Can damage be undone?
THERE have been many shocking revelations to come out of the so-called Gupta e-mails in recent weeks, but the idea that the president’s son would collaborate with an international public relations firm to design a campaign that exploits racial tension in an already fractured South Africa beggars belief.
According to reports, British PR firm Bell Pottinger, in a paid-for campaign for Gupta-owned Oakbay Capital, sought to protect the relationship between President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family and thought a narrative aimed at people on the ground who remain excluded economically, and which stirred racial tension to the extent of advocating violence, was just the ticket.
It seems this is where the “white monopoly capital” slogan originated, bandied about with such glee by Zuma supporters as being the root of South Africa’s failure to progress as hoped beyond the halycon days of 1994.
It’s commendable that the South African media has latched on to this travesty and that Bell Pottinger has fired some of those involved.
Also, that a complaint has been lodged by the opposition DA and is being investigated by a UK regulatory body.
Wayne Thompson of MoneyWeb admits that he was “played for a fool” in wittingly advocating the white monopoly capital agenda aimed, it appears, at protecting the interests of the Guptas, and with them the president. He is not alone.
Many blacks remain excluded from the formal economy and the topics of land restitution and access to finance are certainly pertinent, but Thompson says the “white monopoly capital” conspiracy became a “most beautiful, raciallyloaded distraction” created to divert attention from state looting.
We know now that it has turned into a rallying cry for groups like Black First Land First whose intimidation tactics are well documented.
Zuma may claim that the ANC is more united since the ruling party’s policy conference last week, but the ANC’s Joel Netshitenzhe said in a media briefing after the conference that nine of 11 commissions that debated the issue agreed that capital should not be racially defined, nor was it “the enemy” to the progress we so desperately need.
The ANC has agreed to amend the phrase but only time will tell the extent of the damage that has been caused deliberately by powerful people who claimed to have our interests at heart – or did they?