Pari­ahs in land of their birth

South Africa’s strug­gle to break the hold of white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal has just be­gun, writes

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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’.

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