By Tiisetso ‘Afrika’ Makhele
In each epoch, history presents a mission that should be implemented by the generation in that era. The 1912 generation was tasked with a mammoth task of uniting Africans across all ethnic divides for the struggle for freedom. The 1944 generation had a historic task to ignite the revolution by adding the necessary militancy in the movement. The 1994 generation was provided with the task to deliver political freedom for our people. Our task, as the 2017 generation, is simple; defeat white monopoly capital for economic freedom.
The ANC 5th National Policy Conference, held in Nasrec Expo Centre, Gauteng, on 30th June until 05th July 2017, correctly asserted the historic task of this generation. The Policy Conference, in its wisdom, reasserted that white domination of the South African economy by a syndicate of few white-owned oligopolies present a daylight robbery for the South African population, the majority of whom are African and female. The Policy Conference further asserted that the existence of white monopoly capital is a practical deference of South Africa’s dream of a united, non-sexist, non-racial and prosperous society.
Relationship between ANC and capital not adversarial
Despite some misconceptions being peddled around, the ANC is not against capital. In the context of the South African economy, the ANC believes that capital formation is the bedrock of economic growth and development. Capital, in the form of wealth and assets, is an important factor in the production of goods and services.
The draft Strategy & Tactics Document (2017) of the ANC states; “The relationship between the national democratic state and private capital in general is one of ‘unity and struggle’, co-operation and contestation. The ANC is therefore of the view that within a national democratic state there exists a dialectical relationship between the state and capital.
Given the material conditions, the state needs capital and capital needs the state. This relationship, characterized by unity and struggle, is not confusing to the ANC. The ANC appreciates the law of dialectics that provides for the unity of the opposites. So the claim that ANC is against capital, or, more specifically, white capital, is flawed. This is nothing short of propaganda.
Economic concentration as the primary contradiction facing South African economy
One of the most defining features of capitalism, and the system’s inherent contradiction, is the tendency of big capital, often in the form of organized oligopolies, to drive smaller, unorganized competitors against the economic wall. This is the phenomenon that Karl Marx defined as a path towards capital’s “historic crisis”.
In South African context, there is a plethora of companies acting in tandem, through collusions, price fixation and other methods to dominate the economy. Large companies, acting as oligopolies, define South Africa’s economic trajectory. They are responsible for price levels. They determine wages and employment levels. Working with some in the state, they act as economic criminal syndicates to influence the state’s fiscal and monetary policy.
Out of the 25 JSE-listed biggest companies, assessed in terms of market capitalization, none are owned by non-whites (Bloomberg, March 2017). These companies have gained control of the market through, amongst others, brutal swallowing of smaller competitors. Bourgeois economists refer to this sick phenomenon as ‘mergers and acquisitions’. This method has not only led to the death of some emerging firms, it also led to the deepening and consolidation of Apartheid capitalism.
The 25 biggest companies, which include AB InBev (which swallowed SAB Miller), BHP Billiton, Richemont, Naspers, Anglo American and Old Mutual, provide a clear illustration of the nature of our economy. The ANC is therefore correct to characterise our economy as one dominated by a white monopoly capital. This characterisation is supported by facts.
The historic task of our generation
Whilst we appreciate that capital in itself is not the enemy of the people, we must accept that the current economic system is not only unfair to the majority of our people. The existence of white monopoly capital presents a contradiction to the National Democratic Revolution. The syndicates operating as white monopoly capital have developed a powerful offensive against our economic transformation agenda.
Our task, as a generation, is therefore simple, to crush white monopoly capital. We must crush white monopoly capital as a stern warning to any form of monopoly that may seek to ever rear its ugly head again. We must, as we advance towards a fairer economic system, promote fair economic participation, trade and cooperation by all South Africans, black and white. We must weaken the might of corporations and encourage better competition and trade. This we must do not because we hate whites, or that we prefer to replace white monopoly capital with black monopoly capital, but because we are in a war for a better society.
Makhele is an ANC member in Bram Fischer Branch, Mangaung Region. He writes in his personal capacity