Who Will Lead SA to the Promised Land?

By Pinky Khoabane


After listening to Professor Chris Malikane’s presentation on radical economic transformation, it became very clear that the debate on who will succeed President Jacob Zuma was paramount.

Malikane is Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s adviser on radical economic transformation and what he painted was a picture of developments that could only be attained in a very long time to come. There are serious impediments in the way of achieving radical economic transformation: firstly, his proposal calls for unity among Blacks as a driving force behind the programme and a change of the Constitution which requires a two-thirds majority to be effected. Looking at the developments of the last few months, the pre-requite to true radical economic transformation as espoused by the Professor seems seriously long term but what he is advocating for, that workers, Black in particular, contest in the battle for ownership of state power, is what is creating the uproar that we have today. And this is why? On the class structure he says: “Across the board, the class structure under colonialism or apartheid remains intact to this day. The African is at the bottom of the food chain. The darkest skin performs the toughest job at the lowest wage across the board.

“Within sections of the middle class, the African professionals are the worst paid and the most overworked. African small businesses receive the worst deals from white suppliers and white- owned banks, and they operate under the worst economically depressed neighbourhoods.

“Even within the capitalist class, the darkest skin is the lowest in the hierarchy of capitalists. It should also be mentioned that, within the African capitalist class, the upper stratum which is credit-based is found inside, and accumulates directly through, established white monopoly capitalist structures. They own shares, sit on boards and have direct business deals with established white monopolies”.

Given the domination and exploitation of centuries – that created these levels of poverty and inequality in South Africa, we must look seriously at the ANC presidential candidates and ask the hard questions. Inequality and poverty pose the biggest threat to our democracy. And just as the then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki’s “two nations” speech in Parliament got South Africa angry, Malikane’s proposal of a complete overhaul of the economy which includes nationalisation, establishment of a state bank and dismantling monopoly capital and replacing with smaller cooperatives – is getting South Africans all worked up. The problem with our country is that whenever the debate over the racial characteristic of poverty and inequality is raised, it is met with uproar, ridicule, downright falsification of facts and the vilification of the person delivering the message. Poverty and inequality in South Africa have racial, gender and spatial dimensions. Black South Africans, women in particular and those living in the rural areas and townships are the hardest hit. South Africa for the past twenty-three years has shied-away from confronting this reality. In choosing the next president therefore, we must have someone with the courage and bravery to address this issue head on.

The question is who, among the presidential candidates will reverse the black condition as found among the black working class, African in particular. Who among the men and women touted to run our country is brave enough to face the capitalists, white in particular but the Black capitalists who have embedded themselves among institutions of white monopoly capitalists and have now become their spokesmen and women? Who has the courage to address the call to reverse poverty, inequality, and exploitation of the masses and is not indebted to white monopoly capitalists?And just as importantly, who will unite the African National Congress around this matter? There’s much talk about the fragile ANC which can ill-afford another breakaway group after national conference in December but can the ANC afford choosing unity over its commitment to fundamentally reverse the racialised and unequal structure of the economy? There are those who say there’s no need for unity at all costs and that the ANC has reached a critical crossroads where the black capitalists embedded in white monopoly capital structures must be called-out and they must leave if they so wish.

What is true is that the notion of radical economic transformation is not new. As Malikane explained in his address to the BlackFirstLandFirst event held on Saturday, his proposal is nothing new and in fact, as we showed here last week, it dates back to the ANC’s first national conference in Morogoro Tanzania in 1969. The idea to reverse the Black condition and the power that resides among whites can be found in policy documents of all liberation movements.

The commitment to transform the economy is also in the Freedom Charter. And so there should really be no reason for the surprise in a call for radical economic transformation. What has happened over the years since 1994 is that we have collected one set of policies after another on an issue which is clear for all to see. We have obfuscated, calling the devastating legacy of colonialism and apartheid one thing or another and burying our heads in all manner of slogans.

To the questions of why radical economic transformation hasn’t happened, the Professor explained that the heterogenous structure of the ANC impedes some of the noble ideas it has. Among its members are Black capitalists who, like their white counterparts, have amassed their wealth through the same exploitation of the Black majority. The Professor cautioned against throwing some of these capitalists in the rubbish heap of history saying some still work within the liberation movements and should therefore be part of discussions around transforming the economy.

And so, as the ANC faithful deliberate on who will lead them after December 2017, it becomes critical that the chosen one should lead them out of the current morass of poverty and inequality. He or she must lead them to the promised land. The blood lost for this liberation would be naught if it wasn’t accompanied by economic justice.






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    “The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund began to tie loans to “structural adjustment” programs, which channeled more of the debtor country’s financial and productive resources toward debt repayment.
    … Structural adjustments were originally imposed on an ad hoc basis upon individual nations when it appeared that they could not keep up with existing debt payments. By 1985, fifteen debtor nations had been subjected to SAPs, and by 1991, a quarter of the World Bank’s total lending was tied to structural adjustment in 54 nations. As more of the “debtor” nations’ dwindling resources went to debt service, new loans were simply used to repay previous loans, and the total debt of the low income nations more than quadrupled from $100 to $473 billion between 1980 and 1992. World Bank and IMF “reforms” continued, and by the mid-1990s, more than a hundred countries and 80 percent of the world’s population had been “structurally adjusted.” The average developing nation’s debt payments were a third of its gross national product.
    … When no more money or exports can be squeezed from the poor, selling state-owned companies to Northern corporations becomes an option… Once again, a handful of multinational corporations are the beneficiaries.
    Structural adjustment proved to be such a useful tool for leveraging corporate power that it was time to make it a permanent part of the global economy, and that is just what the international trade treaties of the 1990s have done – codified the elements of structural adjustment into international law.”

    George Draffan in his book “The Elite Consensus”

    “The IMF and World Bank are the chief pushers of the whole scheme of structural adjustments that are designed to further open up the Third World economies for penetration and plunder by private monopoly corporations. We call for the abrogation of all loan agreements that provide for structural adjustment, public assumption of private debts and the further exposure of the Third World economies to plunder by private multinational giants.”

    Cebu Declaration, Philippine-Asia Jubilee Campaign Against the Debt, May 18, 1999, Cebu City, Philippines

    “The World Trade Organization, The World Bank, The International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions virtually write economic policy and parliamentary legislation. With a deadly combination of arrogance and ruthlessness, they take their sledgehammers to fragile, interdependent, historically complex societies and devastate them, all under the fluttering banner of ‘reform’.”

    Arundhati Roy

    “The debt is used as a justification to maintain neoliberal policies, including what are known as structural adjustment programs, as institutional mechanisms to perpetuate a state of dependence. Bail-out programs by creditors, with the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have only served to ensure the continuity for mechanisms to keep countries deep in debt.”

    Tegucigalpa Declaration, Latin American and Caribbean Jubilee 2000 Platform, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, January 27, 1999

    “By the 1980s, U.S. policymakers were rejecting the view that a more prosperous, economically independent Third World would serve the interests of U.S. capitalism. And once there no longer was a competing socialist world to which Third World leaders might threaten to turn, the United States felt freer than ever to undo any kind of autonomous development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. One rollback weapon is the debt. In order to meet payments and receive new credits from the US-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Third World governments have had to agree to merciless “structural adjustment programs,” including reductions in social programs, cuts in wages, the elimination of import controls, the removal of restrictions on foreign investments, the privatization of state enterprises, and the elimination of domestic food production in favor of high profit export crops.”

    Michael Parenti

    “Structural adjustment imposed by the World Bank and IMF have brought disaster to the working poor of as many as 100 countries, forced to open their markets to a flood of cheap imports while the rich refuse to abandon their subsidies, quotas and high tariffs. The result is brutal suppression of wages and living standards and elimination of social programs.”

    Noam Chomsky in his book “Year 501”

    “The IMF imposes strict conditions on debtor nations that force them to concentrate on producing cheap exports in order to increase foreign reserves needed to pay interest on their debt. These structural adjustment programs include currency devaluation, reduced wages, cutbacks to social programs, and reliance on the market system. All of these programs benefit creditor nations such as the United States at the expense of the debtor nations.”

    David Model in his book “Lying for Empire”

    “Beginning in the late 1970s, the World Bank and IMF mandated a shift away from industrialization toward economies based solely on the export of raw materials and agricultural products. Loans were now to be used as leverage to impose what were called Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs)-programs that mandated slashing social spending, eliminating price subsidies and trade tariffs, and privatizing government-owned industries and services-all in order to pay down foreign debt.”

    Lena Weinstein

    “The United States is now the world’s largest debtor nation, yet has avoided the pain of “structural adjustments” imposed on other debtor economies. US interest-rate and tax reductions in the face of exploding trade and budget deficits are seen as the height of hypocrisy in view of the austerity programs that Washington forces on other countries via the IMF and other Washington vehicles.
    The United States tells debtor economies to sell off their public utilities and natural resources, raise their interest rates and increase taxes while gutting their social safety nets to squeeze out money to pay creditors.”

    economist Michael Hudson

    “The infamous `conditionalities’ policy for procuring emergency IMF loans… remains in force to this day… The prospective recipient of money must convince inspectors it is implementing a “realistic rate of exchange… as defined by the IMF. The focus on the exchange rate allows the IMF to control a country’s fiscal policy, government expenditure, tax policy, and public enterprise policy – in short, every aspect of national economic life… The formula is invariably the same. The debtor country is forced to slash imports, severely devalue its domestic currency (ensuring that relative dollar-denominated debt increases by multiples), and impose draconian cuts in government subsidies for food and other necessaries, while opening vital areas of the national economy to foreign takeovers on the cheap, justified as `free market reforms’ by the IMF.”

    Executive Intelligence Review

    “During the 1970s and 1980s, the U.S. used the dictatorship of Baby Doc Duvalier to impose what the International Monetary Fund calls a “structural adjustment program.” Haitians called it “the plan of death.” Duvalier opened up the Haitian economy to heavily subsidized U.S. agricultural exports, especially rice, which undermined the ability of Haitian peasants to compete on the market.”

    Ashley Smith

    “When the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund lend money to debtor countries, the money comes with strings attached. These strings come in the form of policy prescriptions called ‘structural adjustment policies.’ These policies require debtor governments to open their economies to penetration by foreign corporations, allowing access to the country’s workers and environment at bargain basement prices. Structural adjustment policies mean across-the-board privatization of public utilities and publicly owned industries. They mean the slashing of government budgets, leading to cutbacks in spending on health care and education. And, as their imposition in country after country in Latin America, Africa, and Asia has shown, they lead to deeper inequality and environmental destruction.”

    Global Exchange

    “Fiscal austerity [structural adjustment] will imply massive cuts in social spending, which will do to the developed world what they did to the ‘developing’ world: health, education and social services will be cut, with public employees in those and other sectors fired, creating a massive new wave of unemployed people. Simultaneously, taxes will be dramatically increased, particularly on the middle and lower classes, which would then be more impoverished than ever before.”

    Andrew Gavin Marshall

    “Since the 1980s, it is mainly the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) of the World Bank and the IMF that act as the enforcers of neoliberalism. These programs are levied against the countries of the South which can be extorted due to their debts. Meanwhile, numerous military interventions and wars help to take possession of the assets that still remain, secure resources, install neoliberalism as the global economic politics, crush resistance movements, and facilitate the lucrative business of reconstruction.”

    Claudia von Werlhof

  2. Dear Sizwe,
    With all respect, and without coming across as a defender of the Editor since she is far more capable at doing that herself.
    Your opening line is accusing her of having used a religious connotation in solidifying her point.
    Quite honestly, I did not pick any trace of Messiah in her writing until you placed it. The promised land could also be that which was espoused in 1955 by the Congress of the People when they created the freedom charter. unless the “promised land” has a patent owned by the Israelites, this cannot be claimed to be biblical at all.
    Let’s focus on substance and rid ourselves of pettiness. The road ahead is tough and requires great formidability of mind.

    Best regards,

    1. Dear Senzangakhona

      Welcome to our community at UnCensored. I had actually penned a response to Sizwe giving him 100% for his ability to side-step a matter.His response was ironic as I mention somewhere in the article how we have obfuscated over the Black condition over the years and not addressing the issue.
      But I thought what the heck, let me let SiZwe be! Yes, the phrase Promised Land doesn’t have a religious connotation only. But each to their own. It would be lovely if we could debate issues at hand but debating semantics is within one’s right as well.

      And by the way, you are within your rights to defend the Editor.



  3. Why is it that in this country even leftist people tend to use religious connotations? Pinky seems to search for the Messiah to lead her “to the promised land”. I think change will come only if and when the masses are able and empowered to participate politically on grass roots level. At least that is how I understand the word democracy.
    The Russian Revolution a hundred years ago was exactly that. Local councils (soviets) were the backbone and the motor of fundamental change or “radical economic transition” if you will. The leaders as well as the leading organisation, the Bolsheviks, would’ve achieved very little without this mass participation.
    Even the greatest leaders can and do go astray, because they are humans. They need the corrective or “wake-up call” from the masses. “Messiahs” don’t need that, because they are spiritual products of human inadequacy.

  4. Who… Indeed to lead us out of the morass of poverty deprivation humiliation hunger and despair? As things stand now i do not think that the current deputy president of South Africa will make that cut, given his association with wmc as well as the Marikana issue. The former AU chair on the other hand had shown when she were minister of health that she does not shy away from her determination to get things done. Her record at the AU also indicate that she is a worthy candidate for the Presidency. We must also admit that we will get the Candidate that we deserve, meaning that the candidate elected must have the will to carry forward the hopes ambitions and aspiration of the black people forward.

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