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Land and liberation: Who is the enemy of Black Liberation in South Africa?

By Simbarashe Nyatsanza

This article was submitted as part of the Think For Yourself competition.

The liberation of Black People in South Africa can only be truly complete once the majority of the Black Nation has full access to the land and all its offerings. Land provides means for people to fend for themselves and it endows them with a sense of dignity and pride. It is the basis of all wealth and prosperity – essential tenets of total liberation – and its possession is a guarantee to continuity.

Access to land by Black South Africans will have a significant effect in bridging the socio-economic gaps between the different races of this country, bringing Black people closer to attaining dignified and fulfilling lives in their land of birth.

The enemy of Black Liberation in South Africa is any entity that seeks to deter black people from rightful land acquisition and from fair economic participation by establishing a monopoly on the economy, by frustrating black efforts and rendering them spectators in the deciding of their own fate. White monopoly capital, white-owned companies that are in control of a large sector of the country’s economy, is directly responsible for the halted liberation of the Black Nation in South Africa. It exists to protect white economic interests by owning the means of production and setting the terms of trade. This is historically an unfair position that exists at the detriment of black lives, which seeks to maintain white socio-economic hegemony and keep black people in a subservient role 23 years into democracy.

Black land dispossession, which began with the influx of Europeans into The Cape in the mid-1600s and systematically continued throughout the centuries, has its conclusion in the present state of Black South Africa; the majority of our people live in appalling conditions as second class citizens in their own land with little to no possibility of improvement with the exception of a privileged few. White monopoly capital continues to perpetuate this condition by denying Blacks a hand in the economy and frustrating legitimate efforts at equal redistribution of national resources and atonement of the atrocious crimes committed against them during apartheid.

Amongst many of the tools that white monopoly capital uses to keep Black people in economic dependence are structural and policy barriers designed to impede Black participation in the national economy. For instance, in the lucrative food and retail industry, unmovable monopolistic business models are employed with the intention of barring the entry and participation by Black companies. Unrealistic cash requirements, company records which account for more than 30 years of business activity and heavy rentals are some of the hurdles faced by relatively new Black competitors. Not many emerging black business meet these requirements.

The continual use of apartheid banking practices is another tool used by white monopoly capital to deny black South Africans their total liberation. Three of the country’s major banks were recently sent to the Competition Tribunal for colluding to fix prices. This had the intention of disrupting the formation of a bank that will serve black businesses, granting capital and providing financial guidance.

The history of apartheid has left black South Africans at the outskirts of an economy whose inequality is still almost at the same level as it was back then. Less than 5% of the shares on Johannesburg Stock Exchange are directly owned by black South Africans as of February 2016. By rendering empowerment laws ineffective, white monopoly capital frustrates the government’s effort toward economic liberation.

The government of South Africa through the ANC’s radical economic transformation policy is, taking the economy towards a deracialized direction that secures sustainable growth, high investments and increased employment in order to facilitate the overdue total liberation of the Black people and place power into their hands. It hopes to achieve this through, among other important initiatives, reducing inequalities, creating public employment, prioritising workers’ education and skills, creating more opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups and perhaps most importantly doing away with spatial imbalances, which will lead to land reform, rural development and encourages integration in urban areas. The policy also seeks to enable more people to enter the economy by encouraging small businesses.

Successful implementation of this policy will go a long way in correcting past injustices. It will give black South Africans a chance to effectively participate in the growth and expansion of their economy. Black businesses will develop the capacity to form greater international links, creating opportunities to conduct business at a larger global scale, eventually guaranteeing the complete liberation of black people in South Africa.

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