The police are regularly called in to suppress uprisings which, on the surface, are about bad service delivery or racist incidents, but deep down they are about a South Africa that is being torn apart by the intransigence of white South Africa to share this country and its resources with the black majority; writes Johan H.B. Raubenheimer.
When Nelson Mandela was released on February 11 1990, thousands of people gathered at the Victor Verster prison near Paarl in the hot summer sun to welcome him. Among them were journalists from across the world – but most of the South Africans present that day were black, with the exception of a handful of white struggle veterans and liberals.
The optimism in the air was nevertheless tangible. South Africa would no longer be the skunk of the world, we would become the new pearl of Africa, offering a bright future not only for the white minority, but also for the millions of black people who, until now, were third class citizens in their own country.
Fast forward 27 years to May 2017 and the latest Employment Equity Report of the Department of Labor, it shows a South Africa where whites still occupy a staggering 68% of top management positions, and black people only 14.4%. A South Africa where numerous JSE companies have been fined for not implementing employment laws, and many others are on the verge of being fined.
South Africa remains one of the, if not the most, unequal society on earth. Our Gini coefficient, which measures that inequality, is consistently one of the highest in the world. Despite a new, but small black elite and a slowly emerging black middle class, millions of desperately poor black people live in shacks, unemployed or under-employed and often surrounded by posh (mainly white) suburbs where swimming pools and expensive cars are the norm.
What went wrong, and where are we going from here?
The truth is that black people were sold a lie in 1994 – the lie of the Rainbow Nation. The lie that once we can all vote we will all be equal. They underestimated the ability of racist white capital to ensure that power and money remain firmly in the hands of white people.
Currently we have two opposing forces, both of which could eventually drag us into a civil war. On the one hand, we have local and overseas capitalists which are deeply uncomfortable with the fact that South Africa is now part of BRICS, an alternative to Western economic and political domination.
In March last year, renowned American investigative journalist Eric Draitser wrote an article entitled “BRICS Under Attack: The Empire’s Destabilizing Hand Reaches Into South Africa”, where he analysed the nature and extent of Western interference in South Africa in order to ensure the continuation of their economic and political control of the Global South.
White monopoly capital also hates the fact that our current government recently announced the launch of RET, or Radical Economic Transformation – which aims to completely restructure the country’s economy so that it will benefit everyone and not only a handful of already filthy rich fat cats.
On the other hand, we have growing unrest among the millions of South Africa’s poor black people. In townships across the country, the police are regularly called in to suppress uprisings which on the surface are about bad service delivery or racist incidents, but deep down they are about a South Africa that is being torn apart by the intransigence of white South Africa to share this country and its resources with the black majority.
Being poor does not mean being stupid or blind. What will happen if White Monopoly Capital manages to topple Zuma, or perhaps even the ANC? Does anyone really expect tens of millions of desperately poor black people to do nothing when they realise they have been sold out a second time? That their leaders such as Julius Malema have been co-opted by racist white capital?
If one studies South Africa’s social media, the term ‘civil war’ is used more and more frequently by blacks who increasingly feel they have exhausted all peaceful alternatives.
There is one final opportunity for white monopoly capital to come to the table without hidden agendas, without once again trying to prevent or delay this country from being shared equitably by all its people. But that window is closing fast.
The question is; do they realise the urgency of the situation?
Johan H.B. Raubenheimer (@Raubies) is an activist, entrepreneur and freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa. He has a B.Com(Hons) degree and a financial background.