By Andile Mngxitama
“I prefer land to niggers.” – Cecil John Rhodes
Sipho Pityana has launched himself as the conscience of the nation ever since the funeral of Mkhankesi Stofile. This is a blatant abuse of the nation’s sympathy and respect for the dead to undertake the most shameless defense of monopoly capital in modern times. Pityana accuses everyone who stands up against white capital as being captured. His latest insults are directed at Andile Mngxitama and Mzwanele Manyi. He says the two activists are doing the bidding for the Guptas. This accusation has become customary as a weapon to deflect attention from white capital. But who is Sipho Pityana and what interests does he represent? Why is he so angry?
The narrative that the problems of South Africa are solely the creation of President Zuma and the Guptas was designed late last year in London when the leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had met with Lord Robin Renwick. This narrative has been force fed to the nation by the white owned media on a daily basis. Like all propaganda, if its repeated enough its become its accepted as the truth. The main objective of this narrative is to make sure that white capital, and in particular white monopoly capital, is shielded from view and its historical and current transgressions are never accounted for.
Sipho Pityana accuses others of being captured but he speaks as the Chairman of the Anglo American Company called Anglo American Ashanti. Pityana is correctly a proud and articulate Askari of the Oppeheimer family and a defender of the Cecil John Rhodes legacy. During apartheid black people who defected from the liberation movement to become police officers and soldiers for apartheid were known as Askaris. Sipho Pityana is an Askari of the dynasty of white monopoly capital as represented by the Oppeheimer family. It doesn’t get better than that. What is clear is that the defenders of the South African white power have chosen their handlers. The EFF is in deep in the pockets of Johann Rupert whose wealth puts him at number two following the Oppenheimers. We should actually be calling Pityana and Malema by their correct descriptions – Sipho “Askari” Pityana and Julius “Ruptert” Malema. But here we are concerned with the Oppenheimer’s Askari.
Sipho Askari Pityana is a worried man. He has seen that since the emergence of the BRICS process the foothold of white capital in South Africa is no longer on firm ground. Couple this with the aggressive entry into the mining sector by the upstarts, the Gupta family, the concerns of white settler monopoly capital went sky high. It doesn’t matter that the Guptas are an insignificant player. The point is that they have a mere 5% coal supply to Eskom and that doesn’t make white capital happy. The biggest scare happened last December when President Zuma put an outsider at the helm of Treasury. The appointment of Des van Rooyen has given white capital the biggest shock of their lives. The fight back was total and swift. They decimated the rand and promised more economic terrorism. Zuma had to back down and give white capital its favorite son, Pravin Gordhan. The recapture of the Treasury was re-established by the dynasty which controlled South Africa, but it was deeply wounded. From the perspective of white capital Zuma cannot be trusted and nor can he be predicted, so they want him gone to re-establish their peace of mind.
President Zuma further anatagonised the Oppenheimer dynasty with the appointment of the activist Minister Mosebenzi Zwane into the strategic Ministry of Mining. The white owned press has ever since been on a total war path against Zwane. This is not surprising because whoever controls Mining and Treasury controls SA. White capital was on the verge of losing the political control of both arms of the SA economy under Zuma. They are holding onto Treasury by all means necessary and hope to dislodge Zuma and to then re-establish their control over mining.
White capital is on a fight back trail and calling on all its investment in its agents to bear fruit. The EFF has already delivered a capture of the main Metropolitan Cities to the Democratic Alliance (DA). We all know that although the DA is a party of white power and white capital, this is not enough. The real policy making power rests with national politics and there Zuma continues to reign supreme through the legislative majority of the ANC. Only a regime change like the one conducted in Brazil can change the balance of power decisively towards white power again.
We have witnessed the failure of the white led #ZumaMustFall attempts in conjunction with the imperialist sponsored NGOs, and the failure to ignite street protests following the Constitutional Court decision which said Zuma must pay back an amount to be determined by Treasury. The Constitutional Court (CC) decision did not find Zuma gulty of any act for which he is liable except to pay back a portion of the expenditure which has come down to less than R8 million. In fact the CC has found that the whole of the National Assembly has violated the Constitution – a point totally disregarded by the white owned media.
Having failed to generate a Brazilian like social upheaval for regime change, Pravin Gordhan has since been projected as the face of regime change despite being compromised in that he is a business partner of the people who forced Zuma to appoint him as Minister of Finance. Gordhan and his neo-liberal cohorts have decided to wreak havoc with the economy in an attempt to keep the long arm of the law away from Gordhan. The attacks on the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) by Pravin Gordhan, in particular the attacks on ESKOM and SAA are part of the strategy to weaken the economy so as to frighten the HAWKS and demobilize the President into inaction. A related objective is the privatization of the SOEs, which they want bought cheaply. The unleashing of Future Growth against SOEs must be understood within this context. The hand of Trevor Manuel is all over the attempt by Future Growth to illegally starve the SOEs of cash and to precipitate an economic blood bath which in turn would be good for Gordhan’s trouble with the law and also open the route to privatization.
The constant threats of down grading the economic status of the country by Ratings Agencies coupled with the assault on the SOEs has not stopped the HAWKS from demanding to see Gordhan. He remains the last card inside the ANC to defend white monopoly capital. It is in this milieu that Sipho Askari Pityana has been unleashed. The strategy is to strengthen Pravin Gordhan and others who are for the defense of white capital. The fact that Pravin Gordhan has direct interests in monopoly capital is now an established fact which he has not denied. His interlocking shares in these companies are beyond dispute. The question is whether Pityana can achieve better results for white capital?
Let’s start from the beginning. Sipho Askari Pityana is not an ordinary citizen concerned with good governance. Pityana is the Chairperson of Anglo Gold Ashanti, a company owned by the Oppenheimer’s and a section of the Ghana Dynasty. The Oppenheimer’s are the owners of Anglo American Corporation which is the most dominant entity in the South African economy. Anglo-American Corporation is the biggest beneficiary of settler colonialism and genocide against black people in South Africa and continues to make its money out of violence, exploitation, land dispossession, fueling of wars, destruction of the environment and many other crimes. But Pityana speaks as a man of integrity for good governance. Anglo American Corporation has not paid reparations for colonialism and apartheid, let alone for the mass killings of blacks in the mines for profits. We wait to hear Pityana wax lyrically about these real sins of white capital which he today shamelessly represents and defends.
Anglo American Corporation is the biggest beneficiary of colonial plunder throughout Southern Africa unleashed by Cecil John Rhodes. In the late 1920s the Oppenhimer family acquired De Beers, a mining company established by Rhodes, and continued to intensify the brutalization of the natives for profits. Anglo American couldn’t have thrived without the support of the colonial government right through apartheid. The Boers had agriculture and land and the Oppenheimer’s had the mines and the filthy compounds where dispossessed blacks were kept as cheap labour. There is enough songs amongst our people telling the sad story of what mining has done to us. Has Sipho Askari Pityana listened to Hugh Maskela’s Stimela? And today Pityana, the Oppenheimer man, speaks about good governance and values?
The sins of Anglo American Corporation in South Africa are so many. If we count them all they would block the Sun. But it has to be said that, long before the Marikana massacre, a pattern had been established of black death for profits by the very same people Pityana speaks for. Lets jump most of the colonial and apartheid era sins and just look at what the Askari’s handlers had done in living memory. An Askari is wont to forget, but we won’t.
Pityana forgets that Anglo American Corporation in 1980 fired 40 000 black workers for demanding workers’ rights! A reiteration is necessary – Anglo made its money out of slave labor and the brutalization of black workers without even counting the land dispossessions. By the end of the 1990s the tally of blacks killed in Anglo mines had reached a staggering 46 000 since the beginning of that century. Yes look at the number Sir, its almost 50 000 black bodies down the mine shafts of the mines of the those you have chosen to defend with your struggle credentials. Black death is synonymous with Anglo profits. When is Anglo American going to pay reparations for these massacres and genocides?
Profiting from Disease!
Pityana projects himself as a man who stands for values, integrity, truth and good governance against the corruption of Jacob Zuma and the evil Guptas. But the company he represents continues to make profits out of poisoning black workers and spitting them out to the rural areas to die lonely and horrible deaths. They cough blood and fall by the wayside after their bodies have been totally ravaged by lung disease that they have picked up making money for Pityana’s whites. What’s even more devastating is that Anglo American denies and refuses to take responsibility. These black men returning home, incapacitated and poor, become the burden of the already overburdened black women, mostly grannies. And Pityana says he represents the Black Agenda?
We are aware that faced with an unwinnable claim by 4500 workers (your company has poisoned for profits) you settled this year after years of denial and hope on your part that most of the claimants must die before you pay. Mr Sipho Askari Pityana, R500 million for the destruction of lives of 4 500 workers is nothing! That’s not even half the people your company has murdered through disease and bad working conditions. We are aware that Anglo Ashanti and Anglo American still refuse to acknowledge any wrong doing and you Sir talk about the need for self introspection? People die and you look the other way but have the gall to ask others to account.
What are you doing in Ghana, the land of Kwame Nkrumah? Done destroying us here, you have relocated to Ghana to complete Cecil John Rhode’s dream of conquering Africa from Cape to Cairo. Like your inspirarion, Rhodes, your Company is annexing people’s land and bringing death and destruction in the villages of Ghana. Mass displacement so that you may steal their gold is everyday occurrence in places like Obuasi. In 2006 the ActionAid report tells the story of the destruction in Obuasi by Pityana’s organisaiton. In 2007 the Ghanaian Public Agenda reported interviews with displaced farmers who tell of harassment from the private security companies of Anglo Gold Ashanti. These poor farmers are denied access to their own land. One farmer is reported to have said, “almost all the footpaths and other routes…farmers…had been using since time immemorial to get to their farms…rendered impassable by mounting heaps of waste rock dumped all over their community over the years by the AngloGold Ashanti mine.”
Since you are about profits before people, in 2004 you fired almost all the people in your Obuasi mines and shut it down. You took the people’s land and you stopped the minining activities because the markets were not good. You are a real Rhodes man. The hungry people of Obuasi and Ghana decided to take over the mine (which is theirs anyway) and you, Mr Integrity and Values were not ashamed to call the government of Ghana to bring in the army! Fortunately for the people of Ghana their government disregarded your call for a blood bath for gold. Your call for the army, after hundreds of people had occupied the mine, was a call for a massacre ten times bigger than Marikana. Why didn’t you talk to the people, give them a stake in the mine and mine peacefully instead of mining through bullets and blood?
We stand 100% with the people of Ghana who have occupied your operations there. You were forced to leave Ghanaian mines because of the greed of your colonial masters. We say to you, what you did in Obuasi is a precursor to what is coming here and you know it too.
AngloAshanti, like its parent organization is an operation of thugs. We know for instance that, “(i)n October 2002 the United Nations Security Council published a report (Document S/2002/1146; no longer on the UN website) criticizing the role that private interests, including mining companies such as AngloGold, had played in exploiting the DRC’s resources amid the confusion of civil war in the 1990s. Anglo was among the firms accused of violating OECD ethical guidelines for multinationals”.
Having managed to silence the UN through its powerful lobby, the truth didn’t go away. Then again in 2005 a Human Rights Watch report confirmed the UN report, including shockingly that AngloGold was paying militia groups. This claim was confirmed by the company and it promised never to do this again. But as we have seen it has this year asked for military intervention in its operation in Ghana.
Sipho Askari Pityana is a war lord instigating wars for gold in the broader African continent. The ongoing conflict in the DRC has everything to do with the scramble for gold and other mineral resources. An Askari is not the person to talk about good governance. We won’t go into too much detail about the ongoing brutalisation of our people here in South Africa by Anglo American. It’s a reported fact that Anglo Platinum has led to the forcible removal of poor communities in South Africa. A report by a civil society group shows that, “Anglo Platinum has been embroiled in a controversy over its relocation of 10,000 people from the Ga-Puka and Ga-Sekhaolelo villages in Limpopo province to allow for an expansion of the company’s Potgietersrust Platinum operation”. The list of transgressions is too long to recount. Pityana’s hands are not clean, in fact they drip with blood. This is a fact that Pityana must confront as soon as he has time for self-reflection. All Anglo American mines are not compliant with the laws of South Africa that govern the issuance of licenses. Anglo American continues to exploit the land and people without giving back. We are not talking about handouts. We are talking about the stolen land and wealth.
We need to remind the Askari that De Beers which is a part of the Anglo American Corporation inherited from Cecil John Rhodes was doing business with the Angolan counter revolutionary gang (UNITA) funded and adviced by the United States of America in Angola. Pityana knows who UNITA is. And De Beers was buying blood diaminds from Jonas Savimbi. This dirty business was only removed from the public eyes in 1999. The company that Pityana is proud to be associated with is one of the key players in blood diamonds in the African continent. It’s public relations excercises about having stopped its dirty role is nothing but a case of as hypocritical as a man who would use a funeral to launch a political campaign to defend white monopoly capital and try to whitewash its sins.
We see the media does not mention that Sipho Askari Pityana is the Chairman of a mining empire which stands to lose more than enough in the decolonization of the economy. The Anglo American conglomerate is now involved in direct regime change battles having secured the services of one who can sell his struggle credentials in service of white capital. Pityana is not just captured by white capital but has internalized their programme of white domination as his personal agenda. His rage against some of us who are laboring to expose and destroy white capital must be understood in that context. The Askari complex is a terrible thing. As famous Askaris like Joe Mamasela would attest,to, there is a sadistic pleasure in helping white handlers to murder former comrades that one was in the camps with. The hatred for one’s former comrades is bigger than that of the oppressor whom one now serves. Askaris are dangerous people.
Sipho Askari Pityana reminds us of a time (that he seems to be longing for) that most of us want obliterated – the time of Cecil John Rhodes and his close friend Sir Leander Starr Jameson. Jameson tried to whitewash the sins of Rhodes with claims of his care for Blacks. He tells us: “His [Cecil John Rhodes] favourite Sunday pastime was to go into the De Beers native compound, where he had built them a fine swimming bath, and throw in shillings for the natives to dive for. He knew enough of their languages to talk to them freely, and they looked up to him – indeed, fairly worshipped the great white man.”
Pityana, where you see a nirvana we see horror. We are not diving into the pool after the shillings thrown in by the colonial master for his amusement. We don’t worship the white man. You can continue in your path to serve the white man with distinction. But we can assure you, we have determined a different path for ourselves – we want the total destruction of the economic and social system that reduces our people into things to be played with by your white masters. The Oppenheimer’s shall pay reparations and shall also be forced to give back the stolen wealth of our people. History is on our side. You must have noticed, the great Rhodes statue has fallen. Now his wealth created out of oppression and dispossession locked up in the Anglo American system, shall also be decolonized. You are fighting a wrong battle. The door remains open for you to abandon the settler colonialists and come back home to the black family. The choice is yours!
What we know is that defenders of the white agenda like Sipho Askari Pityana can not be trusted with the programme to liberate black people.
Andile Mngxitama is the National Convener of Black First Land First