What are my observations about the Anti-Zuma marches on Friday, 7 April 2017?
On 6 April 1652 Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape of Good Hope to set up a half way station for the ships of the Dutch East India Company. He immediately built a fortification around the landing party, with the guns pointing outwards – the first piece of private corporate owned real estate in South Africa. Inside the fort van Riebeeck tried to replicate Europe, guns point outwards to protect this little piece of Europe fenced off on the African continent from Africans themselves.
Prior to this act all land in the area today known as South Africa was part of the social commons, communal land managed by San KhoiSan, Sotho/Tswana and Nguni Nations spread across the interior from South to North and East to West.
On 7 April 2017, 365 years later Cape Town, Johannesburg, Ethekwini and Tshwane sees some of the biggest anti government in the post-1994 history of South Africa. The marchers are mainly middle class people from all race and language groups. Many marching because they fear for their ‘investment’ in real estate, given the economic downgrade of the country by ‘ratings agencies’.
They march to protect their ‘homes’ surrounded by security fences and walls, guns pointing outwards to protect these enclaves of ‘civilisation’, wealth and prosperity from the masses of the homeless, the poor and the unemployed. Yet the real estate they so jealously protect mostly belongs to the banks who they are heavily indebted to. Easy solution would be to nationalise the banks and socialise the real estate, this would certainly reduce the nervous tensions of the middle classes and lift the burden of bank loans and indebtedness from the shoulders of this class.
But how did we get to this point post 1652, post 1994? Allow me some controversial observations:
1) Corruption and state capture is inevitable within the context of the current organisation of government and the state.
2) The deliberate outsourcing of the functions of government and the state as a central program of the neo-liberal agenda of the ruling party since 1994 to consultants and contractors through the tender process has created the prefect platform for corruption to thrive. The state is the biggest consumer of goods and services, and in the scramble to stabilise capitalism (ward off socialist revolution) by building a black middle class through this process of privatising the state is at the root of corruption in our society. To win tenders one must corrupt civil servants and politicians. Corruption in South Africa will be a systemic inevitability regardless of which party is in power and who is the president.
3) Not a single post 1994 administration has been without corruption. But then not a single post 1652 administration has been without corruption, and the industrial mining revolution post 1866 only deepened all forms of corruption.
I wish to say a few things regarding the ruling party.
1) The biggest political opposition to the ruling party is the ruling party itself.
2) Every change in government nationally, provincially and locally since 1994 has been an ANC change of government, yet the incumbents behaved like they defeated the previous incumbents almost as if those previous incumbents were from a different political party or organisation. Yet we have only had ANC administrations since 1994.
3) As a result, the ANC has been peeling off, layer by layer like an onion. Almost every new opposition party of any significance since 1994 has peeled off from the ANC, Bantu Holomisa’s UDM; Terror Lekota’s COPE; Malema’s EFF, Mampela Ramphela from Agang, and now possibly Pityana’s Save South Africa.
4) While the ANC factions are playing musical chairs so as to rearrange the deck chairs of governance, the opposition parties play reactive catch-up politics.
5) The factions in the ANC are made up of those who have eaten (Mbeki supporters, BEE beneficiaries of the old mining and banking companies); those who are eating (Zuma supporters, beneficiaries of ESKOM and the Guptas); and those who are still waiting to eat (the ANC Youth League). The eating arrangements are informed by the nature of the state as an empty shell, unable to deliver any goods or services other than through a tender process as discussed above.
The problem is that once everyone has eaten from the feats provided by the state, one has to consider ‘life after politics’ and it is expected that the private sector having benefited from the largess of certain politicians and civil servants must absorb these same politicians and civil servants as BEE shareholders and beneficiaries. Such is the nature of the client capitalist state. The problem is that the country is highly monopolised and the room for private sector absorbtion very limited… hence the fear of old corporations that the current government is threatening their dominance of the economy by “corruptly” bringing in new entrants. The current crop of politicians are looking at 2019 and see no room for themselves in the private sector, the politicians of previous administrations are seeing a wave of new entrants into the business world from the political stage having to share ever fewer crumbs. Tension and conflict erupts.
6) These faction fights are portrayed to the public as fights by those for and against corruption, for and against state capture, for and against transformation, for and against economic freedom. Yet these things are all diversion that deflects the attention of the masses away from the real challenges that face our society: (a) the land question; (b) inequality and poverty; (c) the health and education question; (d) economic revolution (note that I refrain from using the term economic freedom).
7) Why the deflection? (a) Because not one of the factions in the ruling party is prepared to challenge the capitalist private ownership of land distribution. They simply want to bring land under the ownership of a wealthy business and political elite. Only nationalising and socialising the land can bring about equal access to the land. (b) The inequality and poverty challenges cannot be addressed by market capitalism. The very principles of the private accumulation of capital and maximizing profits is predicated on the concentration of wealth in society and on growing inequality. (c) Economic revolution implies the radical transformation of the economy, Not the economic freedom of a black minority business elite replacing a white minority business elite.
Economic revolution also does not mean limited “equality of opportunity” but means substantive economic equality of all citizens. Equality of opportunity is meaningless in a substantially unequal society. Economic Freedom in Zumanomics simply suggests freedom from foreign domination of the economy by the West, but imposing economic domination from the East (BRICS).
Economic revolution means freedom from all foreign domination.
The most hillarious part of the various marches was the march by big fat business guys in blue DA T shirts marching after their golf balls at the Greenside golf course on Friday morning. No doubt they had instructed their employees to go and march in their stead. Whether you marched or not is somehow immaterial given that it is an agenda set by the competing factions of the ruling party between those who have eaten, those eating and those still wanting to eat.
I will put on my red T shirt, dust off my red flag and put on my takkies when the working class decides to march against capitalism and all its institutions including parliament and the entire legal political superstructure, the corporations, the banks, the mines, the agro-industries, the wholesaler and the retailers, and everywhere where exploitation is planned or where it happens. Such a march would demand that workers take control of all productive property and turn such into part of the social commons for the benefit of all.