The witgevaar is over. Officially in the ANC’s convoluted revolutionary vocab, “white monopoly capital” will not exist and the economic enemy will still be “monopoly capital”. This signals another victory for those who want to see the back of President Jacob Zuma. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Late afternoon on the fourth day of the ANC’s national policy conference centre, a smiling ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe waltzed into the media lounge at the Nasrec Expo Centre south of Johannesburg.
It was the first time since the start of the conference, on Friday, that he was spotted coming in to greet hacks and ANC media staff, and he was considerably jollier than a few days ago.
“There is no such a thing as white monopoly capital,” the man who speaks on behalf of the ANC confirmed.
There was no blood on the floor when this position, supported by the camp tending towards Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, was adopted in the economic transformation commission, an insider said.
Ten years ago the party resolved that “monopoly capital” was the “chief enemy of the NDR (national democratic revolution)”, because a national democratic society would encourage competition and discourage monopolies, and this is set to stand.
“Nothing much has changed for us to suddenly insert ‘white’,” another delegate who sat in the commission said.
There was a lot of noise ahead of the conference about “white monopoly capital” by supporters of the so-called Premier League, including the women’s and youth leagues, and it was amplified by the publicity machine of Bell Pottinger, which terminated their business relationship with the Gupta family two months ago.
The Premier League are supporters of President Jacob Zuma and are campaigning for former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to become president at the party’s elective conference in December.
On Monday at Nasrec the majority of delegates were said to have pushed back and “monopoly capital” prevailed in the economic transformation commission at the conference.
More than 100 delegates rose to speak on the topic in the commission, but because those who have been pushing for a resolution condemning “white monopoly capital” had caucused beforehand, the speeches in favour were similar.
Insiders say there is real worry in the party about the ratings downgrades and getting the country out of the self-made economic crisis it was experiencing, and this led to caution in the commission.
By Monday evening, drafters of the final resolution were still deciding how to couch the concept of “radical economic transformation” for posterity in a way that would reflect the party’s intention of eradicating the inequalities that exist. It is likely that the party would stick to its approach of social and economic transformation.
“Radical socio-economic transformation is the policy approach of the ANC at least since 2012,” a delegate said, referring to the party’s decision to achieve economic freedom in the next five decades after political freedom has been achieved in the first two.
“The question is, what has the state – Zuma’s government – done since to radically transform the economy to benefit not only black people in general but the country in general.”
The implied answer is: not much, but look at what the Zumas and Guptas had done for each other.
Ramaphosa himself on Sunday hinted that the idea of “radical socio-economic transformation”, as proposed by the branches, was the one that he’d prefer.
From the noise that was made at the opening of the conference, where Zuma delivered a stinging attack on opponents and refused to call the problems in the party by name, it seemed then that Number One had the numbers.
But the way the decisions have been going, however, Ramaphosa has been on a winning streak. On the first day, Mantashe’s diagnostic report detailing the problems in the party and with state capture was tabled, even though Zuma supporters tried to stop it.
The economic transformation commission seems to be delivering a second win.
Perhaps the Buffalo Soldier – Ramaphosa – wasn’t lying when he said mid-way through the conference that he was “highly elated”. DM
Photo: Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa at the Policy Conference. (Ihsaan Haffejjee)