Be­ware the bid­ders’ wolves in sheep skins

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE - Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko is the min­is­ter of po­lice and a for­mer trade union­ist

IN­CREAS­INGLY, South Africans are con­fronted with a sin­is­ter yet per­va­sive agenda by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of big global and lo­cal cap­i­tal bent on po­si­tion­ing them­selves as the le­git­i­mate voice for sus­tain­able demo­cratic change.

De­spite their sup­pos­edly wise and sound lan­guage, these wolves in sheep skins are es­sen­tially do­ing the bid­ding for their han­dlers in Europe and North Amer­ica.

These self-ap­pointed guardians of our democ­racy be­lieve that our peo­ple will be so bam­boo­zled as to glee­fully wel­come them as the myth­i­cal mes­si­ahs they have long been wait­ing for.

Colo­nial­ism did not just strip Africans of po­lit­i­cal rights. It dis­pos­sessed them of their land, de­stroyed their eco­nomic sys­tems, trod on their hu­man dig­nity and turned them into beg­gars in their moth­er­land.

The fight by the ma­jor­ity of black peo­ple to share in the coun­try’s wealth is a just de­mand and must never be aban­doned. Of course, a step in that di­rec­tion at­tracts the full and fe­ro­cious wrath of those who ben­e­fited and con­tinue to ben­e­fit from the black per­son’s poor eco­nomic and prop­erty-less sta­tus.

At 105, the ANC has to pro­vide lead­er­ship and of­fer a thor­ough­go­ing cri­tique of how, in times such as ours, cap­i­tal is fond of danc­ing with democ­racy as if by so do­ing it will dis­own its in­trin­sic im­per­a­tives and em­brace the in­ter­ests of the most op­pressed and eco­nom­i­cally ex­ploited classes in our so­ci­ety.

As pro­gres­sive forces in our so­ci­ety in­ten­sify so­cial trans­for­ma­tion, the murky politics of the mo­ment re­quire ide­o­log­i­cal clar­ity and ar­tic­u­la­tion.

Since the night­mare and the ghost of colo­nial­ism and apartheid con­tinue to torment us, the au­dac­ity of big global and lo­cal cap­i­tal to cap­ture the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion is de­spi­ca­ble. Even the litany of in­sults and pro­pa­gan­dis­tic tirades that have been punted as pro­gres­sive dis­course have be­come less sur­pris­ing.

What per­haps may be sur­pris­ing is the paucity of pro­gres­sive po­lit­i­cal and in­tel­lec­tual thought in the mass me­dia and other plat­forms bold and prin­ci­pled enough to ex­pose the big lie and its plethora of poi­sonous slo­gans. It is un­clear as to why.

For those of us who don’t suf­fer from se­lec­tive am­ne­sia, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to re­turn to our re­cent his­tory. We refuse to for­get that when South Africa was pro­claimed an “in­de­pen­dent” white do­min­ion in the Bri­tish Em­pire on May 31, 1910, Bri­tain and her cap­i­tal­ist back­ers were es­sen­tially be­tray­ing the op­pressed African masses of our land. In the word of the em­i­nent scholar Ben Magubane: “The for­ma­tion of the ANC in 1912 was an African re­sponse to one of the most un­con­scionable po­lit­i­cal be­tray­als of a peo­ple by a colo­nial power that prided it­self as a paragon of virtue and mother of par­lia­men­tary democ­racy.”

Since the grad­ual and vi­o­lent dis­so­lu­tion of the African com­mu­nal so­ci­eties and the plun­der of their col­lec­tively owned lands from 1652 on­wards, sub­se­quent strug­gles against colo­nial­ism and apartheid strength­ened and sharp­ened our peo­ple’s re­solve to fight back. It is that war­rior spirit that we must guard jeal­ously and de­fend to the bit­ter end. We can­not af­ford to rest on our lau­rels but must be more vig­i­lant to fight what schol­ars Michael Hardt and An­to­nio Ne­gri term im­pe­ri­al­ism’s “new strate­gies of rule”.

It is in­deed ap­pro­pri­ate on an on­go­ing ba­sis to re­view our progress in the cre­ation of a united, non-racial, non-sex­ist, demo­cratic and prosperous South Africa. As his­tory un­folds, var­ied ma­te­rial and ide­o­log­i­cal fac­tors pose chal­lenges to the agenda of re­al­is­ing mean­ing­ful demo­cratic trans­for­ma­tion; non-sex­ism, non-racism, shared pros­per­ity and deep­rooted so­cial jus­tice. With in­ter­na­tional cap­i­tal on an even big­ger of­fen­sive to win the hearts and minds of our peo­ple, the so-called dis­tri­bu­tional im­pact of eco­nomic growth re­quires a ro­bust cri­tique.

It can no longer be ac­cept­able that only mod­els im­posed on us in the de­vel­op­ing world by the global North should de­ter­mine our so­cio-eco­nomic tra­jec­tory. As it has been proved that not all eco­nomic growth au­to­mat­i­cally leads to poverty re­duc­tion and a bet­ter life for all, pro-poor move­ments at home must play a big­ger role in map­ping out new par­a­digms of tack­ling en­demic poverty and in­equal­ity in our coun­try.

It is non­sen­si­cal to want to po­lice the South African econ­omy as if it was a mis­sion­ary sta­tion of Europe and North Amer­ica – thereby lim­it­ing cre­ative and fresh re­sponses to the is­sues of eco­nomic in­jus­tice. The habit to la­bel some among us as good lead­ers for busi­ness and oth­ers as un­de­sir­ables for the mar­kets is un­for­tu­nate. One can al­most hear whis­pers in the dark: “The mar­ket shall gov­ern.”

It is not a co­in­ci­dence that those who con­tinue to ben­e­fit from an eco­nomic sys­tem of com­merce and in­dus­try that ex­ploits and ex­cludes the ma­jor­ity now use their po­lit­i­cal prox­ies to weaken the ANC and even openly call for its demise. It’s the old tac­tic of “di­vide and rule”, per­fected by im­pe­ri­al­ist forces a long time ago.

The ANC must never be dis­tracted from tak­ing the most ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­tions and pol­icy de­ci­sions that will help give ma­te­rial mean­ing to the idea of free­dom for the ma­jor­ity of our peo­ple. Amid vast in­ter­nal chal­lenges, the ANC must seek to ful­fil its his­tor­i­cal mis­sion and not waver in the quest to over­throw the stub­born and sys­temic rem­nants of apartheid colo­nial­ism.

We owe it to our­selves, our chil­dren and their chil­dren to stand up and de­fend the land of our fa­thers and fore­fa­thers. We must give ma­te­rial sub­stance to so­cial eman­ci­pa­tion. It is this ma­jor task that must an­i­mate the ANC even more in the year of OR Tambo’s 100th birth­day an­niver­sary.

‘They’re not the mes­si­ahs our peo­ple have long been wait­ing for’

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