By Pinky Khoabane
The white monopoly capital denialism campaign reached the highest pinnacle last night. It was at the end of ANC’s policy conference and commissions were reporting back the outcomes of their discussions. Joel Netshitenzhe rejected the concept of white monopoly capital saying he had not researched it and mumbled something about its origins perhaps having come from the the South African Communist Party in 1962 or even discussed at the ANC’s Morogoro Conference.
He said 9 out of 11 Commissions at the ANC Policy Conference had rejected the idea that monopoly capital in South Africa was purely white. He said it could be Japanese, Indian or any other colour. Netshitenzhe said the delegates had however taken cognisance of the fact that although monopoly capital was a global phenomenon, in the South African situation, whites still dominated the economy in terms of assets, professions and privilege. Monopoly capital is economic domination and if we accept that in South Africa that domination is by white people, it stands to reason that white monopoly capital exists till today.
Many of the ANC members who have come out against the concept of white monopoly capital have stated that it is used by populists to distract attention from the alleged Gupta corruption. They say it was coined by the family’s former public relations company Bell Pottinger. It would have been perfectly alright for Netshitenzhe to say the enemy was no longer just white monopoly capital but now included the Guptas who were implicated in a lot allegations of state capture – if that was a reflection of the commissions. Accompanied by that statement should have been one that accepted that the Guptas were not the only ones involved in state capture but included white monopoly capitalists as well.
It was painful watching Netshitenzhe speak of integrity of the organisation while refuting the existence of white monopoly capital, even pretending not to know its origins. Just last week we published an article by Professor Chris Malikane who was hired supposedly to advise Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on radical economic transformation. I say supposedly because some in the ANC are even shy to mention the words radical economic transformation these days. In that article he explains explicitly what white monopoly capital is and quotes the numerous ANC politicians who had used the concept in their speeches. In the ANC Discussion Umrabulo Number 1, under the discussion, The National Democratic Revolution: Is It Still on Track, Netshitenzhe writes: “In evaluating whether this still holds, two issues need to be looked at: What does it mean to pursue the NDR? Who stands to benefit from its successes? The fundamental contradiction in South African society is (mainly white) monopoly capital on the one hand and the rest of society (essentially black) on the other“. http://www.anc.org.za/docs/umrabulo/1996/umrabulo1d.html
What is it about some in the ANC that they can truly think this statement by Netshitenzhe in 1996 has fundamentally changed? The economy as recognised by these Commissions, remains in white hands. The bulk of the land still remains in white hands. The only change is that South Africa now has a few black people at the trough with the mainly white monopoly capital.
But then it became even more painful when it emerged that Netshitenzhe distorted the facts on the outcomes of the commissions – that the 9 commissions had rejected racialising monopoly capital and that it was no longer the ANC’s enemy. Latest media reports say the ANC Steering Committee has ruled against Netshitenze’s statements and it is reported the paragraph on white monopoly capital will be redrafted.
Minister Edna Molewa, in an interview with ANN7, said it was important for a chairperson of a commission to report accurately. She said many people had come to the conference asking for the ANC to restore its integrity. “We therefore cant come here displaying lack of integrity,” she said. She contends that monopoly capital does exist and the ANC has always said that the form it takes in South Africa is white. She made examples of white commercial farmers who organised like a club and refused entry of new entrants into the sector.
Netshitenzhe is highly respected and his credentials impeccable and this issue has put a blemish on his integrity.
Malikane wrote this about white monopoly capital: “The strength of white monopoly capital is that it owns and controls South Africa’s resources and it has strong international backers. The dominance of white monopoly capital in the economy determines the nature of the state and society as a whole, since the existence of the state is supported by the resources monopolised by white capital”.
This statement brings us to the issue of the collusion between politics and capital. I’ve in the past written about the campaign to control the financial sources in the lead-up to the ANC’s leadership contestation. He or she who has access to the most money will use it to buy the highest number of votes. This is a global phenomenon but it’s not always guaranteed. The strategy is therefore to close down all other sources of money that may prop-up the opposition. The ANC has proposals that can ensure that the party unites around its candidates and it must if it is to see a win in 2019. The party is bleeding. It’s fractured. It faces lack of integrity. Netshitenzhe’s stunt will not help build the confidence required going forward.
But the ANC says it is a strong and has a history of the ability to self-correct. We shall see in detail what proposals have been put forward.
Campaign to Deny Existence of White Monopoly Capital
As we’ve written here in several articles, the campaign to deny the existence of white monopoly capital has been steadily waged by commercial media and has in recent months been joined by high profile ANC members including former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, Secretary General Gwede Mantashe, and others.
Like the collective amnesia that has so become a feature of South Africa, commercial media – which protect interests of capitalists – have gone into overdrive in an attempt to divorce their masters from the concept of state capture. Such is their desperation that they are downplaying whites’ dominance in the economy to a point of renouncing their existence altogether.
The strategy has been two-pronged. A smear campaign against those whose narrative has placed Rupert and rightly so, as the face of white monopoly capitalists and exposed them as beneficiaries of state funds (till today) and looters of ordinary citizens’s coffers (black and white) through their illegal cartel conduct which includes price-fixing, anti-competitive behaviour that seeks to keep new entrants out of entry into the economy and collusion.
The redrafting of the paragraphs in the ANC policy proposals on white monopoly capital following Netshitenzhe’s comments last night is welcomed. The ANC faithful had however been waiting for the proposals to reach their branches so that they could challenge the notion that monopoly capital in South Africa is not white. The ANC has a lot to do than to bicker over the existence of its enemy which it is facing straight on. Ultimately, whether the ANC neo-liberals call the enemy monopoly capital or white monopoly capital or refuse to see it as the enemy at all, the people of South Africa will not accept the slow pace of transformation of the last twenty-three years while their leaders appease their new masters.