Can dam­age be un­done?

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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?

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