Toward Building Local Economy, Rhetoric aside

Image result for mec lebogang maile township economy

 

By Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

The ANC government has been turning a blind eye to the revitalisation of the township economy for the longest time. Our township economy continues to reflect the legacy of the apartheid, where cheap black labour is reserved for the industrial sector in the cities – initially in the mining sector and in now also in the rector.
Globalised capitalism and local monopoly capitalism is entrenched in the townships. This is best represented by shopping malls. It is ironic that with our high inequality, poverty and unemployment our country also has a higher number of shopping centres than the United Kingdom, our country has about 1 750 shopping centre while the much wealthier United Kingdom has about 1000.

Our country has no control over how global capitalism impacts the lives of our citizens. Capitalism has been entrenched in South Africa since 1980s when apartheid government introduced its neo-liberal policies. In 1996 the ANC government, through a class project by former Trade and Industry Minister Trevor Munuel, reached agreement with World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the WTO must regulate our tariffs imports from Europe and the US.  Unlike other global South countries South Africa voluntarily adopted this structural adjustment policy of trade liberation and financialisation of our market. Former president Thabo Mbeki justified this decision by arguing that he adopted a neo-liberalism economic framework to settle the country’s international debt.

The government, in an unholy trinity with the WTO and World Bank, reached an agreement which resulted in the deindustrialisation of South Africa’s local economy and the cementing of the global market’s hegemonic power to determine South Africa’s maize and breads prices. Noting that the apartheid government used to have Maize Boards whereby they regulated maize prices without global forces. Today the South African maize price is determined global forces in Chicago.

Our government’s agreement with the WTO subsequently led to key sectors deindustrialising such as textiles, clothing and electronics. This can also be attributed to delay of the economic transformation of townships since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Our dilapidated townships continue reflect the reality of life for the black working class and the poor. They exist in the permanent vacation of consuming without producing anything due to lack of employment and industrialisation.

However, the Gauteng government led by young and vibrant ANC leaders came to the fore with a progressive plan to revitalise the township economy. It is plausible that the Gauteng government through the MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, initiated the revitalization of the township economies project. The township economy emerged as the direct response to poverty, inequality and unemployment. Let’s acknowledge the fact that Gauteng’s provincial government interventions into township economy came as an attempt to address consequences of capitalism entrenched by the Thabo Mbeki administration.

The Gauteng township economy project seeks to build inclusive economy and alleviate poverty and inequality in Gauteng.  Since the inception of this project, Gauteng government has been playing significant role in building township economy. Today, Gauteng has 14 registered co-operative banking institutions serving over 16,000 member-owners, with over R100 million in savings and R150 million in assets. This is a commendable intervention to deal with the negative impacts of neo-liberalism economy.

Revival of Township Economy Stokvels

Stokvels have long existed in South Africa. Their origin can be traced to the colonial and apartheid regimes which marginalised black South Africans and excluded them from the mainstream economy. The fact of the matter is that stokvels appeared in the black communities so that black people could survive the economic and social oppression imposed on them by the apartheid system and buttressed by racial, class and gender exploitation.

Conversely, the first component of Stokvel was the Bantu Burial Society formed in 1932. Our ANC government must unbundle the economy, by bringing Stokvels and burial societies into the mainstream economy. This will automatically revitalise the township economy. The township economy must be revived by boosting the stokvels, and then those participating in stokvels must also purchase the locally produced products.

In the post-apartheid, stokvels are considered informal organisations by the banking sector, although they are governed by a set of rules and principles through their members. These capitalist driven stereotypes behind stokvels continue to exist in our townships and rural areas in order to downplay township economy.

The stokvels have and continue to keep the finances of black people, especially the striving working class, afloat because they create social economy where black people can collectively save their money and buy each other groceries at the certain time of the year or pay out money invested to members instead. Stokvels contribute to the economy of our country. Our government must begin to assess the ways in which they can penetrate the Stokvel industry and grow it to eventually be incorporated into the mainstream economy. Over the years Stokvels in our country have been growing phenomenally.

Stokvels also seriously contribute to community development and local economic growth in several ways: such as the creation of employment and micro businesses. In other words, stokvels strongly contribute to the promotion of financial capital, social capital and social cohesion. On the other hand, they also significantly serve the market—they are reported contribute about R45 billion to the economy. Our government must fully capitalise on and invest in township economies to eradicate poverty.

A Black Economy that benefits white monopoly capitalism

It is estimated that there are 800 000 stokvel groups with 11 million individual members. Gauteng standing at 24% of the people engaging in stokvels . Gauteng has the largest townships in South Africa the combination of Soweto, Tembisa and Katlehong has almost 2 million people.

The Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor Annual Survey embarked on the task of contacting black Africa households about their investments. In 2016 they reveal the fact that the Stokvel sector’s economic estimated economic share has increased to R49 billion in savings and 8% of them, which is about R8.8 billion, were formed for buying groceries.

Again, the Old Mutual Annual Survey Report in 2016 further showed that usage of Stokvels in South Africa by black households has increased from 50% in 2010 to 59% in 2016. As a consequence, there are different types of Stokvels. Topping the list of types of stokvels that black household members belonged to in 2016 were the Burial Stokvel at 34%, followed by the Grocery Stokvels at 18%. At the same time, these stokvels and burial societies consume global products such as groceries produced by multinational companies.

The ANC government, in line with their 54th National Elective Conference, adopted the Radical-Socio Economic Transformation. The revitalization of the township economy is very important and Stokvels and burial societies are central to boosting this development. The ANC must also revitalise the township economy in order to solidify transformation of the economy for black people.

Dismantling the apartheid-capitalists legal framework

Consequently, our government must revisit the Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This was the strategic framework put together by the apartheid and capitalism relations government because they wanted burial societies to work in a way which would benefit the apartheid financial institutions such as banks. Burial societies are supposed to open an account with a bank and they were not allowed to accumulate money without banking it. As well, the Bank Act recognises stokvels within a legal entity, and place limits to the maximum level of deposits for a Stokvel to R9.99 million.

The ANC government must adopt the bottom-up approach in dealing with economic transformation. If it is serious about the call for radical economic transformation they must start by amending Friendly Society Act of 1956 and Bank Act of 1990. This will allow small scale burial societies to open accounts with banks. Currently, many burial societies open bank accounts as cooperatives and some keep their money under mattresses – a seemingly comical idea but a real consequence of structural economic exclusion.

Still today these financial Acts benefit only big banks such as FNB, Standard Bank, Absa etc. The state must attempt to eradicate these laws which work in favour of monopoly capitalism through forcing burial societies to work with banks and giving banks the ability to put a restriction of amount of money stokvels accounts can hold. Our government must continue to buffer the Cooperative Act of 2005 and amend the National Credit Act of 2006 because this Act puts limits on the interest rates for loans, which currently stand at 32% per annum. As it currently stands, the phenomena of Stokvels are considered informal financial structures (the majority of them) and impossible to apply the National Credit Act to these stokvels. Our government must clearly scrutinise these laws in order to make them work in favour of the stokvels directly and the broader township economies as a consequence.

There is no clear Act which governs the stokvels but they are regulated by National of Skovel Association of South Africa and the apartheid Bank Act of 1990. This is troubling because, post the-apartheid regime, our government has not paid enough attention in the development of stokvels. National Stokvel Association of South Africa is the mobilising group of stokvels and it is only authorised by the Reserve Bank. I have argued several times that stokvels must have a direct legislation outside of National Stokvel Association of South Africa that will allow them to have a strong legal basis to function.

SACP and FSCC

In 2004 the South African Communist Party (SACP) made a critical call to the Financial Sector Campaign Coalition (FSCC) and SAFOBS. These are entities created to enhance the regulation of burial societies mostly in the townships. The General Secretary of the SACP Blade Nzimande, in his address on 16 October 2004 at Johannesburg City Hall, called upon SAFOBS and FSCC to ensure that burial societies can deal with banks on the basis of the needs and interests of members of burial societies and not based on profits for banks.

The SACP since its launch of the  FSCC in 2000 has been placing pressure on the South Africa’s financial institutions to be in considerate of the poor and the working class. The SACP campaigned against the banks exploiting the poor and called for our government to transform the financial sector. In a call for transformation of the South Africa financial sector SACP called for the following:

“Creation of a co-operative banking sector, in which the savings of the working class are decided by the working class itself and be used to address the developmental needs of our people. For example, in a country like Cyprus, co-operative banks, which are legislated in law, provide for housing, infrastructure and loans to ordinary people at rates below the lending rates of commercial banks. There is no reason why we should not be saying the time has come now for the workers’ to reclaim their stokvel money , insurance investments and their provident funds to be used for the benefit of the people themselves” [1]

The SACP must revive and intensify the FSCC and the call for our government to establish the state bank that will only focus on township economy. This bank must solely focus on stokvels and burial societies. It must push our government to assess the cooperative, because 85% of cooperatives funded by state failed while our government has already spent around R1billion on cooperatives.

Build a state bank to boost the local economy

Our government must strategically boost the township economy by boosting stokvels. This can happen in a variety of ways, the first leading back to the perpetual debate that our government must establish a state bank. Studying the economic development of Britain, one will see that British government was controlling their banks. This is not dissimilar to the National Party 1989 resolution to nationalise the reserve bank and the ANC elective conference 2017 resolutions that the party must further take a steps to nationalise South Africa’s reserve bank.

Clearly, with a state bank and the nationalisation of the reserve bank, our people can afford to make their banking transactions cheaper contrary to the status quo where in 2004 Standard Bank alone was taking, through bank charges, about 6 cents for every deposit made by each member of more than 50 000 members. This comes to close R300 000 per month. It is troubling that in post-apartheid black South people continue to be financial enslaved by banks.

The Post Office through the Postbank, a state financial institution, holds a higher ratio of stokvel accounts than any other bank except Nedbank. The government must revive the Post Office and boost township economy by encouraging the stokvels and burial societies to bank with them. However, the Post-Office must be treated as the workers and community bank. The Post-Office must not be involved in the mainstream speculative markets of the financial sector. A good example of this is the Northern Province of Italy, which did not engage in financial markets, hence the 2008 bubble burst did not affect Northern Province of Italy.

Practical fight capitalism system

Surely there is a need for a combat strategy to replace the capitalist model, especially in the financial sector and agricultural sector. And it is fundamentally essential for the land issue to be resolved in line with rebuilding the South African manufacturing sector. So that most of the food purchased by South Africans can be manufactured or processed in our country. The ANC, during its watershed 2017 elective conference, resolved for the expropriation of land without compensation. As former Chinese President Mao Zedong pointed that “a revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner.” If the ANC is serious about Radical Socio-Economic Transformation, then they must use the Industrial Development and Corporation (IDC) and Land Bank to strongly fund black farms. Local food production must be supported to boost our food security and reclaim our food sovereignty from global North countries. Legislature needs to be developed create strong cooperatives.

Let’s pause and check the facts, grocery stokvels contributes a lot to our economy. For example, Shoprite (69.9%), Pick ‘n Pay (49.2%) and Spar (32.9%) are the three main retail outlets used by individuals for their grocery purchases. When it comes to shopping for the stokvel, this varies slightly with the top 3 outlets being independent wholesalers (23.3%), Shoprite (20.7%) and Spar (10.6%).  If these groceries are purchased locally the township economy, for instance in retail consumer cooperatives, these can rapidly revitalise our township economic. Therefore, the consumer cooperative appears more significant to the sale and supply of the local food to the Stokvel members. Given that the primary challenge faced by stokvels is the lack of transport; our government must supplement the members of Stokvels buying at local cooperatives with transport to deliver.

Our society is confronted with enormous social and economic challenges which can partially be resolved by revitalise the township economy through boosting stokvels and burial societies. Our nation needs an urgent solution to address three oppressions; poverty, unemployment and inequality. Again, boosting stokvels and burial societies can help to deal with some of these challenges. Stokvels will then start prioritising the township based shops and consumer cooperatives retails as their primary supplier for groceries.

Finally, the ANC government must critically attempt to assist black people to revitalise their local economies by helping them to integrate the local economy into the mainstream economy. This might also improve their living conditions and create job opportunities. Ultimately, our government will be minimizing social and economic problems such as inequality, unemployment and poverty among black people.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Secretary

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Does Marxism have a place in radical student politics today?

                       

Image result for karl marx 200

 

 

 

                                        By: Ashley NyikoMabasa[1]

Introduction

Marxism remains prominent body of ideas in the revolutionary students’ politics, youth politics and in a broader scope of our politics in South Africa.  It is usually referred to as the “Left politics.” The left it is associated with the Communist Parties in the world and can also be founded in the student politics. Indeed, Marxists ideas has penetrated the students’ politics and has managed to pose an impact in the nature of students’ politics, strategy and tactics framework, mobilisation, theory and ideology and organising themselves.

Many students’ organisations, historically and contemporary had embraced the ideas of Marxism with “declaring” themselves as Marxists-Leninist, the Left or Socialists. Historically, Africa’s student politics[2] were scattered in the liberation movements particularly the nationalist movement and Communist Party. As student politics and students’ activism remain outstanding matter for large number of world universities, globally, university students continue to be politically active and engaged, and from time to time, they contribute to the ideas of society.[3]

The contestation and incorporation Marxists ideas is evident in two events historic in South African Universities namely the campaign of #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. These two-distinct series of historic events articulated the intersectionality politics of gender, class and race. In these campaigns, Marxists ideas were evidently contesting the space dominated by racial politics. Here, I will show the importance of Marxist these two historic struggles organised and led by students.

This input, will also show the undying debate between Archie Majefe and Ruth First about the 1976 students uprising. In which I believe it was reflection of students from the working-class background resisting the coercive nature of the apartheid state.  I find both of them ascending from the left politics, though Mafeje happen to make mockery of the South Africa left thinkers. This can be premised to ever continuing students’ politics debate; whether Marxism is European conceptualisation, or it is applicable to South Africa. I will clearly show how students’ embrace and dismiss Marxist ideas under the emergent “fallist”. In this way, I will be showing how the Marxists ideas used and understood in these youth and student politics.

Marxism for students: Conceptual foundation

The student movement, continues to use politically and ideologically approaches to guide their actions and channel their movement towards these beliefs. In this case, Marxism appears to be a strong ideologically tool for student movements and for students in generally. Not to dismiss the Pan-Africanism and other aspect of black radical thought ideas. Marxism is the comprehensive scientific worldview for understanding the complexity of the social world. This ideology provides us with theoretical weapons necessary to attack the mystifications of capitalism and offer us the vision needed to mobilise masses for struggle.

Marxists ideas continue to be persistent under our current social formation.[4]The undying body of ideas encompassed as Marxists ideas within student politics and youth organisations in South Africa will continue to exist as long we are still defined by the system of capitalism—that functions under the profit logic and exploitation of the workers. The fundamentally, motive behind Marxism for students is to destruct the raise the class consciousness to transform our superstructure such as university, education system, the state, culture and redefine the religion to reflect the interest of the working class.

Marxism ideas guide students to understand their location within class formation in the society. It further shows the students inability to carry the revolution without working class, as the students are not located within production system. I feel as, the students understand that Marxist ideas are not static. Hence, students ’activism defies dogmatic/classical Marxism which argues that capitalism has inherited limited to its sustainability. Put this differently, Marx argue that since ‘the composition of capital’ tends to increase with the development of capitalism, and thus the costs of capital relative to labour will increase over time, the profit-generating capacity of capitalism declines as a proportion of total costs and thus the rate of profit tends to decline.

As I have argued that classical Marxists ideas of predicting the fall of capitalism through the overproduction do not find expression with student politics. Since that overproduction it is eventually consumed/absorbed by the state and other innovative institutions. For example, when the capitalism system hit a crisis like in 2008 the state intervenes in the interest of the bourgeoisie. In the same vein, students are practically convinced with the idea of revolution and engaging in the class struggle. This is not dissimilar to Russian revolution, China, and Cuba.

The relevance of Marxism to student

The relevance of Marxists tradition can be located within student politics. Though other student movements some are critical of Marxism literature or theory because of its nature of being universal or speaking the universal language or founded in the premise of European. However, this is not new debates, one would think of the 1970s at University of Des Salaam about the Marxist Leninist ideas and its relevance to South Africa.

It is interesting to find that Pan-Africanists who have experienced the colonialism and apartheid. The colonialism was aimed concentrating the capital and eventually centralising capital to formulate monopoly capitalism. At same time, global there was a Cold War accompanied by the ideological positioning between Marxism ideas and Western liberalists ideas who were attempting to maintain the status quo. The cold war was also about sub-imperialism. Hence, Rosa Luxemburg contended that the post-world war two created sub-imperialism which was (continue) to be focused on extra-economy. This is accumulation based on dispossession, and exploitation between capitalism and non-capitalism relations.

Surely, coming to South Africa around 1970s it was a year black workers organised and mobilized themselves in the industrials sites, we have seen with Durban strikes. In other words, the Tendency of the Workerists Marxists argued that the 1960s to 1980s wave-democratization of the most global South countries can be attributed to the radical workers struggle. One have reached the logically conclusion that that workers strike was influenced by Workers Marxists Tendency (WMT). Subsequently, the University of Stellenbosch here in Cape Town had established the Marxist centre funded by South Africa Defense Force to demonize Marxism theory to students.[5]

South Africa’s social formation continue to reflect European social formation as the results of colonization and apartheid project.  Therefore, it is not irrelevant to use the Marxist theory because it is founded in a European language as an attempt to address South Africa social change. As the students one would anticipate that we must aspire to entertain different ideas at the same time we must cognisant of the production of ideas. And Marxism ideas are the ideas representing the working class base because seek to defy and aspire to overthrow the capitalism mode of production. Which one can attribute poverty, inequality and unemployment of our people to capitalism?

Using Marxists lenses, I am aware of how our complex society functions. Marxism-Leninism can act as our material guidelines in transforming the society, but given that it is read and interpreted correctly. One cannot not say he or she is a Marxism-Leninims but void of Marxism-Leninism in addressing the students’ issues like SASCO. Because Marxism theory helps us to, answer, draw, and analysis complexity questions arising from the society.

Marxism as European Epistemology and idea of the revolution

Some point pointed out that Marxism is a European ideology, because Karl Marx himself he was born in Trier at Germany and he write about European society. They even go far to quoting from Manifesto of the Communist Party that, “A spectre is hunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a hold alliance to exercise this Spectre.”[6]  Indeed, it is correct that the revolutionary spirit of communism in the 19th Century influenced the European countries to challenge their social formation.

In addition, around 1848 at the time Marx and Engels made a submission of the Manifesto of the Communist Party the revolution happened in Europe. The European masses were uniting and rising against the European Monarchies in Germany, Austrian Empire, Italy, and the France. However, due to the limitations of time to dwell into the essence of the revolution to assess whether it was a failure or success. But Marx at the Eighteenth Brumaire predicted that the French revolution would be “concentrated all its forces of destruction” against the executive power, and smash the bureaucratic and military apparatus[7] Marx’s prediction prevailed in 1871 when the industrialised worker seized the Paris state and turned it to a Paris Commune, where the workers take charge of the state and dictated/overthrew the bourgeoisie state of Paris. Conversely, within seven months, the bourgeoisie organised themselves and seizure back the state from the workers. At the time, Marx in his analysis to Paris Commune warned the proletariats that after overthrowing the existing government, they must not lay down their arms.

In the history of the Manifesto of the Communist Party, as the Marxists we cannot ignore the European Revolution at the time. Subsequently, in the 20th century the Russian revolution happened in 1917. The Russian revolution signified the struggle for revolutionary change from the ground. The Communist Party in Russia overthrew the monarchy tribal rule of Tsar Government in replacement with communist party. This is the second account of Marx’s literature influence of Eastern Europe emancipation vision.

The question remain that; we can see that Marx work influence European Countries so how is relevant to Africa? Marx is important to the struggle of Africa and the rest of the world. It is also ignorant to paint Marx theory as European theory. This debate is not new in Africa, different activists and scholars have attempted to answer it. Of course, Marx was white man and was writing about the European classical capitalism at his time. Importantly, is that Marxism as body of ideas always evolves, in that way there is no one Marxism, there are Marxisms stemming from with common roots with different branches.

In evolving of Marxists ideas, the Global South has transcended some of the Marxist ideas and develop some those ideas to be applicable to their social formation. The Global South liberation struggle was fought with the body of Marx ideas at hand. The struggle to defeat ruling class and colonialist fascists Portuguese at Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Burkina Faso was driven by Marxists ideas. Hence, Walter Rodney in his seminal piece “Marxism in Africa.[8] He pointed out that those who premised Marxists idea in a Eurocentric domicile do not understand the foundation of Marxism theory and he charecterised them as follow:

“They[9] seem not to take into account that already that methodology[10] and that ideology have been utilized, internalized, domesticated in large parts of the world that are not European. That it is already the ideology of eight hundred million Chinise people; that is already the ideology which guided the Vietnamese people to successful struggle and defeat of imperialism. That it is ideology which allows North Korea to transform itself from a backward quasi-feudal, quasi-colonial terrain into independent power. That it is already ideology which has been adopted on the Latin American continent and that serves as the basis for development in Republic of Cuba. That is already the ideology used by Samora Machel,  which is in use in the Africa continent itself to underline and underscore struggle and the construction of a new society”[11]

It is troubling that in 2018, there are still activists, students and academics who categorise and dismiss Marxism ideas as Eurocentric ideas. Marxism ideas cannot be termed Eurocentric because Marx  did not write about African countries or because he was born in Germany. Marxism is applicable in South Africa’s social formation of racial capitalists’ state. The challenge that has portrayed by South African left thinkers is that they extract Marxism of 19th century exactly the way it is as an attempt to answer South African problems.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) is guided by the resolutions of the third International from its inception of its predecessor CPSA. The left thinkers in South Africa are the consequent of the “twenty-one points laid down by the Third International or Comintern” [12] Hence Archie Mafeje (1988) argued that Vladimir Lenin then the leader of Soviet Community Party designed the twenty-one points especially for the leadership of the socialist party in capitalist Europe where there are industrialised working class and engaged Marxists. By imposing a Russian Marxism on the SACP whites/Europeans intended to control and guide SACP. This had largely contributed to South African left thinkers misrepresenting Marxism ideas in attempt to forges solutions for South Africa’s capitalism mode of production.

At the heart of this debate, it is in consideration that capitalism in South Africa did not organically develop but it was imposed by the colonial regime. As Walter Rodney in his seminal work “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” in 1972 contended that European colonizers installed capitalism using the mode of colonization, as they incorporated their European administration to the local Africa administration this reflected the European organizational structure of governance or the modern state. This is to say that South Africa’s social formation it is reflection of European social formation as the results of colonization.  Therefore, it is not irrelevant to use the Marxist theory as an attempt to address South Africa social change.

Marxism as a Revolution Theory

Clearly, the strength of the ideological position Marxism-Leninism as the unifying force and have ability to withstand the test of factionalism and ideological opposition. Marxism-Leninism can be a unifying force of race, nationals, different ethnic groupings, and gender to fight against the reactionary forces of capitalism. For example Marxists understand that the issue of race is functionality within capitalist accumulation. Marxist has argued that racism divides the working class and needs to be challenged through a politics of solidarity amount the working class. Marxism views the universality in working class identity trumping the particularity of racism.

In addition, drawing from historical debate and the articulations[13] between pre-capitalism and capitalist modes of production. In our country, the connection between race and class took a particular urgency with the apartheid state’s systemic race based political oppression that can be converged with capitalist exploitation. Since post-1994, the patterns of apartheid racial oppression are continuing through capitalism that both eroded and reproduced forms of racial oppression. Therefore, to understand the continuation of racial oppression there and in many other places of the world within global capitalism requires a new Marxist analysis, which has thus far not emerged in our country.

Indeed, without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.[14]In defence of YCLSA ideological approach of Marxism, which to the best of our knowledge we consider to be revolutionary, against unfounded attacks and an enemy of all criticism. We are using theory of revolution which has been historically proven around the world.

Marxism Leninism as form of practice: Ruth First-YCLSA and Archie Mafeje

I want to draw from Ruth First and Archie Mafeje debate in the aftermath of the 1976 students uprising. Archie Mafeje was a great intellectual who, in 1968 was unfairly denied a senior lectureship position at University of Cape Town because of the discriminative laws. Whereas Ruth First was an accomplished organic intellectual, journalists by profession and truly committed activist in the struggle against the apartheid—she also serve as the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA). There are number of issues emanated from the debate. Ranging from issues around students and workers’ alliance; Black consciousness; two stage revolution theory to the question around the strategy and tactics. I find this debate even more relevant in the current phase of our students’ politics.

Nevertheless, I will stir my focus on the aspects of strategy and tactics as more relevant in expanding my relevance of using Marxism-Leninism in the students’ politics. At the same time I will show the practical approach to political tactics as vindicated by Ruth First in the debate. Mafeje’s argument sound simple: any revolutionary practice requires a guiding theory, coherent political programme and a clear strategy. He anticipated students’students activists to have a perfect theory and plan of action. At the same time he dismissed the Black Consciousness as “diffuse nationalist ideology” that was “ideologically and analytically insufficient.”

Clearly engaging in this debate without dismissing a need for a theory to guide political action, Ruth First contended that it is not necessary to always have a tight and clearly outlined political action. In other words, there is no perfect revolution with predetermined destiny. Ruth First argued that “every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demand” and as the full confrontation with state power gradually expand to full-scale,” then the revolutionary theory will be need and that theory is Marxism Leninism.

However, at the same time students avoid what Ruth First called it “abstract theoreticist reservation” as advanced by armed chair revolutionary intellectuals like Archie Mafeje. Students must understand when Ruth First asserts that “revolutionary programmes have to be won not only in the head, but in the streets, towns, factories and countryside, and by engaging in the struggle, not abstaining from it because it does not start with perfected long-term program.” As Marxists contended must start by organising the working class and consciously give them Marxists theory to understand the society. As the biggest anti-global capitalism social movement in Chapias, Mexico the Zapatista with their slogan that “Walking we ask questions.”

Finally, Marxism it will forever be relevant in our students’ politics. Understanding that Marxism is the not a mimicry of the European theory it is important. Marxism is the revolutionary theory that can stand the test of time; however, some Marxists ideas need to transcended to fit-in our social formation. In case, our culture at period of history was used as a form of resistance, however, some Marxists ideas regards culture as the reflective institution of economic base the capitalism and it is there to maintain the capitalism status quo. At the same time it is important to use Marxism as an ideological diagnosis at the same time takes Marxism solutions.

As Lenin said “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

Amandlaaa!!!!

[1] This paper was presentated at Tshisimani Centre for Activists and Education.

[2] Student politics means the mechanism students use to be politically involved, and from time to time, in order to contribute to the expression of political discontent in their respective environments (Altbach, 1984: 636)

[3]Altbach, 1984

[4] Mean concrete capitalism mode of production.

[5]Masondo, David. Presentation at University of Johannesburg on the review of; Radical Critique of Apartheid, Harold Walpe biography book.

[6] Marx and Engels, 1848 “Manifesto of Communist Party”

[7] Fernbach David, 1973 “First International and After Karl Marx” (Citing Marx original draft of The Civil War in France)

[8] He was addressing the question of Relevance of Marxism in Africa.

[9] Those who refer Marxists ideas as Eurocentric.

[10] By methodology he refers to Marxism as independent of time and space. As we all know that one can use methodology as any time and given space.

[11] Walter Rodney, “Marxism in Africa.”

[12] Mafeje, 1988, page 97

[13]Connection of mode of production

[14]Mza Nxumalo “The relevance of Freedom Charter.”

South Africa’s energy policies will fail due to lack of coordination

Image result for coal energy

The ANC government must start taking its policies seriously and implement those policies for the service of the people. The common dictum is that South African government has good policies but the problem is the implementation of those policies.

Indeed, our government has some of the best policies in the world, which ideally seek to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality. But our bureaucratic system in the government and our public servants render well-drafted policies useless.

The energy sector in South Africa is essential, because it is in the centre of South Africa’s economy. Particularly the mining industry focused on steel and coal. These are drivers of our country’s economy, characterised as the Mineral Energy Complex. Our economic structure is invested in this Mineral Energy Complex, which negatively affects both our environment and our economy.

Our government is perpetually signing energy deals and spin to public that they need to build more coal power stations due to an electricity shortage in the country. Whilst this coal-fired energy that is being built does not go to the society but goes to the energy-hungry mining industry, steel sector and petrochemicals plants.

The Department of Environment Affairs in 2004 drafted the National Climate Change Response Strategy White Paper (NCCRP) focused on adaptation to Climate Change. This policy advances for an eco-friendly economy but does not addresses the issues of Climate Change at hand.

It is troubling that the NCCRP recommends a green economy founded the minimisation of carbon emissions but simultaneously recognises the importance of coal-fuelled sectors as a hub of job creation and central to our economic growth. More importantly, NCCRP does not detail alternatives to coal which will either be renewable energy sources or fuels that do produce high carbon emissions.

In 2010 our government resolved to embark on the mixed energy system underpinned in their 2030 plan the so-called Integration Resource Plan (IRP). This plan came in consideration of degradation and violation of nature and proposes mitigation for Climate Change.

The IRP envisaged that by 2030 our country must have shifted from 85% use of coal-energy to transit to 65% with complements of Renewable Energy with 9%, 5% hydro-energy and 20% nuclear energy. However, the issue remains the approach toward the structural development of renewable energy. Our government approach is a capitalist market-based approach in which government outsources renewable energy to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and then Eksom buys that energy from IPPs.

Post the NCCRP policy in 2004, our government proceeded to borrowing R39 billion (in US dollars) from the World Bank to expand coal-fired energy through construction of the Medupi coal-fired plant. The fourth largely coal generator which poses major climate threat.

Recently minister of Energy Jeff Radebe has signed IPP deal that cost around R55 billion to private companies. This further entrenched international division of labour, whereby global South countries remain consumers and global North producers for the Southern Countries. Consequently, IPPs are another form of creating global monopoly capital.

Then in 2011, the contradictory logic within government revealed itself. A group of elite and neo-liberalist policy makers led by President Cyril Ramaphosa drafted the National Development Plan (NDP) vision 2030. The NDP promised us the 2030 dream of alleviating poverty and creating employment as the IRP promised a transition from coal-intensive energy to a mix-energy to mitigate Climate Change.

Our government has proven that it does not have a well coordinated planning and bureaucratic system. Because NDP suggests that water, transport and energy infrastructure be improved in support of mining and mining-linked economic demand.  Clearly the drafters of NDP did not consider the IRP that argued that South Africa must enter the struggle of energy transition.

Even setting aside the plethora of corruption in government, our government still fails to reconcile its energy policies with economic growth. Due to lack of proper planning, monitoring and coordination of policies, each and every president and his cabinet will be doomed to adopt new and contradictory policies to their predecessors.

At least, the 1994 government had a ministerial office led by Jay Naidoo whose sole focus was the policy implementation of the Redistributive Development Programme. Why does our incumbent government not have policy watchdogs? It is clear in their incoherent policy drafting that no one is keeping tabs on the cohesiveness of the different policies and consistency of the policies with long-term development goals.

In the same breath, our government must start modernising its public service to make efficient policy implementation possible. And this will only come as a result of government having the committed public servants and well coordinated policies.

Climate Change is a reality; the IRP does not aggressively push the mitigation for Climate Justice because coal-energy will still be to be a dominant factor posts-2030. The NDP contradicts the IRP because of its wishes to enhance economic growth by extracting and burning coal.

Indeed, we have best policies in the world. But these policies will be buried if South Africans continue to not be concerned government implementation of these policies.

The communities and trade unions need to strongly organise to place pressure on government to give concessions on the Climate Justice because, at the end the day, consequences of Climate Change will mostly affect the poor. We are seeing these consequences now through phenomena such as droughts and flood. They will only worsen in our lifetime, threatening food security as well as human settlement and safety.

And in the process of reconciling energy and economic growth our government needs to modernise state mechanisms for proper policy planning, coordinating and accountability from municipal level to the national government.

Our country needs a progressive energy policy to protect the poor from the Climate Change. The IRP is an important policy that needs to be amended to be biased towards renewable energy. However, it is imperative that our government develops strong accountability mechanisms. So if the IRP in 2030 does not reach it goals the public servants and state executives are held accountable.

The people of South Africa must always mobilise to hold the state accountable because they are the largest shareholders of the state and they pay taxes for government to service them and serve their interests.

Ashley Nyiko Mabasa

YCLSA Shimi Matlala Wits Branch Secretary

Professor Michelle Williams Research Assistant on Energy and Democracy & Research Assistance at Mjaji Research and Development on Revitalization Local Economic and Informal Participation Formations with Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

Marxism-Leninism SASCO declared itself: Learning from Ruth First

 

Last year I visited my lecturer of Sociology Dr Prishani Naido. Her research is broadly focusing on social movements, she’s a former student leader and currently an activist. She taught me in my second year sociology of social theory and introduced the Ruth First collection and other activists who critique Eurocentric knowledge production such as Mignolo Walter and Trouillot. This might be appealing to friend and comrade Thabo Shingange.

I am not here to pose the rhetorical agility as some Marxists activists who carry caricature of Marxism “that Marxism is the solution for everything under the sun”. These Marxists are not considerate that Marxism tradition can be subjected to critique or complemented. They always attempt to defend Marxism theory, like idealists who forever defend remaining question from materialists; like “does God exist?” by defending the existence of God through citing the holy bible.

My favourite activist is Ruth First. Ruth First was an organic intellectual and truly committed activist in the struggle against apartheid—she also served as the National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa (YCLSA). She serves as the great symbol of revolutionary leader for the communists members today.

Reflecting on #FeesMustFall there are a lot of lessons to be heeded there and lots of things must be corrected every time we sit and reflect. In my conversation with Prishani, she wakened my intellectual thinking about the student movement’s approaches. She contended that there is a dismissal of revolutionary theories and literature in the student movements. Because our student politics are contaminated by populists-demagogues, factionalism and elitist performers, shaped by aesthetics and characterised by violence whereby booing and heckling has become the order of the day.

In thinking about Ruth First, it is important to reflect on her leadership practices and the way she conducted herself within the limits of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) the predecessor of the SACP. However, she was critical of the CPSA emancipatory vision framed in the two-stage theory at the time. She saw no logic and concluded that dual struggle presented by two-stage theory—national liberation and rout to socialism later was logically flawed.

I revived this argument because it will teach us important lesson as time goes on. The popular dictum of Marxist theory, of the base and superstructure had become the gospel tools that had added to the political gallery in the student movement. The base and superstructure debate, have led SASCO to radically rejecting the ruling class that are controlling universities. But they forget to reflect on their position of privil in the superstructure which they obtained by gaining political capital through the ANC. SASCO leaders read Marxist-Leninist theory but betray it for their economic interests – getting paid by the ANC, receiving cars from the ANC and having their headquarters located in Luthuli House etc.

When one engages with SASCO comrades, the student movement declares itself as a Marxist-Leninist organisation. Without ever considering the Marxism solutions when faced with contemporary problems. This student organisation captured the mass base membership in our country, but it appears to be failing to translate their view of Marxist-Leninist theory within the mass base we have seen this in the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall. Thus, reflecting on my conversation with Dr Prishani, she pointed out that SASCO used to be revolutionary student organisation without using Marxist-Leninism, lets consider the fact that it became revolutionary organisation without proclaiming the ideological tool, it was revolutionary because, at the time, they never dismissed revolutionary theory or literature.

I have reached a logical conclusion that SASCO might have advanced to declare itself to be a Marxist-Leninist organisation. Though, lets not try to convince ourselves that SASCO is a Marxist-Leninist organisation. As Themba Masondo the former General Secretary of SASCO argued in 2010 and Floyd Shivambu the former NEC member also argued in 2006, that SASCO’s ideological inconsistency has prevented the organisation from consolidating the radical left perspective on the transformation of the social order. Our student movement SASCO has fallen under the primacy of embracing the nationalists approaches adopted by the ANC, for example the National Democratic Revolution, their SPOT document struggles to give a clear left perspective on the political economy of South Africa and eventually advocates for a mixed economy. Atleast they continue to sustain the center-left ANC political programme, the so-called Freedom Charter.

Reflecting on my conversation with Dr Prishani, she made me understand the subject of theory, subjectivity and ideological engagement. The theory provides answers for the existing questions and generates positions and questions about the world. For example, how did #FeesMustFall emerge? It arose at the centre of structuralism critique of our society and the rejection of the neo-liberalist system which seek to exist for the profit logic. It also revived the question of epistemology—knowledge production. This led to Thabo Shingage coming together with Walter Mignolo, attempting to fit-in SASCO in the revival of Pan-Africanism, Africanisation or decolonial debate in society.

Indeed, Ruth First acknowledged the importance of theory and it was not because her her political socialisation was biased to the YCL. Her articulation of theory for the struggle was not limited to the Communist Party or Marxist-Leninist premise. In her admiring piece to June 1976, AFTER SOWETO: A RESPONSE she extensively made an interesting argument, by first acknowledging the dismissal of theory by students uprising and she later pointed out that “every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demands and the full confrontation with state power gradually expands to a full-scale.” Put differently, to begin the struggle doesnt require theory or the dismissing of theory but the process of sustaining the struggle needs revolutionary theory. It can be a Marxism, Black radical thought, feminism or theology.

I have seen some of our comrades trying to forge Marxism into black radical thought theories. In this case, I started getting worried by these comrade’s mode of thinking. The reason being that, Marxism theory as, Thabo Shingage critiques, is universal theory that is failing to address some of our local social formations. My contention to this issue is that we do not have to forge the co-existence of Marxism with decolonial theories within SASCO. Marxism is the body of ideas embracing the unsustainability of capitalism, whilst black radical thought focuses on redressing and inquiring the colonial issues in academia and society without any aspiration to end the exploitative and alienation system of capitalism.

Prishani pointed out that through her academic journey she heeded a lesson from Latin Americans politics. She identified that Latin America’s social groups did not proclaim intellectual haughtiness and they do not reject alternative perspective. As Ruth First never rejected alternative perspective without proving what was flawed with that perspective. Hers is to assert that decolonial ideas need to engaged with – not rejected without subjecting them to deep theoretical discussion. In her engagement with Archie Mafeje about the 1976 students, when he was a University of Cape Town lecturer. Mafeje showed that 1976 was a failure struggle because students did not have a clear plan of action and strategic and tactics. But Ruth First gave a counter-intellectual response by saying that you do need to engage revolutionary theory to understand the struggle. I believe that the struggle and society questions arose from our subjective processes and sharpening of contradictions.

This is to confirm that revolutionary impulses are not innate characteristics of the students. This is to say that, revolutionary theories are not rooted within every student, but at the same time we do have to reject the theory as our tool to produce answers or generate questions for the status quo. For example, we need to be honest with ourselves, Marxism was imported from Moscow to South Africa. This it is seen through the 1960s and 1980s SACP left thinkers taking every resolution of the International Communist Party without questioning its universality in dealing with our social formation. Though some leaders like Moses Kotana, Nzala Nxumalo etc attempted to localise Marxists theory but one cannot confirm that it was a failure or sucess. Since today we continue to have an Unresolved National Question!!!! Forgetting that NDR and Freedom Charter had been there for racial dismantling and economic redresssing.

Last 2016 #FeesMustFall movement, students presented paradigm shift, moving away from #FreeQualityEducation to #FreeDecolonisedEducation. This paradigm shift was influenced theoretically by Africans Student Movement (PASMA) at University of the Witwatersrand. In conversation with Prishani, she pointed out that during their time of activism PASMA was not around the University of the Witwatersrand. The emergence of PASMA made a turning point for the #FeesMustFall because they insisted on locating their political subjectivity (the relationship they have with themselves throughout the struggle) and their ideological foundation (their guiding set of ideas) in the presence of SASCO with its Marxism-Leninism. It is clear that SASCO leadership struggle to locate Marxism-Leninism in the current debates about post-1994 and racial capital ownership. I have to acknowledge that SASCO proclaim to Marxist-Leninist organisation without being really Marxists or Leninist organisation in character. Knowing that ideology at some point intervenes in consciousness and subject formation—this results in the sharpening of contradictions.

Walter Rodney in his masterpiece book “How European Underdevelop Africa” he made quite an interesting argument that colonisation informed capitalism. Because in process of colonisation Europeans automatically transferred capitalism to Africa. Capitalism was transferred in the process of establishing local administration. Learning from Keletso Atkins “Kafir Time: Preindustrial Temporal Concepts and Labour Discipline In Nineteenth-Century Colonial Natal” she made an interesting argument that the British manipulated African culture to fit in the development of capitalism—this happened through the establishment of the missionary school. For example, Zulu society was made to understand time in European context. Here religion became a vehicle for disseminating culture. Without contradictory logic, this is also to show weakness of those calling for decolonial theories and divorcing Marxism theory that rejects capitalism.

Let’s pause and revisit Dr Ahmed and Prishani 2016 latter to “A letter to student militants” they made an interesting argument and reflection #FeesMustFall movement and suppressing of engagements they argued that:

“To be clear, there are tremendous challenges in facilitating discussions amongst thousands of students in an open space. And, while attempts were made in the direction of democratisation, both in the massive meetings in October 2015 and later in the smaller collective that met as #FeesMustFall in subsequent months, this process always remained uneven or with there being little will to ensure that everyone was allowed to speak.” They further made an intriguing argument by saying that “This was not only a problem amongst the leadership but within the student body too undemocratic practices of heckling and the shouting down of unpopular positions were present.”

The reality is that the movement was too undemocratic and this resulted in the emergence of #TakeBackWits. This was a small group of students who formed their movement to counter #FeesMustFall. However, this group of #TakeBackWits said to be agreeing with the #FeesMustFall but disagreeing with its strategy of shutting down University and disruption of classes. Our group #FeesMustFall failed to engage and counter charge this small group they refrained from the space of engagement and resort to heckling, playing a race card and booming them. This can best be attributed to the failure of students to engaging with revolutionary theories and the movement was stripped of ideology to guide the protest. Hence, I will never encourage SASCO to learn from the series of #FeesMustFall. Because undemocratic organisation with Marxism or decolonial theory is unless.

Finally, our dismissal of revolutionary theories has resulted in the outcome of stripping the movement of ideology—a collective set of ideas. At the same time attributing SASCO to be a Marxist-Leninist organisation by virtue of its resolution is just other form of rhetorical device wanting to sound radical but void of consolidating the radical left voice. However, we can learn from Ruth First at the same time: that every revolution begins by asserting often fairly minimalist, immediate demands and the full confrontation with state power gradually expands to a full-scale a full scale struggle – one that needs theory. But this will happen when we aallow the contestation of ideas—meaning that we will allow the convincing of one another other and reject intellectual superiority and heckling of other people’s opposing ideas to our ideas. People should stop debating a cross factional lines and debate ideas. I don’t reject decolonial theories, but I am a self-proclaimed Marxist who is receptive to other ideas as lRuth First was.

By Nyiko Ashley Mabasa, SASCO member and Wits YCL Secretary

My reaction to the State of the Nation address

     Related image

Famous of Karl Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach in 1845 said that, “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it.” It is also the task of President Cyril Ramaphosa to change South Africa and make a better country by creating inclusive economy, the colour-blind economy. Listening to SONA, President Cyril Ramaphosa revived our hope and gave us reasonable expectation as we listen to his state of the nation address (SONA). Though in his address he would not address everything under the sun but those who listened attentively they will note that there are some of the things we can place in question, from the issue of re-industrialization, the youth employment and land redistribution.

The first thing which I was anticipating from our President Cyril’s address was the assurance of free education and stabilization of health system.  President Cyril touched on those critical issues, however, he did elaborate how the free education will be sustained and implemented except saying that the minister of finance will surely seek funds for free education and has already started catering for the poor and the working-class children with the collective income of R350 000 in the family.

Our President and the ANC must defend free education at the same time must avoid plunging our universities into a crisis of declining of quality like Brazil public Universities. Looking from the Brazil model of free education, whereby federal public universities are funded primarily by the poor and working-class majority through value-added taxes. As a consequent, this laid a burden to the poor and give a leeway to the rich acknowledging the high inequality of Brazil this also apply in South Africa with 0.7 Gin Co-efficiency of inequality.

In addition, the quality of our high education system is important for our country to grow the economy and fight against poverty and inequality. Therefore, our government must maintain the quality of South Africa’s universities and avoid the routes which was taken by Brazilians of establishing free education and overlooking of the quality of universities. In Brazil students that attend public universities often lack electricity, water, and toilet paper because the government is unable to pay its suppliers.

Our president also spoke of an expropriating of land without compensation. Knowing that South Africa experienced history of apartheid-colonialism. Black people have been derived from their land since 1913. Though it has been the weakness of our ANC in the post-apartheid South Africa not to address the issue of land distribution.

Moreover, our president emphasized the point that expropriation of land without compensation must be applied with the rationale of increasing the productivity and food security. Surely, our government must insure that our production of food and food security continues through empowering youth to embark on agricultural sector. But this must not deviate us from our expropriation of land with compensation because it is not fair that only 2% of white families own about 80% of the land.[1]  It is problematic that between 1994 and 2003, only 3% of the total agricultural land was returned noting that restitution, measured against the stated target of 30%.[2]  Though, our president did not speak of sustain our environment and mitigation steps towards making sure that of the environment remain protected from degradation.

It is important that we re-industrialized and localize our economic system as our president have said. Acknowledging that our country’s industrialization has been declining for example around 2005 there was approximately 200 000 people in the clothing textile industry and now we are down to about 19 000. As our textile manufacturing sectors have been shutting down as they can stand the competition with the huge import of China’s products which are sold cheaper in South Africa.  Our president did not elaborate how industrialization will take place except that will happen through manufacturing and localizing of our economy.

Furthermore, our president cited that the government has spent R50 billion in boosting local production. He further contended that industrialization and transformation must go hand in glove through Black Economic Empowerment. Though, the issue of Black economic empowerment has been about buying shares of white companies since 1994. Our government must establish the state bank which will facilitate government payments and must restructure BEE to be entreated to build the business from the ground instead of buying white businesses.

Our country to reindustrialize they must unbundle the economic system to the rural areas. Though president Ramaphosa did not speak of the plans to unbundle our economic system. For our country to reindustrialize the rate of growth of the electricity-intensive-goods-producing industries such as mines and steel firms must significantly increase. As Rob Jeffrey highlighted that if the growth of the electricity-intensive-goods-producing this will:

” Energy and electricity will never again be cheap, but for higher economic growth there has to be the security of supply of electricity at competitive prices. Unfortunately, economic growth models based on relatively low electricity growth forecasts become self-fulfilling prophecies.”[3]

Youth Unemployment appears is a clear ticking bomb since 1994. StatsSA early this year revealed that unemployment rate of 52.2% for youths aged between 15 and 24, and 35.5% for those between 25 and 34.[4]  In line with our President state of the nation address, he posited a clear plan for eradicating the youth unemployment. Our president spoke of initiating the summit whereby workers, trade unions, and businesses will strategically engage in how to create jobs for the youth of South Africa.  This will happen through Employment tax initiative to draw the youth in the workplace and through internships, apprenticeship, and mentorship programs. As well, it is strategic for our government to start involving our communities to deal with the unemployment problem.

Finally, our president speech was reviving and give hope that under his government radical economic transformation will happen. His determination to fight against corruption and his love for education, give a hope that he truly wants to build the inclusive economic growth and revive our economy.

 

By Ashley Mabasa

[1] Shivambu, Floyd 2014;” The coming Revolution.”

[2] Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, 2014: “ANC reclaims its central mission— land.”

 

[3] Rob Jeffrey is managing director and senior economist of Econometrix

[4] StatsSA, 2018 January

 

http://mokwena.com/my-reaction-to-the-state-of-the-nation-address-sona/

The Nature of South Africa’s National democratic Revolution

The rise national bourgeoisie in the former colonised states is the centrepiece of this paper. Flowing from each conceiving of distinguished theorists, from Fanon 1963 “Pitfall of national Consciousness” to David Masondo 2007 “Capitalism and racist forms of political domination” reached different narrative about the contemporary South Africa. Acknowledging the fact that Frantz Fanon prophesied about post-colonialized countries such as South Africa. I argues the rise of the black capitalists in South Africa. Southall (2004) defined them as the black bourgeoisie whereas Fanon defined them as the former national liberators premised as a middle class and the nationalist.[1]

What is the national bourgeoisie?

The term national bourgeoisie found expression around the debate of National Democratic Revolution [NDR]. The common expression is that the NDR advocated for radically transformation and restructuring of the capitalist society. Chipkin pointed out that “working class that deemed the veritable bearer of the National Democratic Revolution. Other classes (Petit bourgeois, and peasants) may have shared a common (short term) interest with the working class”.[2] In other words, according to Chipkin the NDR theory pushes for the working class not the bourgeoisie. Whereas Goven Mbeki asserted that NDR will usher the black bourgeoisie.[3] The conception of NDR is contested because Blade Nzimande argued that NDR and Freedom Charter was not the socialist document envisage radical change of the society itself.

However, according to Fanon there are different versions of national bourgeoisie or middle class.[4] First bourgeoisie is the ‘authentic national middle class’ which betrays the capitalism and dedicate itself in the service of the people he further argues that authentic national bourgeoisie/middle class “put at the people’s disposal the intellectual and technical capital that has snatched when going through the colonial university”.[5] On the contrary second version of the middle class Fanon (1963) clearly put it as the middle class/national bourgeoisie that does not follow the purpose of the masses instead the orients their gluttony and self-interest. As Southall pragmatically described the national bourgeoisie as the ‘depressing litany.’[6]

Contingency of Republic of Native Thesis 1928

The essence of the Native republic thesis as a one- or a two-phase process with a workers/peasant republic as a stage towards socialism and the second phase would facilitated by the NDR such republic in the second phase. Hence, Southall argues that under apartheid, capitalism reproduced the existence of intermediate black classes for example doctors, teachers, lawyers and petty business operators. However, Southall in other words argues that the black bourgeoisie in South Africa existed in the waves of apartheid. The critically discussion of pre-black bourgeoisie found expression in the 1928 Republic African Native thesis [ANT] and 1949 ANC Plan of Action.

The 1928 African Native thesis contended that black people must have self-determination. By self-determination they talk of black national whereby black people own South Africa’s means of production, land and take charge of their labour production and skills. The 1928 ANT argues that British capitalists perpetuate to occupy the essential economic positions in the country (banks, mining, and industry), and further conceded that “since the South African bourgeoisie is equally interested in the merciless exploitation of negro population”. The outcome of the national bourgeoisie is/was premised within the liberation movement.

Fanon predicted that the black bourgeoisie emerges within the ranks of nationalists or national party and the anti-colonial movement. The ANC assigning itself to NDR political program and pushing for the mixed-economy as it is underpinned in the ANC 1988 Constitution guidelines that organisation is committed in the “mixed economy, the belief that a strong centralized state is necessary to regulate and control the economy…”  As Southall, practically showed that the emergence of the black bourgeoisie is justified in the organisation [ANC]. Let pause and scientific diagnose what Southall asserted whether it is scientifically justifiable, in 1999 president Thabo Mbeki during the address to the Black Management Forum [BMF] in 1999, declared:

“the struggle against racism in our country must include the objective of creating a black bourgeoisie…I would like to urge, very strongly, that we abandon our embarrassment about the possibility of the emergence of successful and therefore prosperous black owners of the productive property.”[7]

The project of advancing the black bourgeoisie/middle class is political driven deals, because in 1994-1997 black business noted that about 10% of shares on Johannesburg Stock Exchange [JSE].[8] However, the South Africa’s wealth is individualised because those owns the shares of 10% during 1999 at JSE was black individuals. In other ways this was the onset of the black bourgeoisie the so-called the middle class. Fanon critically argues that “since the middle classes find it impossible to set up factories that would be more profit –earning both for them and for the country as a whole).[9] This is to argue that the national bourgeoisie dismally fails to redistributes the wealth to the population as whole.

The brief history of BEE

As I have shown that in 1980s National Party government made relaxation of racial laws. The capitalism mode of production could not rely on only white people and white business people started calling for the government clampdown the “reserved-labour or job-reserved” and allow black people to be focused in the semi-skilled and skilled labour production with lower rates of pay than aristocratic white working class.

In other hand, the apartheid government embarked on economic reform. The idea was to try to minimize the resistance and widen the beneficiaries of the  apartheid in order to protect the apartheid policies. This was made in 1980s when the apartheid government started loosening certain circumscriptions of the black businesses in the township and culminated into creation of the black elites in the Bantustans. Surely these emerging middle class could become political ally of the National Party. In other words, this was the beginning of the black empowerment by the National Party and this resulted in creation of the national middle class.

In terms of the post-apartheid state, the black economic empowerment was anticipated and in the seminal work of RDP policy document the BEE aims were outlined as was uttered:

The domination of business activities by white business and the exclusion of black people and women from the mainstream of economic activity are causes for great concern for reconstruction and development process. A central objective of RDP is to deracialise business ownership and control completely through focused policies of Black Economic Empowerment.”[10]

However, Sanlam made first move in 1993 by selling 10 per cent of its holdings in Metropolitan Life to a black empowerment consortium. This was followed by several deals which were made by white businesses. By 1998, there was a significant progress was reached. In 1994, for instance, only 0,5 per cent of the business shares in the JSC registered campanies had owned by black investors and in 1998, it was estimated that 20per cent was reached. Surely, the government was dedicated in creating black elites whereby in 1995, BEE deals accounted for 38,7 per cent on the JSE.

The introduction of Black Economic Empowerment [BEE] second phases in 1998 which embraced and empowered the black owned private property either the business through the direct state intervention. The common expression is that BEE was meant to deracialise the economy.[11] Fanon conceded that “since the middle class find it impossible to set up factories…” this means that the middle class sought to safeguard the foreign owned property. Nevertheless, Peter Hudson argued that the creation of the middle class intends to buffer between the white monopoly capitals and the capitalism mode of production. Since the liberation movement the ANC captured the power they have been advancing the creating of the national middle class. Here below the table shows the rise of the middle class/national bourgeoisie in South Africa:

Names of National Bourgeoisie Company
 

Matthews Phosa (Former Premier of Mpumalanga)

 

BMW, ABSA, KPMG and Ruslyn Mininig and Waterburg coal mine and Plant Hire

 

Cyril Ramaphosa (Former NUM and the ANC deputy president)

 

MTN, SABMiller, Standard Bank, Shanduka Investment Co. Alexander Forbes

 

Popo Molefe (Former North West premier)

 

Sun International and Leroko Investment

 

Sakie Macozoma (former ANC MP, and Director of Transnet)

 

Stalin Group, Standard Bank, VW SA, Murray and Roberts, Liso, Investment Vehicle and Safika

Bongani Khumalo (Former CEO of Transnet and Chief Executive of Eskom)  

The Chair of the Gidani (Lotto) Consortium, Director of JHI Real Estate

Mafika Mkwanazi (Former CEO of Transnet)  

Chair of Letseng Diamonds, Orlyfunt Holdings and Inkwenkwezi Gold Mine

Mzi Khumalo (Former ANC regional treasurer in KwazuluNatal)  

Pan-African Mining Group

The Gupta family, Atul Gupta

(President Zuma’s Friends)

 

The New Age. Business interests in mining, resources, aviation and technology, Sahara Computers, Oakbay Investments.

All the national bourgeoisie/middle class mentioned above are former anti-colonial that emerged from the nationalists’ movement the ANC. This appeals to the argument made by F    anon that the national bourgeoisie during the colonial times they mobilize the people with the name of independence. With the same token, Cyril Ramaphosa was National Union of Mineworkers’ (NUM) leader pre-1994 and mobilized the worker against the apartheid. The emergence of the BEE, which represents an individualisation of redistribution and redress, created the rise of the national bourgeoisie/middle class.

Fanon perception of national bourgeoisie and its critique

Fanon (1961) talks of the nationalisation of the economy in the post-colonial era. He argues that the “national middle class consistently demands the nationalisation of the economy and the trading sectors.” This argument precede-over Southall argument that South Africans must own the 51% of the mines in South Africa by 2009,[12] however, the redistributions of mining mineral is individualised. Fanon explicitly describe the nationalisation as the “transfer into the native hands of those unfair disadvantages.”[13] And he further argues that nationalisation and Africanization of the ruling class[14]. However, linking Fanon’s argument with Southall is that ANC advocated for the nationalisation of mines and monopoly industries whereas at the same time pushes the emergence and the rise of the few national bourgeoisies.[15]

However, Fanon pointed out the shortcomings of the national bourgeoisie by contending that they do not have the revolutionary character. Fanon critically discussed that the black middle class will lead the economy to the economic-stagnation because they lack experience of running the economy. On contrast this middle class consult and their advisers are settlers. This argument link to the argument by Southall when he conceded that consultant of change began to emerge in the 1980s, and further characterised them as ‘combining black skins with slivery tongues they promote themselves by helping whites business to adjust to political change.

Fanon succinctly highlighted that “The national bourgeoisie sells itself increasingly openly to the major foreign companies. Foreigners grab concessions through kickbacks, scandals abound, ministers get rich, their wives become floozies, members of the legislature line their pockets, and everybody, down to police officers and customs officials, joins hands in this huge caravan of corruption”.[16] Fanon’s discourse of the black/national bourgeoisie pragmatically link to the contemporary South Africa. The sophisticated corruption within the government. Fanon critically argues that the national bourgeoisie will protect the Western structure, this is to say the 2012 Marika massacre is the practically example of the Fanon prediction. This shows the rise of the national bourgeoisie which rise in the expense of the poor majority.

Conversely, Fanon correctly discussed that “in a certain number of underdeveloped countries the parliamentary game is faked from the beginning”.[17] However, this reflect to the nature of our democratic system in South Africa. The question that can be posed here is whether South Africa’s parliament produces/passes the laws that advocates for the creation of the bourgeoisie democracy as stipulated in the NDR.

The national bourgeoisie are commonly described as the patriotic bourgeoisie. According to Fanon the national bourgeoisie collude with the Western bourgeoisie at the midst tourist. Southall pragmatically argues that the South African national bourgeoisie emerges within the ANC, which by essence Fanon talks of the nationalists’ paradigm and the liberation movement within the premise of decolonisation. Fanon’s (1963) analyses however prevail to be what South Africa it is contemporary.

BEE without patriotism is like Veneer of a self-hate

Without being complicit to a fleabag pride that trapped our brothers into praising and worshiping the black excellence without patriotism. Patriotism merely means the love of your country, without defeating social contract and nature of law. For many years’ black people subjugated into colonization and apartheid system that was defeated in 1994. Though our country is holding an economic colonialism that resulted into neo-colonisation which is not predestined to be corrected by the return of the Jesus Christ but the people themselves have a forceful duty fix the direst colonization and apartheid formation.

Since 1994, black people at least have been presiding over state entities and privately owned businesses. But since the release of Public Protectors’ report pertaining the “State Capture,” I was persuaded that the eddies of corruption it is flooding within the public owned entities with the costume of black excellence and void of patriotism became the normal order of the day.

The “State Capture” was a confirmation of what was already in the public domain, that our leaders have turned into a Kleptocratic servants that turned government into institutional and organizational plutocratic form of governance. The report showed how the President’s son Duduzani Zuma, ESKOM CEO Brain Molefe, government ministers and the Indian family Guptas involved in a corrupt deal and obliterating president prerogative to deploy ministers. Gupta family has already made a transaction that is close to R7 billion within five years from public owned entities that are funded by fiscal revenue of tax payer money.

Stripped of this basic black excellence that emerged as BEE since 1996 and formation of a national bourgeoisie/middle class, the term patriotism has mostly become a crudely convenient and vacuous self-anointed attribute that hide corruption and self-enrichment with the what is ‘patriotism’. The reality is that the BEE it is eddies for the creation of political elites and state elites since the BEE was replayed by ZEE (Zuma Economic Empowerment) as Dr.David Masondo eluded in 2012.

Today for a black mass, living does not embody moral values and taking their place in a fruitful development of the world. The post-apartheid government has normalized the case that for black people to live means keep existing every day is a triumph of life not as a result of work but victory felt as a triumph of life. Whereas themselves black middle class, they live a life with victories of corruption and enriching their families and friends.

Those who praises the song of corruption and sing for supper, they are supposedly evolving into nothing if not incestuous. Thus for example, the former Member of Executive Council (MEC) Smut Ngonyama, then the head of Thabo Mbeki’s office in the ANC made it clear that he did not go to struggle to agonize, as he articulates: “I did not join the struggle to be poor.”[18] This shows that there is no patriotism where there is a soul of corruption.

Supposedly, the national middle class and the state elites failed to understand the struggle their fought under the banner of nationalism that rallied all black masses to defeat colonialism and apartheid. Let’s remind them, the struggles were essentially about dismantling the yoke of political and economic subjugation of the black masses—notwithstanding the case of Du Bois’s conceptualisation of the colour-line as a problem.

Looking at this phenomenon, essential, Du Bois watching from his grave, Du Bois must be contented to view that black folk all over Africa have to be unlocked from colonialism and apartheid and that his country the United States had led by a black president. That by the time Du Bois was writing was a like quixotic dream in the 1800s.

At the same time, Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, and Thomas Sankara must be heartbroken to see how his black folk on the African continent have frolicsome the political freedom gained at the cost and blood masses and its leaders. This happens under the name of African nationalism and black excellence without patriotism.

When the ESKOM CEO Brian Molefe was found that he was closely working with Gupta family and awarded them with the coal deal that worth about R1billion and that automatically makes him be corrupt as black comprador. Voices of denial turn out to a shrillest from the black middle class without patriotism. They call those who sought to be critical of their strategic and tactic framework “agents of white monopoly capital” and the unpatriotic. This is yet, another symptom which nationalist use to justify corruption.

Wondering why South Africa is a society with a high rate of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. Central to these dim of problems, the nationalists catered tax-payers’ money to Guptas and their family. This poses a question itself, where these bulk of the poor, and unemployed should go?

The use of nationalism idea it is used to scheme the masses and minimizes the revolt of the black masses in the post-apartheid against the corrupt state. Not to dismiss the fact that nationalism ideology was fruitful ideology that rallied oppressed nations to defeat colonialism and apartheid. It’s the same white monopoly capital that fronts the black nationalists with a void of patriotism. The reality is that Anglo owns 60% of South Africa’s economy, followed from Sanlam 10% and the state elites preside over 30% of the economy. Apparently here politicians own the means of administration within the state apparatuses.

Correspondingly, this black excellence exists in a horizon distances of the people. Mainly because does not empower the masses but enforced to praise and defend the structural neo-liberalism policies. This supposed to be a case, since the governing party the ANC, it is driven by comprador bourgeoisie. For instance, Mail and Guardian in 2005 exposed how the government oil company, PetroSA under so-called black excellence by Sandi Majali head irregularly made an advance payment of R15million to Imvume Management for a supply of oil condensate source from a neo-liberal capitalist Swiss Company, Glencore. At the same time, Imvume diverted R11 million of the sum of the ANC ahead of the 2004 general election.

Black excellence without corruption but enriched with patriotism and empowering of the masses that would be commendable and serve the authentic moral transformative agenda. This will automatically challenge poverty, inequality and unemployment.

It is very intrinsic, to look at black people praising song of corruption and subjugated to pay for patronage as a reward of defending corruption. I can imagine how du Boise and Frantz Fanon are disappointed in their grave over the youth of South Africa today.

As youth what have we done to deserve this kind of leadership without patriotism and the love for their country? The only liberate for these shackles of poverty, unemployment, inequality, poverty and corruption is the masses themselves as Frantz Fanon alluded that each generation out of obscurity had to discover its mission to fulfil and destroy it. All these lied in our hands to fight corrupt and unpathetic leaders.

 Ashley Mabasa, Wits YCLSA secretary

Reference

[1] Fanon 1963: “The wretched of the earth”

[2] Chipkin, 2003: 31 “South African Nation”

[3] Mbeki, 1991 “What I have learn in Robben Island”

[5] David Masondo, 2007.

[6] Southall 2004, p317 “The ANC for sale? Money, Morality and Business in South Africa.”

[18] The Economist. ‘Hold your Nose: The Smell of Corruption.’ 3 June 2010