By Andile Mngxitama
Black people need a programme to unite them into a force that can use its numerical strengths to defeat the enemy. Radical Economic Transformation (RET) is the minimum programme which can unite black people towards total liberation. A minimum programme by definition provides for a sign post towards the maximum programme. For the Black First Land First (BLF) movement, the maximum programme is black socialism where white supremacy in all its guises is defeated and black people own the country and its wealth, which will be enjoyed by all equitably. The focus of our liberation is Black people.
There are immediate questions that need to be clarified, such as who is the enemy of black liberation today? What is the primary contradiction against which all of us must be pitted? What can unite blacks towards achieving the goal of liberation? These are both theoretical (who is the enemy?) and practical (what to do to unite blacks to fight the enemy) questions.
One’s ideological orientation helps clarify the question of who is the enemy of black liberation. Revolutionary ideologies such as Pan Africanism and Black Consciousness guide us on the basis of the original transgression against black people, which is slavery and colonialism. In South Africa there was even apartheid. From a black perspective, white people have enslaved (theft of people), colonised (theft of land) and implemented apartheid (white supremacy into law). We should add another theft into the list – the theft of black people’s labour, through super-exploitation, to ensure white profits and comfort at our expense.
The democratic order imposed in 1994 didn’t change the fundamental truth of who the enemy is. The African National Congress (ANC) rule through a constitution that privileges white interests has legitimized the original white sins.
Whites have thrown the bone of politics to blacks so that we fight amongst ourselves whilst they keep the country and the wealth.
The ruling class in South Africa is not the ANC but rather white monopoly capital (WMC). White supremacy, which is responsible for slavery, colonialism and apartheid, manifests as WMC in the economic sphere. The concept of WMC brings us closer to who the enemy is. We need to peel one more layer and name who are the representatives of WMC.
Two families are the symbolic representatives of the enemy and these are the Rupert and the Oppenheimer families. Others in the list of WMC representatives include Maria Ramos, Koos Bekker, Whitey Basson, Christo Wiese, amongst others. These families and individuals own and control the South African economy and state. Together they own over 90% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and 80% of the land. Annually, they steal R60 billion and illegally take it out of South Africa. They have captured the state and take over 80% of tenders from government. They even appoint ministers using their economic power, as we saw in December 2015 when they forced President Jacob Zuma to hire Pravin Gordhan. They unleashed economic terrorism that cost the economy R500 billion in two days. They showed the ruling party who the real ruling class is.
So, the primary contradiction is WMC. All other contradictions are secondary and often organised by the primary contradiction, including corruption tribalism, xenophobia (afrophobia), patriarchy, political squabbles, violence in the ghetto and self hatred.
The ruling class (WMC) controls the ideas in society, it uses its media to confuse society. Right now, WMC is using both the media and opposition parties. WMC is working hard to move our focus from the primary enemy, which is WMC itself. They are making us believe the problem in South Africa is not WMC but President Zuma and the Guptas. They use very powerful media propaganda strategies, including lies and fake news. They pay politicians, even inside the ruling party, to oppose the RET programme and call it state capture.
We all heard how Johann Rupert, the Stellenbosch mafia king, came out against RET saying it’s a programme to loot. What is happening here is that those who have captured the state since 1652 are making sure their monopoly over the economy is maintained by calling RET state capture. This is a clever propaganda trick. How can the Guptas have captured the state when they don’t own even 1% of the economy? How can a family whose businesses have no bank accounts be seen to have captured the state?
The main reason WMC is at war with the Gupta family is because it’s seen as supporters of RET. WMC also fears competition from the same family. WMC got a big fright when the Guptas took over a company of Glencore in the coal sector. WMC is fighting back and dirty.
Since 1994, the ANC has implemented the economic policies of WMC, which include GEAR, ASGISA and the National Development Plan (NDP). These were implemented mostly under Thabo Mbeki, Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan and World Bank-trained Tito Mboweni. These policies have worked against black people. After 23 years, it’s now all clear that those policies favoured whites. RET, in short, is a response to these failures. It must be remembered though that those anti-black policies (GEAR, ASGISA, NDP) benefited a few inside the ruling party such as Cyril Ramaphosa, Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordhan, Enoch Godongwana, amongst others. This explains why they reject RET.
What is Radical Economic Transformation (RET)?
Like all programmes that seek change and to challenge the status quo, Radical Economic Transformation (RET) is naturally contested. The best outline of what RET is, was provided by President Zuma at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) earlier in the year. We can distil the following from the SONA on RET:
1. Land must be expropriated without compensation
2. Revised Mining Charter
3. Break down monopolies in the economy
4. Use the state to transform the economy
5. Free education
6. Minimum living wage
7. No to racism
8. Establishment of a state bank
9. Transformation of the judiciary
10. End to poverty and suffering
The demands of RET provide for a direct confrontation with WMC. The organizing and most important demand is land expropriation without compensation.
WMC is fighting back and undermining each demand through various means, including using opposition political parties, pro-WMC agents inside the ANC, the judiciary and mass media. The mining charter which provides for amongst others, 30% of mine shares into black hands in 12 months, was stopped by the courts. On the otber hand, the media is attacking free education. Opposition parties are playing political football with land expropriation without compensation.
These manoeuvres by WMC and its agents demand all revolutionary and progressive people, organizations, churches, traditional healers and African kings and queens to unite, define and defend RET. Until RET is owned and implemented by the people, there is no hope for change. Politicians promise but never deliver. We can’t wait for politicians who just want votes then after, do nothing.
To support RET means taking practical actions. BLF has called on land expropriation (occupation) by the landless. The “Soweto Land Declaration” calls for the national establishment of Land Expropriation Committees to identify productive land held by white farmers and to expropriate it without compensation. In the mining sector, BLF has stood with the indigenous miners called Zama Zamas. The attitude of those in the ANC who proclaim to support RET will be exposed by how they react to land occupations and Zama Zama mining.
Radical Economic Transformation under attack
Radical Economic Transformation (RET) is under attack from inside and outside of the ANC. Revolutionary organisations and people, irrespective of party affiliation, must defend RET. Supporting RET doesn’t mean supporting the ANC. It only means supporting a national reconstruction programme which provides for a minimum basis for a united action against the enemy of black liberation. The ANC has not shown capacity to drive any radical programme. If a revolutionary movement like BLF does not mobilise the people, implement RET and force the ANC to do the same, we can kiss any RET implementation goodbye.
The power lies in the people. There must be mass mobilisation across political party affiliation demanding RET. We must give RET content, targets and time frames. We must then demand implementation without pause. We can’t trust politicians, we must trust mass power. The people defeated apartheid thorough mass power.
The BLF rally on Saturday, 18 November in Thokoza (Ekurhuleni) is a call for a mass defence and advancement of RET by the people. The rally aims to make RET a people’s programme – not a politicians programme. BLF calls on all our people to step up and say RET now! Enough is enough!!!
BLF calls on all revolutionary organisations to stand together under the banner of RET as a minimum programme to help organise a confrontation with the enemy and to advance the interests of the black majority. If we leave RET to the ANC alone, we shall wait forever. More urgently, there are forces inside and outside the ANC who are working tirelessly to render RET defunct. It’s our duty to defend it.