished.

An ex­am­ple of this is the re­cent case in the Labour Court, where two judg­ments were made against Labour Min­is­ter Mil­dred Oliphant for dis­miss­ing Jo­han Crouse as reg­is­trar of labour.

His of­fence? Try­ing to reg­u­late the Chem­i­cal, En­ergy, Pa­per, Print­ing, Wood and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, which had failed to pro­duce fi­nan­cial records for five years. We are talk­ing about bil­lions of rands’ worth of work­ers’ money, so it can­not be about WMC.

Another case in point oc­curred in 2014. It was amaz­ing to see for­mer friends and busi­ness part­ners Mar­cel Gold­ing and Johnny Cope­lyn – both union stal­warts – at log­ger­heads, af­ter hav­ing used R1 bil­lion of union funds as seed cap­i­tal to start e.tv. This was not WMC, but money from mainly black work­ers, who be­came im­pov­er­ished af­ter los­ing their jobs. So much for poverty al­le­vi­a­tion.

Many other sim­i­lar cases have been re­ported, with lit­tle re­course seen.

Money has no colour. So, I sug­gest we start us­ing the phrase “South African mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” (SAMC). Af­ter 20-plus years into our democ­racy, how is it that we still see white money? How long did it take for other for­mer colonised coun­tries to stop see­ing WMC? They may now de­fine their cap­i­tal as Korean or Ghana­ian mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, and so on.

In some coun­tries, there are harsh reper­cus­sions for steal­ing state re­sources. They guard these jeal­ously. There should be the same will and le­gal ac­tion taken to pro­tect SAMC. Those who ig­nore proper pro­ce­dures so they can loot must pay back the money.

Mr Pres­i­dent, for you to de­clare pub­licly – as you did last year – that you know who is steal­ing and will re­veal names at an op­por­tune time, is not good enough. You are our num­ber one cop. Get those thieves be­hind bars, where they be­long, now.

While we see and cry WMC at ev­ery turn, oth­ers are car­ry­ing SAMC away in card­board boxes and suit­cases out of Lanse­ria and OR Tambo air­ports, to be­come Dubai, Mum­bai, Lis­bon, Bei­jing and Lagos mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal.

Uhuru (the Swahili word for free­dom) dawned on us 23 years ago, when our doyen, Nel­son Man­dela, took the pres­i­den­tial oath to up­hold our pre­cious Con­sti­tu­tion. He en­tered into a sym­bolic con­tract with South Africans, as well as the global fam­ily of demo­cratic coun­tries and lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­vestors, that he and his suc­ces­sors would man­age the coun­try’s fis­cus ef­fi­ciently, with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Re­cent ser­vice de­liv­ery protests were not prompted by WMC, but by our fail­ure to de­liver proper ser­vices to pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties such as those in Soweto, Taung, Vuwani, Muyexe and Umh­labuyalin­gana.

I ap­peal to all of­fi­cials – from the pres­i­dent to min­is­ters, premiers, may­ors, league lead­ers, chief ex­ec­u­tives of state-owned en­ter­prises, pri­vate en­ti­ties and union bosses – to start talk­ing about SAMC.

WMC ex­ists in Aus­tralia, the UK, France, Spain and other coun­tries; we will not be able to lay our hands on it.

Let us pro­tect that which is ours and use it prop­erly for the good of ev­ery­one, not only the lucky few. Maybe then our builders may start to build proper houses and not shoddy ones, be­cause they will no longer re­gard them as be­ing part of WMC that must be stolen.

We need to re­spect and guard our SAMC, or the coun­try may be­come a lost cause. Rikhotso is a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner and a

con­cerned South African cit­i­zen

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