Monday, October 13, 2008

The ANC, the capitalist machine, and the demise of Thabo Mbeki

There are a few things you can say to liberals that can get you punched. One close to the top of the list is, “Ahhh…I don’t think Nelson Mandela was such a great guy”. Say it and duck, quick.

Liberals put Mandela securely above God. One look at the recent London birthday bash for Mandela where people like Victoria Beckham blessed the gathering with her vacuous, sickly-sweet tributes, confirms that they worship the myth not the man made of blood and bones and trailed by a life of mis-steps and regrets as all humans are. For liberals, Mandela is perfect and only Satan or lightly educated, right-wing rednecks would say otherwise. But like all myths when you scratch a bit, the cracks show.

In last week’s Mail and Guardian, John Pilger in his article entitled “The downfall of Mbeki: the hidden truth”, pulls the curtain away for a moment to let us see the strings. He discusses how the demise of Thabo Mbeki is more than the mistakes of an arrogant man, and how the fall started long ago when Nelson Mandela made a deal with the apartheid baddies, a deal which sold the soul of the ANC for a chance to grab those golden reins of power, leaving the poor blacks, like always, far back in the dust.

The builders of the apartheid system might have left the situation indefinitely if it was only about the deaths of people in all of the rainbow shades of South Africa. That was not a big concern and, if anything, the death of a white person was a good advertisement for the regime’s position that black people were dangerous, just imagine what havoc they would cause if they got power. Fear is a fantastic method for social manipulation. No, dead citizens were not gonna be enough to start the change. Something more important was needed.

According to Pilger, in 1985 when the Johannesburg stock market nose dived, the capitalists got scared. They warned the government that something had to be done. In September of ’85 Gavin Relly, chair of Anglo American, met with ANC president Oliver Tambo. The deal was the ANC could get control, but the status quo must be maintained- meaning the white run capitalist machine stays. Meetings ensued in which a certain faction of the ANC was invited, a faction that included exiled moderates who could be convinced to drop one of the basic tenets of ANC policy- the nationalisation of the mines and other big businesses acquired as a direct result of apartheid policy. The troublesome UDF faction, who battled away in townships hoping that the legacy of institutionalised poverty based on colour would come to an end once the ANC was in control, was not included in these meetings. Divide and rule took on a slightly different meaning.

After these meetings, Nelson Mandela emerged as the leader with comments such as, “The ANC will reintroduce the market to South Africa”. Pilger says in the article, “It was as though a deal was that whites would retain economic control in exchange for black majority rule: the ‘crown of political power’ for the ‘jewel of the South African economy” as Ali Mazrui put it.”

There was the hope that as a few blacks were let into the rich boys’ club enough money would fall by the wayside to help the poor masses. That didn’t happen. The whole trickle down Reganomics lie has never worked elsewhere so why they thought it would work in SA where a heck of a lot more than a trickle was required one can only wonder. According to Pilger, the waBenzi turned out to be even stingier than the status quo whites. Apparently there is no white guilt to work against the rampant, bare knuckles greed of the new black upper class.

Thabo Mbeki just kept to the deal set in place by Mandela and friends. He did such a sterling job, he and Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel, were loved by the World Bank and IMF, those darlings of the capitalist big-wigs. This was even more apparent when Mbeki resigned and the markets showed no reaction, but when there was rumour that Manuel would follow suit the world panicked, showing clearly what the movers and shaker valued more when having to choose between money and power.

Now Bo-Zuma are speaking sweet nothings into the ears of the swooning love struck poor; saying everything that is needed to worm their way in. But Pilger warns, “…beware those successors of Mbeki now claiming that, unlike him, they have the people’s interests at heart. And mark if or when they continue the same divisive policies. South Africa deserves better”.
Indeed they do, Mr Pilger.


Anonymous said...

I liked Pilger's article very much. Mandela left more problems than he solved, but he is the cuddly patron saint of the Vanity Fair set, and can do no wrong. I fear that the expectations on Zuma's ascendancy may be such that like his neighbour Ole Bob in 2000, he may be forced to give in to chaotic economic policies. And we all know how that sort of thing turns out. The meek, sadly shall inherit the earth when it has been stripped of all its value.

Lauri said...

One way or the other- he will be forced to follow the current line , which is failing for most South Africans; or he will do a Mugabe and ruin everything. Finding a compassionate, sensible way forward I believe might be beyond his abilities.