I have never, in my short span of life, ever, imagined that the day would come to pass when I would accuse ANC intellectual, Joel Netshitenzhe, of epistemic laziness.
His piece “Of emptied sacks and white monopoly capital” is the worst of intellectual crimes. He served us a pig’s breakfast. It was as treacherous to sound reasoning as it was insulting to the intelligence of black people.
I am deeply disappointed. It is a personal sadness; as a toddler in critical thought I have aspired to grow-up to be a Joel Netshitenzhe.
Well, no more.
I still cannot fathom out how a man of his establishment can reason so foolishly.
According to Netshitenzhe’s narrative, if one black man is a fool, all black men are fools. This betrays his real agenda. That is, his preparation to defend White Monopoly Capital (WMC) at all cost including racial stereotyping of black people.
Just for now, I am willing to concede that it may be undesirable for the ANC to use racial categories in its policy documents.
Be that as it may, I must dismiss Netshitenzhe’s views with the spitting contempt they deserve. How could he conclude that the use of WMC may lead to the unintended consequence of racial cleansing. He must be high on intellectual cannabis. Black people are not that stupid. Many, may, by given circumstance, be illiterate but they are not ignorant.
My grandfather, having not set a foot in a classroom, does not, on me saying that the economy is white controlled understand me to mean that all white people are bad by nominal facts. To the contrary, he needs no highfalutin numbers to confirm his lived experience. He has spent over 40 years of his life contributing to a pension fund that today pays him an annuity of R183 a month. If you told him he is a shareholder in the JSE he would find it laughable if it was not so tragic.
It is a shame for Netshitenzhe to dare to create the impression that institutional capital of close to 30% dilutes the grievance against WMC. It cannot be— not when black asset managers handle less than 5% of industry assets, When Alexander Forbes reported, just in March, that “none of the top 10 asset managers are black-owned.” Certainly, not when the top five on the list control 52% of the industry.
Netshitenzhe pretends that there is something racially empowering about the PIC’s 10% share of the JSE. He falls over himself trying to obfuscate by reference to state monopoly capitalism— so what? Since when is public ownership a logical equivalent to private-white-family dominance?
Given that 85% of the CEO in the top 40 companies, 79% of top executives and 72% of board members are white, does Netshithenzhe really want to nail his lily-white colours to the mast?
Netshitenzhe’s impunity knows no bounds. He dares to suggest that in 1962 the SACP mistakenly used WMC as a “common day-to-day usage of the word, rather than as a category of economics or political economy”— well, not a chance!
The characterization of monopoly capital has a particular history in South Africa. For example Harold Wolpe, in 1972 , on “Capitalism and cheap labour-power in South Africa”, used the phrase English Monopoly Capital to draw a distinction between “the English” and Afrikaaners. This renders Netshitenzhe’s conjectures absurd and perilous.
I will take him further down trash avenue. In 1888 Paul Kruger referred to Cecil John Rhodes’ cronies and friend as the “Rand-lord Monopoly Capital of Johannesburg”. After the Anglo-Boer war, in 1902, the language changed “Anglo-Jewish Monopoly Capital of Johannesburg.” So it is dishonest of Netshitenzhe to fib that the SACP’s reference to WMC was a mere lack of rigour in mastering vocabulary.
I am also glad that Netshithenzhe has set his pants on fire by using the example of Anglo American owning just 2% of the JSE and Rembrandt Trust down from 13% to 9%.
According to Butler, historically, Anglo-American and De Beers were mostly controlled by E Oppenheimer & Son. They used a complex cross-directorship scheme which I will come back to. But effectively Anglo held 40% in De Beers, De Beers in-turn owned 35% of Anglo, with O&S holding another 8%. By the late 80s Anglo had diversified into 1350 subsidiaries including SAB, Edgars, Hullets sugar, Yum-Yum peanut butter, Solly Kramer liquor stores, Mc Cathy cars, Mondi paper and so on. In all these, Harry Oppenheimer’s personal assistants, children–in-law and god knows what else, sat on boards controlled by the family. So they did to the market what the Guptas are doing to our SOE’s boards.
The best way to explain this is that capitalists like to diversify. They list on global markets. They use other people’s money to create wealth while still retaining family power and control.
This is done through dual-share schemes where shares sold on public-exchanges are shares in profits but carry insignificant voting rights. This is why a family has 42.57% control over Remgro while Public Investment Corporation has 9.63% control. So if this family captured the state, combined with the PIC share, they would have absolute control over the group.
Now to cut a long story short, Rembrandt was accused in CIEX report of having stolen R 2.2bn from the state. In 2000, a year after the 1999 CIEX report, Rembrandt split in Remgro and VenFin.
VenFin has delisted and is now a family-linked private equity firm. Before it left it had 15% of Vodacom, Dimension Data, ETV and Tracker.
Remgro is still listed. Remgro’s control structure and cross-directorships include BAT, Unilever South Africa, Distell Group,. Mediclinic, ETV and ENCA, SEACOM the undersea cable that gives us internet. All companies belonging to this family are in the top 25 on the JSE in terms of Market Cap, three are in the top 5.
But these share schemes also affect what Netshithenzhe losely calls 30% foreign ownership. Family companies such as Richemont and BAT which have listings world-wide, don’t do this for fun. These are control swaps were friends and family nominate each other to dominate industries in their respective countries of origin. How do they do this? One way is through activist shareholding, where as little as 10% ownership can control a company by exchanging board appointments. If Netshithenzhe really wanted to be useful, he should dedicate more of his institute’s time to tracing what these cross-directorships mean in real terms, instead of spewing out the nominal verbiage.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Trust the Competition Commission’s investigation into Remgro’s dominance in the Heath Sector. Because one family has activist-shareholder control over Discovery Medical Aid, MMI Holdings and Medi-clinic, they may just be found guilty of monopolising the private health-care sector.
All I have said is publicly available to the young, gifted and black researchers at the Maphungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection. If he had asked them to peer-review his work they would have easily drawn his attention to the pitfalls in his consciousness. But he couldn’t; you see, his views sound very sponsored. As a consequence he has brought their names into disrepute.
Something deeply wrong has happened to some intellectuals in the ANC. I am pained by the degeneration. It is a pain in places where the sun won’t shine.
Actually, it is worse than a fart. We have passed the rigor-mortis stage. The rot has seeped-in. It is sepid and drenched for a swim in the sewer. It reeks with the indignity of being the scum of the earth.
One can really take no more. The flies are in their millions. Truth, sincerity and consciousness has departed from their lifeless minds and I don’t think it’s coming back.
Joel Netshitenzhe’s intellectual fall from grace is significant. We have now began the descend down the final stages of mediocrity and hopelessness.
Black people you are on your own. We were sold a song in 1994 and we bought it. What we were hearing in the distant horizon was just a melody of sweet nothings. It was the caged bird singing for its supper. It was a cacophony hoots, cackles and wails. It was a dance of drummed majorettes and platoons of fools full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Perhaps the time has come finally to admit that our own have been captured to subvert the freedom to expressing black pain.
They are determined to slumber our wokeness in order to nurse the wounds of white guilt.
They want to kill black consciousness in exchange for white supremacy and arrogance.
They will police black confidence while the mediocre white man runs rampant as the Gods.
Comrades, Peter Mayibuye is no more, his consciousness has dearly departed, he has become the man that emptied the sack.
*Peter Mayibuye is the Nom de guerre used by Joel Netshithenze in exile