By Visvin Reddy
The entire world looked on with bated breath as South Africa navigated its way from the dreadful and horrendous Apartheid to democracy. Doomsayers predicted a bloodbath and genocide, as has happened in other African countries, but they were proved wrong.
Decades of White minority rule ended with the release of Mandela and the return of many ANC leaders from exile. The change-over did not happen overnight. The establishment of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) saw a series of negotiations between 1990 and 1993 reached by the ANC and the National Party, and a wide ranging variety of other political organisations.
The ANC was underground and many of its leaders were either in prison or in exile and there was an urgency to reach an agreement quickly. In its haste to end the war, the ANC abandoned many of its key founding principles which included the nationalisation of mines, transfer of ownership of manufacturing plants and financial institutions and more importantly the redistribution of land.
Before the democratic elections in 1994 the Transitional Executive Committee or TEC was the de facto government comprising of a few ANC leaders and the ruling NP. The powerful economic sub committee of the TEC was chaired by Thabo Mbeki and its members included Pravin Gordon, Tito Mboweni (former reserve bank governor), Maria Ramos (ABSA bank CEO) and Trevor Manuel, all of whom were conveniently appointed non executive directors in multi million rand White owned establishments.
On the 1 December 1993, the TEC, on recommendations from the finance Sub committee, accepted an $850 million loan from the International Monetary Fund(IMF), which effectively sold out the ANCs economic struggle.
The conditions of the loan, signed off by Mandela, stopped the ANC from pursuing its campaign to nationalise mines, banks, other key industries like SASOL, and to abandon it’s call to demand that the country’s land should belong to all who work it. So it took $850million for the ANC to sell its struggle.
The ANC in 1999 got the two thirds majority it required to amend the constitution but didn’t. I can only conclude that the loan conditions prevented it from doing so.
Baron Rothschild, the founder of the Rothschild banking empire where Trevor Manuel is employed, said, “Give me control of a nation’s money supply and I care not who makes their laws.”
The one who controls the purse strings will effectively control the country. In South Africa today, 24 years after democracy, the means of production, the banks, major industries and productive land is owned and controlled by capitalists.
You cannot ignore the masses for too long. They placed their trust in the ANC to bring changes and 24 years later the poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer. Now, the ANC realises that in the face of a revolt from its own supporters it is now proposing an amendment to a constitution it negotiated with its enemy, the NATS.
The latest STATSA report on poverty revealed that over 55% of the population live below the breadline. That is more than 20 million people who are directly affected by the recent fuel price increases. Bread prices are going up by over 40c a loaf, public transport costs are already increased, all of which will make life unbearable for the majority of our people.
The ANC can bring relief to the poor by returning to it’s initial economic struggle. It must instruct its government to take over the ownership of SASOL which makes fuel from Coal. The company records massive profits of over R100 million per day because the government gives it an unfair advantage. The poor get poorer while we ignore the fact that nationalizing SASOL and deregulating the price of fuel will result in South Africans paying less than R10 per litre. Food costs will then come down and public transport will be made cheaper.
Visvin Reddy is the National Convener of People Against Petrol and Parrafin Price Increases (PAPPPI)