Pariahs in land of their birth
South Africa’s struggle to break the hold of white monopoly capital has just begun, writes
IN HIS book The Founders, André Odendaal wrote: “In 1910 a new white dominion was inaugurated as the Union of South Africa, which secured white interests including of those recently conquered, the Boers, at the expense of blacks, that formed the immediate cause of the formation of the ANC in 1912.”
At the time, Sol Plaatje exclaimed that blacks woke up as pariahs in the land of their birth.
Key phrases used by Odendaal are “white dominion” and “secured white interests”. “Dominion” is a noun describing monopoly, dominance or hegemony – “secure white interests” refers to monopolised (secure) white capital (interest).
When the youth of the 1940s, led by the ANC Youth League’s Anton Lembede, and the youth of 2010 said, “youth action for economic freedom in our lifetime”, they were saying here stood an economy monopolised by whites.
The ANC devised the Struggle for liberation into two phases. Duma Nokwe said: “First we should take over state power, stabilise it and then redistribute the wealth to our people.”
Last week in Parliament, I stated: “We have no time to waste time” – be it over domestic violence, radical economic transformation and the general socio-economic plight of our people.
Our call for radical economic freedom is neither new nor nefarious. This call is also not being made lightly. We make it fully aware that white capital will do all it can to disrupt and fight back through an information war, recruiting our own, courts and other means.
When he called for “radical redistribution of economic power”, Dr Martin Luther King jr knew the risks were high. He had long finished his “I have a dream” reconciliation policy and was then embarking, as we are, on the second phase of the civil rights movement when, in Mississippi in February 1968, he said: “It didn’t cost the nation one penny to racially integrate lunch counters, it didn’t cost the nation one penny to guarantee the Negroes a right to vote, but now we are dealing with issues that cannot be solved without the nation spending billions of dollars and undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.”
Therein lies the politics of our times in the ANC and, broadly, South Africa.
I’m not sure when exactly (Trevor) Manuel switched; it is apparent this occurred while he served as finance minister. Indeed, he championed and caused to entrench a deep neo-liberal sleeper cell among us. It was even hard to him to appropriate funds for HIV antiretroviral drugs as 400 000 people, mainly Africans, died prematurely, with more than 5 million infected, including children, who later became orphans under his watch. No one asked for a consultative conference then.
Manuel claims “there is nothing like white minority capital”. Indeed, many have said the same, including the likes of the liberals’ darling, Moeletsi Mbeki.
These statements lack vigorous intellectual thought. They are dishonest and reveal glaring dissonance among the super black elites and the masses.
In the report on strategy and tactics at the 1969 Morogoro Conference, the ANC said: “To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the root of racial supremacy and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.” Now that Manuel is in the same trough, he is a denier of the existence of these economic forces the ANC identified. He satiates in the minority trough.
The ANC has always made it plain that it fought white and imperial domination. This presents itself culturally, politically and economically. If this does not exist, what then was Nelson Mandela speaking of in that infernal dock? Economic and political domination means someone does the dominating, the monopolising. When a minority is dominant it holds a monopoly.
Perhaps Manuel is explaining why for two decades he did not care for our people. He failed to internalise our African claims; our hopes on him were based on something he now says “does not exist”. It was hard to finance higher education for the poor during Manuel’s dominance; land redistribution became but a dream. Now we know why. As land is the economy, we may now suppose, as Mosiuoa Lekota does, that land dispossession did not exist. The truth too becomes a monopoly possession of those who have monopoly cross-media ownership such as Manuel’s new bosses, the Rothschild Group.
The indispensable political reports at Morogoro said: “In our country – more than in any other part of the oppressed world – it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the land to the people as a whole. It is therefore a fundamental feature of our strategy that victory must embrace more than formal political democracy.”
The economy of this country is white; this group of mainly Afrikaner men control almost all the levers of it. The stateowned enterprises (SOEs) exist to facilitate business for this group. Our SOEs are economy enablers, currently they are enabling, in the main, minority whiteowned businesses who pay our people starvation wages.
The argument – “but Eskom or Transnet are dominant” – is misleading. Eskom powers up guzzlers like Nampak and big mines that receive mammoth discounts on their power. South Africa has the world’s cheapest electricity for industrial use.
SAA, aside from its management challenges, is also an economy enabler. It transports businessmen to airports such as Kimberley at a loss to it, but a gain to businessmen. No private commercial airline could ever do that. The same argument is traced throughout the SOE chain, which is often mischaracterised as dominant and, therefore, there is no white monopoly or minority capital.
Credible researchers have published that, since 1994, only R350 billion worth of black empowerment deals have been concluded to date. Let’s evaluate exactly what the size of the South African economy is.
We often hear that because the JSE’s market capitalisation of R5 trillion is half foreign-owned we should not bother looking at who owns the South African-domiciled half worth R2.5 trillion. Although the public sector pensions own part of these white-owned firms, it does not make this excess or wealth capital. If you own a house you live in with no other house, your house is not wealth; you cannot trade that house. Should you do so, you become homeless – likewise with pension products.
Of the R1 trillion in cash hoarded by corporates at white-owned banks, none of that cash is black-owned. Of the R5.8 trillion private property (excluding agrarian and commercial land) value in South Africa, blacks own township or RDP-style properties.
Take the private investment funds industry whose customer base is largely white; this industry has a cash value of R4.5 trillion.
White monopoly capital’s strategy is to cause blacks to defocus, break apart and fight over crumbs.
It’s hard to understand this if one’s household earnings are by no chance over R100 million annually like the (Barclays Africa chief) Maria Ramos-Trevor Manuel clan.
The ANC supports foreign direct investment. This is good, but that foreigners own half of the JSE illustrates the risk that majority rule is under. We are living at the mercy of external forces that are reshaping our politics through capital accumulation because the majority of this country has no means to own this very half.
No other industrialised country has more than 40% of its stock market owned by foreigners, but South Africa. This speaks to the politics of global domination that OR Tambo spoke of.
Our currency is dependent on young people in striped suits on Wall Street who, with no feeling, strike keyboards betting against the rand to make profits or when banks managed by Manuel’s family illegally manipulate rand exchange trades.
We have said at the national executive committee of the ANC that the rand is peculiarly politicised; perhaps the most politicised currency in the world. Manuel did nothing about that and we know why.
White domination exists. Economic domination of black people exists. This domination emanates from a racially monopolised economy, specifically monopolised land ownership. Any person who says white monopoly capital does not exist should explain the meaning of Cecil John Rhodes’s 1894 Glen Grey Act which grabbed the land belonging to Africans; and the infamous 1913 Land Act which effectively monopolised 93% of land for white capital’s usage, leaving just 7% of arable land to the 95% African majority at the time. What was the meaning of the Broederbond?
The future of the ANC relies on its understanding of the question of economic dispossession of the natives and the restoration of their full economic rights.
It is also important to remind ourselves of the October 2007 National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry annual general meeting, where SACP general secretary Dr Blade Nzimande stated: “… we must together wage a struggle to have economic policies that must break the hold of this white monopoly capital over our economy.” I agree.
As Friedrich Engels stated: “All history has been a history of class struggles between dominated classes at various stages of social development.”
Our struggle has just begun. Fikile Mbalula is an ANC NEC member.
‘GLARING DISSONANCE’: The writer says former finance minister Trevor Manuel has claimed ‘there is nothing like white monopoly capital’.