“DEMOCRACY must accommodate African culture, otherwise it is not democracy.” There was something surreal about that disingenuous gaffe about press freedom by Department of Labour director-general Jimmy Manyi. Is South Africa a country of black corporate hustlers celebrating their arcane deals in backroom confabs? Or is it a country of deeply impoverished people for whom press freedom means the right to expose the perfidious underbelly of the “new” African culture: munificent directorships, “Tuscan” homes in golf and country estates and the fawning of white technocrats in thrall to capitalism’s latest super cult?
What may seem tempting to a class of poor people – Manyi’s reckless call for radical land reform and a bigger presence of black managers in corporate boardrooms and now restrictions on the press – has a psychological expiry date: it’s already unravelling as nothing more than an ideological barrage (under the cover of culture) for a patronage economy in which a black elite flourishes.
Remember, this is a man who mouths off from the exalted position of senior executive at Tiger Brands, a company only recently implicated in the worst crime against the poor: fixing the bread price.