By Kufa Magwaza
During the days of the cold war, in fact the very reasons why there was cold war in the first place, was because of the influence of the Soviet bloc which exerted an Eastern influence, and later to Western influence, giving effect to an alternative.
Russia led this Eastern ideological push through the USSR; this effectively giving rise to a bipolar world scenario. The collapse of the Eastern bloc was a welcome development in the West as it increased their ideological hegemony and their control over world events.
The South African negotiation process, unfortunately, took place under these conditions and as such, the negotiators from the liberation movement, moved from a weakened position and ended up conceding too many compromises – the sunset clauses or property clauses to be specific. These clauses ostensibly put political power in the hands of the majority but economic power firmly in the hands of the minority. Now a new “re-alignment of forces” through BRICS is viewed by the West as the re-emergence of the defeated Eastern bloc’s ideological offensive which must be thwarted because it will tilt the world economic power away from the West to the East.
First there was a lot of apprehensivenes from the West when China seemed to invest everywhere in Africa. A major offensive was carried out against China by the West under the pretext of its human rights record, yet many major manufacturing companies, like Nike, moved their factories and their plants to China. They did this because it was cheaper to avoid trade union rights in China as the country doesn’t recognize workers rights and that made manufacturing in China more lucrative for Western companies who did not want to miss out on saving on labour costs and maximising profits, while paying lip service to adherence to human rights in their countries.
When Muammar Gaddafi insisted on uniting Africa (United States of Africa) he was viewed, even by his own fellow men and women in Africa, as a dreaming imbecile. Many leaders saw his idea of a United States of Africa as laughable given that Africans could not even run their own countries, let alone their trading blocs like ECOWAS and SADC which were seen as toothless dogs, both in economic and political terms.
When Gaddafi became serious about providing seed funding for the African Bank, an alternative developmental land bank to the Work Bank, the West realised that this was no longer an empty threat, as Libya under Gaddafi had the financial muscle to provide that kind of funding. In fact, many Western and African countries owed Gaddafi’s Libya big sums of money in dollars. So, Gaddafi was becoming a real threat to Western hegemony and he had to be removed from the economy. Due to his firm grip on power, it was not easy for any of the regime change strategies to work if they came from within, therefore a NATO air strike would be unleashed on him so that he would be weakened and the amateur internal insurrection would take over from there and the West did not care what happened next, except the world would remain unipolar with the West firmly in control.
Former president Thabo Mbeki received a lot of criticism during his tenure when he seemed to be obsessing about what was called the Non-Aligned Movement and later had the India and Brazil alliance. However, what really incensed the West is the entrance of China and Russia into the mix to form BRICS and the idea of the formation of the alternative world lending institution in the name of BRICS Bank was a step way too far.
The Guptas, on the other hand, have been encroaching the space historically reserved for the white monopolists in South Africa. They’ve not only done that, they also changed the rules of the game. The capitalists know very well that in order to lead and continue leading, they have to be on top of the economy, meaning they must lay down the rules of the game, so to speak.
The stranglehold they have had over Eskom means that if Eskom refuses to sign their exorbitant contracts, they will simply stop supplying coal and the country’s main switch will fall, resulting in rolling blackouts which will be blamed on government incompetence and not on them holding the country at ransom. The Guptas came into the scene sneakily and changed that approach, taking the country out of that historical bondage by demonstrating that coal can be supplied at a 9 times cheaper rate per ton than what the government was paying for and at a much quicker rate of delivery and in bulk.
No more was the government threatened by a single cartel of four families – milking as much as R23 billion from state coffers with blackouts. The Guptas, through their coal mining company, had freed government from that stranglehold. This angered the white monopolists.
As if that was not enough, the Guptas set up their own IT network of companies through Sahara Group, again encroaching their space. They moved to team up Denel, the arms manufacturer for South Africa which had been a white business enclave. They set up their own media company, fully equipped with their own television news channel, online and print platforms. Last but not least, they listed in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
Suddenly, the white monopolists felt dislodged by the Guptas who seemed to have caught up with them everywhere. They owned their own private jet, something unheard of in the history of the economy of this country. This to monopolists, required more than just public rebuke. It required desperate measures to be taken to rollback the economic influence the Guptas now had. But, they had to carefully comb through a number of historical events to identify patterns of their accummulation and network of friends to see where they derive their influence from. This led them to the current president of the country. His son is one of the shareholders in one of the many Gupta companies but also, the president himself is very close to the Guptas, therefore it is possible that his soberness and decisiveness in implementing what appears to be radical economic changes could be linked back to the Guptas.
The landing at a Waterkloof airbase was a good start but they needed something more tangible and they, having been in the driving seat of state capture themselves, knew it was a matter of time before they caught the Guptas with their pants down in this regard. Once that happened, they would then launch their fight back strategy. The strategy would involve regime change and would be orchestrated from within the ruling party itself, especially targeting those who have not yet benefited from the economy but also those who have crossed sword or have been on the receiving end of the president’s decisions. The ratings agencies would be used as a trump card. Ratings agencies are very useful in that they can used as a stick (junk status) if the carrot (foreign direct investment) does not work.
These would all be pawns in this game and the strategy would be to galvanize public support for regime change similar to spring uprisings that gripped the Arab world and some Asian countries. The president would be forced to resign and the Guptas would be forced out of the country and the white monopolists would be firmly back on the driving seat of the economy and things would go back to square one, where white people would take their so-called “rightful place” in the economy as owners of monopoly capital and black people their economic slaves. The few black politicians that would have assisted this regime change program would be rewarded handsomely for their role but that would be a lesson enough that whites must never allow a black man to just run free, unchecked, because they can just simply get with the Indians and Russians, rekindle their old flame and turn the economic table against the white monopolists in this country and that, of course, would not be cool.
Kufa Magwaza is currently completing his Masters in Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN). He has an undergraduate degree in Human Resources and Psychology and a Postgraduate diploma in Applied Social Sciences: Policy and Development Studies, both from UKZN. He has worked for the Department of Labour, Stats SA and as a chief of Staff in the Department of Arts and Culture in KZN. He is writing in his personal capacity.