Mbeki takes stab at ‘white monopoly capital’ phrase, crooked Zuma era

President Jacob Zuma attends the funeral service of Ontlametse Phalatse, 21 Apr 2017.

CAPE TOWN — What is needed for South Africa is a growth plan. That meant new investment in factories and things like that, says former South African President Thabo Mbeki, at a ‘conversation’ with Power FM and screened by eNCA. In the audience were EFF leader Julius Malema and EFF MP Floyd Shivambu as well as former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel as well as former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko. It made for powerful television as Mbeki also hit out against criminalising ‘white monopoly capital’. – Donwald Pressly

By Donwald Pressly*

14 July 2017 – South Africa was given a reminder of what it is like to have a leader who listens and responds to people.

In an interview which kept the audience spellbound – or so it appears – the president was asked what there was to do with the South African economy.

The answer was quite simple. South Africa needs growth, he said. “For this economy to grow it needs new investment and higher rates of investment. … that means new factories, new mines all of those things… umm.. that is one thing. Second, the consideration that relates to that… you invest what you have saved. The savings ratio in this country is very low. For instance… between 16 and17 percent of GDP. In China it is over 50%.”

Mbeki, who now heads the Thabo Mbeki Foundation and who has been out of office nine years when he was dislodged from power by incoming President Jacob Zuma in 2008, also took a stab at the narrative of ‘white’ monopoly capital.

Thabo Mbeki, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and his partner Tshepo Motsepe at the funeral service of anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada.

“Somebody comes to you to say the principal enemy of the national democratic revolution is white monopoly capital (laughter from the audience)… you should say wait…. I know the role of monopoly capital… let us discuss that… even as it relates to South Africa.

“If you go to people and say… white monopoly capital is the enemy of the national democratic revolution. You are then suggesting to me that you must take action against this enemy. (To laughter) Otherwise what is the point of pointing out an enemy. Who is this enemy? You are obliged to say Johann Rupert. I don’t know what you are going to do with Johann. Thrash him or anything?”

“Let us understand what is happening to the South African capitalist economy so we can intervene to do the right thing if we misdiagnose the problem, the cure is going to be wrong.”

Zuma administration like a federation of ministries

He also took a dig at his successor’s cabinet saying the Jacob Zuma administration lacks coherence. He explained that under his watch a cabinet member had to present policy to the entire cabinet at which it was dissected. Now it appeared that cabinet members did their own thing and policies presented represented just the stance of an individual member, not the team.

If a cabinet did not behave like a collective “you do not have a government… you do not have a centre that can hold”. It was quite a swipe at the incoherence of the Zuma administration. “If you do not have a cabinet (collective)… you will have a federation of ministries.”

Speaking ahead of Mbeki’s conversation, Trevor Manuel said South Africans should not despair.

“Right now it doesn’t feel as we are capable of much as a country. We need to dig deep inside ourselves and understand the wherewithal we collectively possess… we remind ourselves of what we are capable of. This room … have responsibility to many other South Africans out there… who are poor and dispossessed who live in hope. We must always consider ourselves capable of providing that hope to our people.”

  • Donwald Pressly is the editor of Cape Messenger.
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