The ANC policy of “the eye of the needle” seems to have been mostly needed on a few of those who joined the ANC in the mid-1980s from the glorious UDF, like Trevor Manuel. The ANC simply mopped up all sorts; that is why we have the Terror Lekotas who deny land was grabbed by whites and are now fervent supporters of black exploitation. Trevor Manuel has come out boldly from his sleeper cell group within the movement.
Amilcar Cabral in Unity and Struggle says, “Do not confuse the reality you live in with the ideas you have in your head”.
This instructs us to avoid at all costs being unprincipled, ideologically dissonant and susceptible to turncoats. Painfully, the Congress Movement has seen a lot of this since 1912, indeed prior to 1912, many among our forefathers joined with one or the other Boer or English company against their own. This is particularly painful to see happen after our political liberation, as there is no valid survival reason why this ideological betrayal should occur.
In 2002 ANC Umrabulo – Colonialism of a Special Type, the ANC wrote that; “…because the concept of colonialism does not specify the nature of class relations it was important to move beyond the form of the social formation to its content. Colonialism of a special type was found to be perpetrated by a capitalist class. This class came to be known as “white monopoly capital”.
In my opinion piece, which the editors of Daily Maverick styled as a letter to Trevor Manuel, I pondered on the question of when exactly Manuel had turned against the poor masses to be a client of minority capital. Indeed, with proper analysis, we can easily track Manuel’s sidetracking from his push for abandonment of the RDP for policies cemented on a neo-liberal framework that has left the masses in severe economic devastation and as pariahs with a vote. Manuel also caused the first wave of capital flight as he authorised many outside listings of South African companies without any usable conditions. This capital flight punished the rand value.
We continue to fail to call on those more powerful and remain extremely powerful like Manuel to stick to the truth of our realities. Cabral taught that only through principled study of prevailing realities can the theory of revolutionary change be integrated with practical solutions.
Our reality is that the economy of South Africa is owned and controlled by a monopolising class of capitalists who happen to be, in the main, white male Afrikaners. This is an undeniable principle and a first point of departure. The ANC lexicon as far back to its founding located this analysis as a central issue from the voyages to London led by president Langalibalele Dube up to the development of African Claims. Central to the Congress movement was the issue of white monopoly over our land; this monopoly exists today.
Nelson Mandela’s own lips uttered the words “white monopoly capital” or “minority capital” more than I can count. Mandela embodied the ANC lexicon and Manuel has never been the authority on ANC policy; instead he was always a spoiler.
Do I find myself at all surprised that Manuel denies this lexicon today? No. Manuel shares this exact thought and exact phraseology with one Johann Rupert, the son of Antonj Rupert who amassed his wealth through apartheid corruption via the secret group Afrikaner Broerdebond that chose who presidents and ministers in the Nationalist Party governments would be. At a wine auction I attended years ago at one of Rupert’s own grand farms, he came over to me and in the discussion he said, “White Monopoly Capital does not exist, Fikile.” Hearing the exact words repeated by Manuel explains a lot.
It was indeed not my intention to have a public back and forth with Manuel but to make the point that the ANC has always identified White Monopoly Capital as a key enemy of the people. Nelson Mandela spoke at length on this subject using exactly that phrase. Ben Turok and Oliver Tambo have used the words, or as Manuel says, “lexicon”; White Monopoly Capital.
Manuel decided not to deal with the substantive issues I raised in my opinion but carry on at a tangent about me crying after the Gupta family got to know possibly from someone close to the president that I was to be nominated to be Sport Minister, we can all make guesses as to how this information may have been leaked to them. Newspapers too usually get these sort of leaks and announce or speculate about them before the president does.
Manuel did not understand what my tears were about. He did not get the point then. I am on the record as stating that I have fundamental problems with the way capitalists operate and the Gupta family show us just how ugly capitalism is. Indeed, they abused privately learnt information to try to position themselves somehow. I was not about that, which is why I was the first to report this to the open NEC. I am still not part of that; I do not stand for that. On the other hand, Manuel was one of the people who at that NEC meeting did not agree with my stance on the Gupta family.
I do not have aversions to Manuel’s criticism of the Gupta family or even President Jacob Zuma or any other ANC leader or member for that matter. My opinion is pointed on Manuel’s White Monopoly Capitalism denialism, the ideological dissonance and betrayal.
As for the mud over the supposed utterances I made about the president’s private life, I must take strong exception to this dirty trick. I am an African, I come from the veins of polygamy and I do not look down upon my people and myself. Any utterance attributed to me as disparaging over President Zuma’s marital status is a lie and aims to only cause deliberate trouble or cast me above my own people’s traditions. Indeed there is no way one can intellectually connect supposed marital status comments with the issue of whether White Monopoly Capital exists in South Africa or not. The mischief in bringing this up is naked as Manuel’s selling out is.
It is a fact that the Manuel-Ramos clan has amassed great wealth. This family business clearly started at Treasury and has worked itself at the financial institutions of this country.
Perhaps we were supposed to raise moral and ethical issues when Manuel recommended his then mistress to be Director-General of the Treasury – this was a corrupt and gross abuse of one’s power. Indeed, with hindsight, the nakedness of questionable dealings in particular in the deal approval of the Absa-Barclays transaction arises.
Manuel has fingerprints in our people’s hunger and lack of fair economic participation. The issue of income and wealth inequality is located squarely in Manuel as the chief architect. Today he opines from the shadows as a person who has the answers. He has no answers but a further neoliberal agenda to fatten the Ruperts of the day. He boasts that the tax system is regarded as the best in the world in terms of redistribution. Yes, indeed we are providing free ARVs and social wages, free water and housing and so on. But why is this the case? Manuel controlled policy direction for over 15 years in government and his final years were left with him institutionalising the NDP. He is the course (sic) of all the economic malaise of our people. He has fattened his friends and family. They have thanked him with untold wealth gained through his access to power.
Manuel sold state assets to his friends and comrades; these friends were in turn given money to finance by Manuel himself through the public workers’ pensions. Today, Telkom is a classic example of how Manuel instituted unethical conduct.
The government-owned tourism operator company sale was a similar disaster. Key to Manuel’s design was to maintain a façade of stable fiscus management for credit ratings and impressive growth numbers. This ended up with growth that propped up Manuel’s current employers and his wife Maria Ramos’s. The growth and stable credit ratings Manuel chased led South Africa to have 17-million social wage earners as he devastated the manufacturing sector.
It is Manuel’s legacy that we are dealing with. It is his personal doing, his ideas, that have trapped our people into poverty and today he fashions himself as the best thing since sliced bread. It is his devastating austerity programme that destroyed our hopes. He alone plunged South Africa into darkness and enabled his friends to collude and rob the state on various tenders including the FIFA 2010 build programme.
This current government found a mess plastered in beautiful wallpaper. Manuel’s mess. We are taking all the blame and it is acceptable because we agreed when he forcefully made his points. Never again!
The devastation on our people did not end there. Infrastructure spending was about (sic) halted; neither power stations nor dams were being built. This led to South Africa missing riding the commodity boom cycle that saw countries like Brazil and Australia gaining great development while South Africa was plunged in the dark over load shedding. This all occurred under Manuel. As workers were stripped of their jobs, they were also not being taken care of in our hospitals as courts had to compel him to budget for the HIV pandemic, an issue he was against. Today, we are lectured by the same people that we are clueless and bad, all this while we are dealing with their legacy.
Rupert and bankers got wealthier. They have rewarded him and even crowned him our master himself, except it’s all delusions of grandeur. A selected black elite alongside Manuel also enjoyed the good times. It took this current government to look at how far transformation laws have gone; we discovered only a small dent had been done.
From the construction industry to food production, from mining to manufacturing and tourism, white male Afrikaners have the monopoly and this cannot be denied. One company controls the alcohol market, a couple of construction firms control the built industry leading to corrupt collusion; today, there is not a black-owned bank in the top five banks, they are all owned by a small clique of white Afrikaner males or foreigners. Manuel designed all this and it is his legacy.
We have over 80% of our tax revenue dependent on whites; this is a monopoly itself. It talks to earnings and who earns what. Who earns what talks to income inequality. This inequality comes from an economy monopolised by white males. This is the ideological issue we cannot find agreement on. The Gupta family did not create the inequalities in South Africa but Manuel sold policies of appeasing the very white monopoly capital he today defends so passionately. Manuel has effectively sold out.
As Minister of Police, I am not interested in weighing in on issues; before public servants I am responsible, this is why I will not be drawn into the issues around the Gupta family except to reiterate that capitalists like them and Manuel do all sort of things we cannot agree with. This includes Manuel’s wife’s visit on (sic) the ANC in December 2015 to demand who their preferred Minister of Finance is. The Chamber of Mines does the same over the Minister of Mineral Resources. I have called for regulation of lobbyist like the Guptas, Manuel’s wife, Chamber of Mines, Bankers, and others like them.
I have asked before, where were all these people when Trevor Manuel appointed or accepted Ajay Gupta as Cabinet Adviser on Economy and an “ambassador” of brand South Africa during his term? Where were they when millions were infected with HIV and not given proper medical care by their great Manuels? When what mattered was credit ratings and not human development?
Do people know that the nuclear build that we are castigated over is a Manuel brainchild? Does it matter that a part of the reason we run a high budget deficit is because we care for our people – students in higher education and civil servants’ wages? Wealthy politicians like Manuel who in a very sophisticated manner enriched themselves in the most unethical and potentially corrupt ways ever imaginable must not fool South Africans.
Let us be clear, it is not our intention to replace one monopoly with another. The economy of the country must be equitably owned and the majority must participate in direct ownership. Manuel can discuss names; we will stick to discussing lived principles in their reality, as Cabral teaches.
The typical Manuel style of undermining fellow comrades and thinking that he alone knows best makes him think I cannot write what I always talk about. Well, the son of the capitalist class can always make these silly aversions but I will continue to “write what I like” and say what I like whether he and his mightier Stellenbosch best friends forever drink wine over it or not. DM
Fikile Mbalula is an ANC NEC member and Minister of Police
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Daily Maverick.