If your job is to advise a Minister who distances himself from your views; then your thoughts are not for public consumption, writes George Mogaladi.
It will be of paramount importance to look at Professor Chris Malikane’s article with deep introspection and serious understanding. In the academic space, there are two types of academics, that is, grounded and mediocre academics. The former is a type of an academic who scientifically use grounded theory to propose sustainable solutions to societal challenges – whereas the latter refers to a populist type of an academic who postulate demagogic views by regurgitating without acknowledgement of other people’s views and grandstand on some untested theories to shape public discourse negatively. A mediocre academic wants public recognition and will say what people want to hear and picky back on common sense which gets legitimised by his/her title.
In short, I want to demonstrate why Prof Chris Malikane is a mediocre academic.
His first mistake
His choice of concepts and words is reckless. He foregrounds his paper with a title ‘1. Objective analysis of classes in theatre of conflict’. This is utter rubbish!
As an academic, he ought to know that no perspective can claim objectivity until is subjected to critical review and contestation by peers in the same school of thought. John Maynard Keynes, the dominate father of economic order on which the entire world economic system is premised has claimed objectivity. The Keynesian model which butchers other political and economic systems such as socialism and communism and propagates aggressively for open market system which under gird the persisting capitalist system; proves the sentiment that no perspective is objective until tested and contested.
It is arrogant and patronising to entitle opinions as objective to say the least, a grounded academic would know that. There is also a title called “White monopoly: Myth or Reality” as an academic he ought to know principles and order of writing; the concept of white monopoly is not defined and there is no distinction between the so-called myths and realities in that the ending paragraph does not present coherent thinking. Having read that I do not know what the myths are and what the realities are – and even worse – I still do not know what white monopoly is as I get confused because his characterisation of it sounds like he is referring to bourgeoisie of compradorial character. I challenge all communist to read this section with Marxist lenses!
His second mistake
Mediocre academics just like other opportunist, borrow without acknowledging other people’s views and thrive on short memory and myopic nature of those who value their views and clap hands for them. At the advent of implementation of the Gauteng Highway Improvement Project loosely known as E-tolling; the first SACP General Secretary, Jeremy Cronin, penned an article on umsebenzi articulating why the middle class must pay. This article received wide criticism from all quarters including in the alliance and the SACP was characterised as selling out.
The very characterisation of the middle class, its consumerist behaviour and credit dependency, is used by Prof Malikane in his line of argument. Prof Malikane does not even expand on the already expressed thought by Cronin which is factoring to the fact that super taxation of 45% will affect this middle class in the main. By the way, Prof Malikane argues that tax is a creation of white monopoly capital as the state is the lever of the same. My question, then, is: Were was Prof Malikane when Cronin’s views on the middle class were chastised and discarded as selling out and “yellow communist”? Was it because there was no podium to grandstand on this and line up for a ministerial advisor role?
When Buti Manamela was the Secretary of Young Communist League (YCL), he ran campaigns and featured on numerous radio and public fora arguing against the penetrative nature of retail and conglomerate stores into black neighbourhoods through the massive infrastructure roll-out in form of establishment of malls and shopping complexes in townships and villages. At that time, YCL and Manamela were attacked and labelled as anti-progress.
Manamela and YCL’s line of argument was that black-owned supermarkets and tuck shops were facing obliteration and extinction through this development; they suggested that these malls must give a stake to the communities and reserve some space within the malls for local and black business. Again Prof Chris was conspicuously absent in these debates and now opportunistically resurfaces the same line of argument without acknowledgement to validate his thoughts carefully calibrated to suit the mood, time and pace in the current political phase.
His third mistake
In the paper Prof Malikane speaks about how the white monopoly and its subset political regimes under colonialism and apartheid optimised on workers’ pension to accumulate more profit and built investment base which they use to manipulate the economic structure in order to stay in control. He further correctly argues of the international connectedness of this capitalist with other backers.
Moreover, he argues that the major beneficiary of this was the white working class and middle strata. What he conveniently omits in his analysis is the fact that the same pensions of workers which have doubled, if not tripled, since the advent of democracy, are now at the hands of the ANC government and have been for 23 years under the auspices of public investment commission (PIC).
He does not tell us that PIC is in control of over R3 trillion worth of assets. Which black-owned enterprises is PIC investing in? Who is benefiting from this? Who does the deals at PIC? By the way, PIC is the largest stakeholder of the VBS bank which “lent” Jacob Zuma money to repay his dues to the state over the Nkandla debacle.
He also does not tell us about the effect of Regulation 28 which constraints the investment in offshore equities to less than 20% or so. Whilst this is a protectionist approach guiding the affairs of PIC and other pension funds, how does this constrain the ability to build the alternative international network just as the “white capitalist” profoundly and emphatically did and created a radicalised economy within which we live?
His fourth mistake
His views about black capitalists are out of order and worth no attention. The ANC created National Empowerment Fund (NEF) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which they now want to merge with Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) solely to create this “black industrialist” he has missed the bus in making his view known…again!
He makes a thin and blurred distinction between credit-based black capitalists and tender-based black capitalists. Again, other than characterisation no definitive clarity is provided. Meaning that a non-careful reader might miss that. Those who happen to read might know concepts which they will go around throwing without understanding them like we have seen with the recent upheaval of any Jim and Jack talking about white monopoly capital and radical economic transformation. As I said above, it is only mediocre academics who will go around throwing concepts without defining them.
Concepts are potent, they might shape public discourse negatively! Anyway; he says the credit-based black capitalists sit in boards of entities and benefit from the superstructure created by white capital and are sitting at the bottom of the hierarchy in the capitalist structure. He is presumably speaking of Deputy President of the ANC and many others who are in board of directors of mines and other big businesses. He is essentially talking about the national bourgeoisie – Marxist lenses again.
He contradicts his own thoughts of a state being a creation and lever of “white capital” when he sounds sympathetic to the tender-based black capitalist. Through his own admission, this capitalist is depended on the state tender system.
His fifth mistake
He impels the black working class to work collaboratively with the tender-based black capitalist. This is insane! Unless he has been living under the rock, he would know that the sea of unemployment he bemoans in his article, was partly created by the tender system. He speaks selectively about a call for free and decolonised quality education. If his analysis were objective as he postulates, he ought to know that this struggle was being fought concurrently with insourcing of outsourced workers in security, catering, cleaning and garden and landscaping in public higher education institutions.
At the centre of the latter struggle lied the tender-based black capitalist which profited immensely at the expense of masses. If there is any re-living of super exploitation that he says colonial regimes and existing white capital economic system is subjecting the working class; the “tender-based black capitalist” is in the same boat and is not exceedingly more exploitative. Saying the working class must work with tender-based black capitalists and assist in the battle for state capture against the white capitalist is pure insanity!
Working class cannot be commandeered by thugs. At the conclusion of the paper he states that the tender-based black capitalist is unreliable and cannot be trusted; yet he says working class must work collaboratively with it. Pure definition of grandstanding. He knows that this will buy him mileage because the majority of the ANC leaders, especially in the dominate faction currently, have their hands buried in the tender system. If the credit-based black capitalist should be isolated, the tender based black capitalist must also be isolated.
In actual fact, the tender-based capitalist, unlike the credit-based black capitalist which only captured the top leadership of the ANC through stake offers, is more dangerous as it has obliterated the democratic values of the movement and has captured the soul of its membership through vote buying.
In his way forward, Prof Malikane suggests the coming together of various parties and formations to take up war against white capital. What caught my eye is when he clustered national liberation movements. He tells us of Black First Land First – a party liberated by the Guptas which enjoy white media coverage without concrete reasons.
If your job is to advise a Minister who distances himself from your views; then your thoughts are not for public consumption. If you are an advisor to a Minister who travels abroad to convince the very same international network of investors that you bemoan; then you are not well-placed to express an opinion.
If you are an advisor speaking of nationalisation of banks including SARB and other related entities in financial sector while your Minister is on tour to convince the international investment communities which you bemoan on the strength of the institution in the country, you deserve nothing less than to be fired.
Lastly, it is important that as we read, we must open our eyes and avoid being carried away by people who regurgitated the views once expressed by our leaders without acknowledgement. We must not celebrate plagiarism and more so demagogy.
George Mogaladi has led at various levels of the Mass Democratic Movement including SASCO, ANC, SACP and NEHAWU. He is a member of the ANC and SACP in Pretoria.