Man­dela’s ideals are un­der se­ri­ous threat

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Si­bonelo Sosibo

JULY 18 WAS de­clared In­ter­na­tional Man­dela Day by the UN. This is in hon­our of a man who was in­car­cer­ated for 27 years and later be­came the pres­i­dent of his cap­tur­ers. In his most mem­o­rable speech dur­ing the Rivo­nia Trial, he de­clared that he was pre­pared to die for his “ideal of a demo­cratic and free so­ci­ety” in which ev­ery­one would be equal.

That is why he had fought con­tin­u­ously against all forms of op­pres­sion.

The cur­rent nar­ra­tive of state cap­ture threat­ens this ideal.

The first ex­am­ple of state cap­ture is the so called white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal (WMC) where the mi­nor­ity white peo­ple own strate­gic parts of the econ­omy at the ex­clu­sion of the ma­jor­ity.

Afrikan­ers, dur­ing their rule, cre­ated and funded their busi­nesses at the ex­pense of the ma­jor­ity. To­day, as a re­sult, they still own vast pieces of land which they refuse to share with fel­low South Africans. On the other hand, there is the so-called Gupta Mo­nop­oly Cap­i­tal (GMC). The suc­cess of this fam­ily – un­der the guise of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion – is wrongly seen as black progress.

The re­cent cabi­net reshuf­fle, aimed at this goal can­not suc­ceed be­cause the new fi­nance min­is­ter has re­it­er­ated that he will im­ple­ment the cur­rent ANC poli­cies which, as ex­pe­ri­ence has shown, are not rad­i­cal.

The GMC poses a sim­i­lar threat as its neme­sis through its global net­work.

Save SA’s Sipho Pityana ar­gues that state cap­ture is an in­ter­na­tional syn­di­cate in­clud­ing some Brics mem­bers, Asian and African coun­tries. The R1 tril­lion nu­clear deal with Rus­sia, for one, could ben­e­fit the pro-Zuma fac­tion through kick­backs.

As such, South Africa’s 2019 elections might suf­fer the same fate as the US’ – al­leged vote rig­ging by Rus­sia – in favour of a pro-Sax­on­wold pres­i­dent.

These state cap­tur­ers need to be seen for what they are – a threat to the ideals that Man­dela fought for all his life.

Let us ponder at two of the many lessons that the cur­rent lead­ers can learn from Man­dela. Man­dela was a good strate­gist. Not only that, he un­leashed his strat­egy at an op­por­tune mo­ment.

He founded the ANC’s armed wing just mo­ments af­ter the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity had awarded his pres­i­dent a No­bel Peace Prize. Yet he knew that this was not a fi­nal so­lu­tion. He al­ways main­tained that the op­pres­sor de­ter­mines the na­ture of the strug­gle.

For them to de­nounce vi­o­lence, the South African gov­ern­ment had to re­peal key apartheid laws. Yet, it was Man­dela who ini­ti­ated talks with the then pres­i­dent about a pos­si­bil­ity of a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment.

“There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock (and be) con­fi­dent that he is lead­ing his peo­ple the right way,” said Man­dela.

If this was a mis­take on his part, he was pre­pared to live with it be­cause prin­ci­ple was on his side. Apartheid had been a crime against hu­man­ity and it needed to be de­feated at all cost.

Like Man­dela when he “re­signed” from vi­o­lence and opted for peace, the cur­rent lead­er­ship, start­ing from the pres­i­dent, could fol­low suit.

Sim­i­larly, ANC MPs, as sug­gested by Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng, are al­lowed “to ex­er­cise their vote freely and ef­fec­tively in ac­cor­dance with the conscience of each” with­out the fear of be­ing vic­timised.

Num­bers show that the suc­cess of im­peach­ing the pres­i­dent rests on ANC mem­bers. These MPs and the NEC need to re­deem their dig­nity.

The sec­ond les­son is that Man­dela was never a life pres­i­dent. It was dur­ing his term that the South African Trea­sury and SARS were re­struc­tured to con­form to in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cepted norms. This was fol­lowed by a 99-month eco­nomic growth be­tween 1999 and 2007.

At the epi­cen­tre of these de­bates to­day is that same Trea­sury which ev­ery­one wants to ex­ploit.

Man­dela could have got­ten his sec­ond term eas­ily. How­ever, he had ful­filled his im­me­di­ate goals – eco­nomic sta­bil­ity and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. He then stepped down to al­low other lead­ers to move the coun­try for­ward.

The im­por­tance of an in­de­pen­dent Trea­sury can­not be over em­pha­sised. There­fore, it must never fall un­der ei­ther hand of these en­e­mies of the peo­ple.

State cap­tur­ers a threat to ideals Man­dela fought for all his life

Stel­len­bosch Uni­ver­sity

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