By BO Staff Writer
Radical economic transformation, in terms of changing the structure and ownership patterns of the land and economy, is the only solution to the question of vast inequality in the country, Professor Chris Malikane told a packed room of Black people at the Black First Land First (BLF) movement’s monthly Blacks In Dialogue (BID) event.
Malikane, who is the advisor to the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, was unpacking a paper he wrote, titled Concerning The Current Situation, wherein he charts minimum demands to the African National Congress (ANC) and what he terms, “progressive forces”, to fight the scourge of white monopoly capital, which he deems the primary enemy to black liberation.
“When we talk about ownership, it is well known that private white monopoly capital, and the white capital in general, own and control the South African economy, we know that,” he said.
“When we talk about fundamental changes in the structure of the economy, we are talking about fundamental changes in the composition of output. We need to promote broad-based industrialistion, led by manufacturing and the agricultural value chain. We need to reduce raw mineral exports,” Malikane said.
“There needs to be expropriation of land without compensation to the ownership of the state… the land must belong to all of us, it’s a natural resource,” he said. “The land must not be expropriated to create a Malikane empire, because that too will create inequalities amongst the black population. It must be owned by the democratic government.”
Firstly, addressing his Right-wing critics who say that radical economic transformation will lead to the hardships experienced in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, Malikane confessed, “one thing that must be noted comrades is that prior to [Hugo] Chavez taking over, Venezuela was in crisis. That country was going towards a civil war. What Chavez did was to mobilise the social forces and provide a program to transform the country and avoid a civil war. So now, of course people will resist that,” he said, warning that what happened in Venezuela is likely to happen here if the program for radical transformation becomes successful.
“We need to cognisant of the costs associated with the program that we are articulating. Our people need to be mobilised. They must be ideologically strengthened and politically educated to be prepared to deal with the hardships,” he further explained.
“Despite the fact that the Right-wing insulted me and did all sorts of things, I’m taking it seriously. I’m saying to the Right-wing… your criticism, I’m not taking it lightly… because it highlights the costs associated with adopting a particular path,” he said.
Malikane also addressed his critics from the Left. Addressing those who say that the use of the term ‘white monopoly capital’ is problematic. Those who claim “monopoly capital, whether black or white is a problem”. He responded: “This criticism is an example of a failure to move beyond the abstract to the concrete. We say here, we have a colonial problem… if there a such a thing as a non-racial monopoly capital, that would imply that the country has traversed from race monopoly, as [Joe] Slovo called it… then there can be no talk of white domination and colonialism. The fact that the description of the class forces is racialised is not of our making.”
And to those who say he is advocating for a ‘black monopoly capital’, he said, “we are not saying to hell with white monopoly capital, up with black monopoly capital, we are saying to hell with white monopoly capital, we want state ownership.”
“The issue then becomes the fight over the capture of the state, that’s why we argue in the paper, the black working class cannot abstain. It needs to be part of the forces that seek to capture state power,” Malikane said.
On the “take up arms” controversy
Malikane finished his talk by making the point that there needs to be a unification of all black “progressive forces” for the attainment of the land and economy. He called for constitutional reform, saying that these black progressive forces, which includes the “black working class”, black tender-based business class, churches, unions etc., must mobilise heavily for such reforms.
In the question and answer session, an audience member highlighted his disappointment in Malikane’s talk, saying that there has been too much talk thus far, and the black majority must pick up arms to get back the land.
Malikane responded to this question of arms, which has now be wrongly attributed to him by the white media, by saying that it was not his decision to make whether people must take up arms or not. “I do not like war”, Malikane said. “What I am getting from the comrade is that he wanted me to say that we must take up arms for radical economic transformation. That is not for me to decide,” the professor said.
Contrary to the news reports, he lambasted the man who called for an armed struggle by saying that there needs to be a strong unification of black people first, so that they can collectively decide on whether to take up arms or not. He said the progressive forces must call a “summit” to discuss the pillars of the “minimum program for land” and only there can such talk be entertained.
“My role is to put forward a program to unite these forces… the decision to take up arms cannot be taken by one person, it needs to be a discussion that is shared by everyone. Taking up arms is one thing, but building a country is another,” Malikane said.
To create unnecessary controversy, and then call for the firing of Malikane – purely because he articulates positions which makes white people uncomfortable, the white media have concocted the lie that he said he would take up arms for radical economic transformation.
After a fiery question and answer session, the president of Black First Land First (BLF), Andile Mngxitama, supported the professor’s call for a unification of progressive black people on the question of land and the economy. He told the audience that BLF will be calling a “Land Imbizo” on 27 May which will invited all sectors of the black population to discuss and plot a way forward for the land question.