This is an appeal to the branches and progressive section of the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and more especially the delegates to the 5th National Policy Conference of the ruling party. The plea of Black First Land First (BLF) to the ANC in short is, “please don’t sell us out again!” Our country is at the crossroads. Great opportunities now exist for a great “leap forward” so as to give content to the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) agenda. However, there are also great dangers facing all the progressive and revolutionary forces of our nation. We believe that the first act towards the realisation of RET is to recognise the present period as characterised by heightened imperialist aggression on the progressive peoples and leaders the world over. The global imperialist war manifests as a fight back by white monopoly capital in South Africa. White monopoly capital is not a myth. It is one of the most deadly fronts of imperialism with the objective of maintaining global white domination.
The consequence of this realisation (that we are facing an imperialist attack) is the need to close ranks by all patriotic and anti-imperialist forces, irrespective of any narrow differences. Recognizing that the best form of defence against imperialism is radical economic transformation which must of necessity have a direct positive impact in the lives of the majority of the popular classes and strata in society that is, workers, peasants, the unemployed, women, youth, students, black middle class and the precarious aspirant patriotic black bourgeois. Failure to rapidly, and in a sustained way, meet the basic needs of the popular classes and strata serves to surrender this important social force to reactionary forces. To break up the imperialist momentum, the ANC policy conference must pronounce unequivocally on the side of RET.
Who are we?
Black First Land First (BLF) is an anti-imperialist formation essentially concerned with black liberation through the defeat of the global system of white supremacy which in the economic sphere, manifests as white monopoly capital (WMC). We recognize that global white supremacy reproduces itself through pro imperialist regime changes which in turn is organised through the manipulation of civil society; bribing and sponsoring opposition parties as well as sections of the ruling party; and the brazen deployment of mass misinformation campaigns so as to turn the popular classes against progressive leaders and their governments. We further note that the triumph of the pro imperialist forces leads to the collective ruin of all. We therefore require a collective response of all, so as to ensure our collective survival as well as our national sovereignty.
A progressive response to imperialism was provided by Mao Tse Tung during China’s anti imperialist war against Japan. Mao teaches us that during an imperialist attack differences as they may exist amongst the people including their organisations, become a secondary contradiction which is superseded by the primary contradiction of imperialist invasion. If imperialism triumphs as in the regime change calls, then the forward march of history would be arrested. However, an imperialist crisis also opens up the opportunity to undertake a radical social and political process so as to address the historical challenges facing the people. The phase that we currently find ourselves in in South Africa (SA) presents both aspects – the danger of imperialist domination or the opportunity for Radical Economic Transformation.
Our first message to the ANC branches and the policy conference delegates is, we need to recognise that:
1. 1994 “democratic break through” did not signify the end of white supremacy. The 23 years of democracy bears testimony to this truth.
2. The consequence of the above is the total domination by WMC of all segments of the economy and society.
3. Since economic power in the “final analysis” determines the true nature of society it means ipso facto SA is a racist anti black society, notwithstanding formal declarations to the contrary.
4. Central to the above observations is the truth that the black majority is a people detached from their territory through land dispossession – therefore, we blacks are tenants in our own land.
5. The rights of tenants are determined by the landlords. In the past 23 years black lives have been determined by the desires of those who, de facto, hold our territory.
6. The imperialist attack is calculated to entrench the anti black status quo that is meant to keep the black majority in bondage.
RET is the Solution!
To break free from the stranglehold of WMC and imperialism there is only one real solution and that is, Radical Economic Transformation. One must not bargain with imperialism! One must vanquish imperialism by uprooting it at the base and crushing its branches completely. There can be no accommodation with forces representing imperialism and WMC.
Key elements of RET
There is a deliberate widespread feigning of ignorance by opponents of transformation about what RET is about. Here are the key elements of RET that we need to keep in mind:
1. Land expropriation without compensation.
2. Nationalisation of banks, insurance companies and mines.
3. Nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
4. Establishment of state banks.
5. Free decolonised quality education.
6. Universal access to free quality healthcare for all
7. Employment through national reconstruction.
Any honest observer would recognise that there is currently a deep contestation within the ruling party on the policy direction that must be undertaken. On the one hand, the President of the country has provided a clear direction in terms of a progressive agenda as summarised in the 2017 State of the Nation Address (SONA). The progressive direction was encapsulated in the unequivocal commitment to “land expropriation without compensation” as foundational to reconciliation and justice. This clarity has alarmed white monopoly capital. The President has furthermore called for black unity to realise land restoration. This is pivotal for black emancipation. The President, in the same SONA, provided a framework towards realising the RET.
On the other side of the divide, are representatives of imperialism inside the ANC who are working to defend the pro white monopoly capital status quo. These elements have been brazen and open with their agenda of targeting the President and working openly with the reactionary London controlled opposition parties. These same forces have been openly giving support to calls for regime change and a coup to reinforce the domination of WMC. They have coalesced around the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. These pro imperialist forces inside the ANC have worked hard to undermine the turn towards RET. They understand that President Zuma is today the embodiment of a radical agenda, hence the concerted efforts to remove him and to sabotage his vision. The ideological strategy of this pro WMC faction is to deny the very existence of WMC.
Defeat the imperialism faction!
There is no middle ground. The imperialist faction must be defeated, if RET is to become a reality. The timidity and ambiguous language permeating the current ANC policy discussion documents reflect the influence of the pro WMC faction. The cowardice of the agents of WMC inside the ANC can be corrected by the bravery of the branches. It is shameful to read how the ruling party is made to distance itself in the policy discussion documents from land expropriation without compensation or nationalisation of SARB. Most of the drafters of the discussion policy documents are committed to the current status qou and are opposed to the RET.
The pro WMC faction presents a mortal danger to the ANC and its hold to power. The electoral decline of the ANC in the metropolitan cities is a direct consequence of the pro WMC policies which the faction wants to maintain. This is a recipe for disaster. A clean break must be made with the neoliberal policies which have maintained white domination. The following picture has to change:
1. Only 35 000 white families and trusts own 80% of the land.
2. WMC owns 97% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
3. A white household earns 6 times more than a black one.
What is the primary stumbling block to economic transformation?
White monopoly capital hegemony
The single most important stumbling block to economic transformation is the hold on the economy by WMC. WMC is not a fictitious creation by spin doctors. It’s real! The South African economy is owned and controlled by a few white families. On top of that list are the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts.
White supremacy manifests as WMC in the economic sphere. Therefore, without ending WMC there is no possibility of liberation – not just economic liberation. The control of the economy by a few leads to the control of the whole state by the same few. The South African state is captured by WMC and it is doing everything to demonize and remove anyone who is pursuing Radical Economic Transformation or is seen as threatening the interests of the same WMC.
WMC is inherently corrupt
The power and influence derived from the control of the economy by WMC makes it inherently corrupt. WMC can do this with impunity because it de facto owns the state and the media.
The Competition Commission has been revealing the corrupt nature of WMC. To this end, 17 banks have been found to be corrupt. In December 2015 these banks disappeared R500 billion from the JSE within two days as part of the strategy of economic terrorism to pressurize President Zuma to appoint Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Finance. SA loses R60 billion annually to illegal capital flight by WMC. In 2007, a shocking 20% of the GDP was lost to illicit cash flows by WMC.
The leaked report of the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, also shows that ABSA is a direct beneficiary of theft from the SARB. The Ciex report, which was commissioned by former President Thabo Mbeki shows that over R26 billion was stolen by very specific white entities, including banks and the Rupert family.
WMC also controls law making. As we speak there are media speculations that a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) are captured by WMC so as to vote against President Zuma. This explains why the London controlled opposition parties are working so hard for a secret ballot. They know that there are ANC MPs who are bought by WMC. The legislature itself is under the influence of the same WMC.
What about the judiciary?
In April, 2017 Justine Lewis informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that even the courts are captured by WMC. Lewis presented shocking evidence indicating that Johann Rupert’s influence goes up to the office of the highest court in the land. He told the committee that in,
“2016 The Hawks judge approved an investigation especially with regard to the following concerns;
i) The allegations of extortion against the wheel chair bound widow by her SA bank in charge of protecting her pension left in trust for her late husband
ii) The alleged use of bribery of court officials
iii) The permission for access to evidence from the office of the chief justice re allegations of trial fixing, and the alleged protection of the banks and businessman Johan Rupert by the same office for obstructing the course of justice by refusing this access”
There is also the indirect control of the judiciary by virtue of the shared value system with the whole MWC complex.
What about the media?
The concentration of the media in the same few hands makes the South African media to be highly biased in favour of WMC. The white owned media is the bulldog of WMC. Anyone who is seen as a threat to the interests of WMC is demonized. We see it now with the unwarranted attacks on the Advisor to the Minister of Finance Professor Chris Malikane. All these shouldn’t surprise us because we know, to paraphrase Karl Marx, that the dominant ideas in any society are the ideas of the ruling class – the ruling class being those who own the means of production. In SA the ruling class is therefore WMC.
Impact of WMC
WMC domination has ensured systematic exclusion of blacks from the economy. This monopoly has ensured high unemployment on the one hand and high cost of living on the other hand through price fixing and other manipulations of the economy.
WMC, the biggest beneficiary of Tenders
At the 2017 SONA, President Zuma showed that the government spends R500 billion on procurement in a single financial year and another R900 billion on infrastructure. All this money ends up in the pockets of WMC but ironically it is the black businesses that are accused of corruption.
Here, the example of the South African Airways (SAA) is most instructive. The State Owned Entity (SOE), SAA, spends R24 billion annually on procurement. 98% of this R24 billion goes to white owned entities. This means blacks only get 2% of that figure. When the chairperson of the SAA Board, Mrs Dudu Myeni, tried to change this anomaly she was turned into an evil incompetent manager by the white owned media. The same goes for Brian Molefe and many other owners.
WMC shall never voluntarily let go of its control of the economy. It has to be compelled.
What is to be done?
Firstly, we must deal with the structural corruption of WMC. To this end the following must be effected:
1. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry on apartheid corruption informed amongst others by the CIEX report, must be instituted.
2. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the banks must be instituted. The terms of reference must include an inquiry into the closure of the Oakbay accounts.
3. A Judicial Commission of Inquiry on SAA, with specific regard to the role played by Coleman Andrews in creating the systematic problems of the national carrier, must be instituted.
4. The Competition Act must be amended to bring the penalties in line with the crimes committed by the offending parties. The current penalty system encourages corruption. To this end the offending parties must be penalized by the payment of 100% of the turnover for each year of transgression.
Radical Economic Transformation proposals
We call on the ANC to adopt the Malikane proposals. Professor Malikane has presented clear and rational proposals to give content to RET.
The Malikane proposals
If we hope to transform the financial sector and the economy, then we must adopt the following proposals.
A new National Economic Plan, which outlines how the following key demands can immediately be realised:
1. Expropriation of white monopoly capitalist establishments, such as banks, insurance companies, mines and other monopoly industries, to industrialise the economy.
2. Establishment of a state bank, which will consolidate all the state-owned financial institutions to facilitate affordable credit to the progressive class forces.
3. Nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank.
4. Expropriation of all land without compensation.
These measures will ensure the provision of free quality social services such as:
a. Free, quality and decolonised education
b. Free and quality healthcare – National Health Insurance
c. Improved quality housing, community infrastructure, etc.
d. Affordable and safe public transport
e. Affordable and reliable basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity
Reforming the Banking system
We call on the ANC delegates to resolve to transform the banking system through specific actions with clear deadlines, namely:
1. Establish fully licenced black banks such as Ithala, VBS and PostBank within a year.
2. Establish a state bank in each province within 12 months.
3. Immediately terminate all government accounts with ABSA.
4. Nationalise the SARB within 12 months.
5. Raise the percentage for black-owned businesses for procurement spent from government to 80% (set asides).
6. The state banking system must operate on the principle of “Interest Free Loans” to blacks.
Three Pillars of RET
RET has to be the instrument of the popular classes and not a weapon for the enrichment of a few. For this to happen, the following three guidelines must be observed:
1. Constitutional amendment/reform;
2. Mass direct action against WMC; and
3.Prioritisation of the poor and the working people to benefit from RET.
1. Constitutional amendment/reform
The call to amend section 25 of the Constitution to realise “land expropriation without compensation” must be supported without hesitation. There is national consensus that land must not be bought back. There is no historical, political or even economic reasons to oppose the call for the amendment of the Constitution so as to facilitate land return. This call has the support of the State President and therefore enough political support from within the state system.
2. Mass direct action
If we wait for politicians to resolve the land and economic questions, we would wait forever. The best way to support land redistribution and RET is to undertake mass direct action against WMC and land thieves. The reactionary defenders of the status qou have increasingly mobilised for the control and hegemony over mass protests. All counter revolutionary processes seek to legitimise themselves through mass protests. It’s a mistake to surrender mass direct action to the reactionary forces. Mass action for land return, through land occupations by the popular forces, is the best form of action to give impetus to the call for constitutional reform. Furthermore, land occupation help to build a mass movement at the base which is self-actualising. There is no contradiction at all between land occupation and constitutional reform. On the contrary, there exist a dialectical relationship which can harness the struggle for land return.
3. The Poor Must Benefit First
RET has to be explicit about the direct benefit that has to accrue to the poor and the working people. The poor must not benefit from “Trickle Down” logic but through direct ownership and share in the wealth of the nation. All the reforms in the economy must define how the poor and the working people will benefit. A clear commitment to the poor is central to the success and legitimacy of the RET. While there is an acknowledgement that sections of the black middle class as well as the aspirant and currently dependent black bourgeoisie must benefit, these relatively privileged groups must however not benefit ahead of the popular classes and the working people.
The battle for land return and RET is a political battle in the final analysis. The settler colonialists used political power to address the interests of the white minority. The black majority must do the same. The ruling party has the biggest electoral support amongst our people and therefore has the political power to drive a RET agenda. However, this is only possible if the ruling party is clear about where it stands with regard to WMC. If the ANC Policy Conference fails to speak with one clear and radical voice, then the project of land return and RET shall suffer a setback of not less than twenty years. It’s up to the ANC branches and delegates to the Policy Conference to assume the position of being agents of history and provide clear leadership for the return of the land and for Radical Economic Transformation. It can be done!
Issued by Black First Land First, National Coordinating Committee (BLF NCC)
5 June 2017
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