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Gordhan or the nation?

07 Apr 2017 at 01:41hrs | Views
The prospects for a genuine revolution, for a radical economic transformation, are not looking good for Zuma and the ANC. The liberation movement is sorely divided

A FEW months ago President Mugabe said South Africa needed another revolution. This was informed by the universally acknowledged gross economic inequalities in that country, where blacks have remained victims of apartheid and whites have maintained their privileged status.

In short, 1994 did not bring benefits for the majority of the black population, while a change of political leadership from white to black sanctified white privileges.

President Jacob Zuma then spoke recently about the need for a new economic trajectory if freedom was to benefit all. He said there was need for a "radical economic transformation". So far it's not clear how that will come about, perhaps not until the African National Congress conference in June.

A radical economic transformation is a war cry. It is a clear declaration of war against the disciples of fiscal restraint, monopoly capitalists who believe blacks deserve to be where they are - at the bottom of the economic rung as hewers of wood.

To achieve that project, Zuma needs people who see the broader picture beyond the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the heart of white capital. Finance minister Pravin Gordhan was not one such person, and he held the key.

We were reminded of the critical position Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay occupied at the time Zimbabwe was embarking on a radical land reform programme. He represented a completely different worldview from what was about to happen. He had to give way. So must Gordhan.

The strangest thing to come out of Gordhan's sacking was the protest by senior members of the ANC, including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who said the dismissal was "unacceptable". The ruling party's "Top Six" was riven down the middle.

Stranger than fiction, the South African Communist Party said it was reviewing its alliance with the ANC. And the country's biggest workers' federation, Cosatu, also came out on the side of capitalists. The consensus almost across the board was that there could be no economy or South Africa without Gubbay, sorry, Gordhan.

They all clamoured for Zuma's resignation and impeachment. They would rather have Gordhan, a Zuma appointee, than Zuma himself. Monopoly capital was now speaking through movements which traditionally should represent the interests and hopes of the poor and downtrodden. Suddenly, they were scared of a radical transformation of South Africa's economy which could benefit victims of apartheid!

Predictably, the Democratic Alliance (South Africa's own version of our MDC-T), monopoly capital's last hope, went to court to challenge President Zuma's constitutional prerogative to reshuffle his cabinet, and to decide who he works with.

Not even a white court could possibly wring a victory out of such a hopeless case.

Thankfully for Zuma, the ANC women and youth wings came out in support of their leader. The gross inequalities were a time bomb, they warned.

A revolution is needed, but whether that is inevitable is yet to be seen. It's not looking good.

This is where the old, younger Julius Malema should have come in handy. But once he helped get Zuma into the presidency, he began to behave like he was bigger than the ANC. In the end he was fired. He formed what was tantalisingly called the Economic Freedom Fighters, promising to redistribute land, mines and financial institutions without paying compensation to whites, whom he regularly called "thieves".

Until of course he was "captured" by white capital to abet the war against the Gupta family and the ANC. His movement found itself firmly in the tender arms of Helen Zille, helping the DA whittle down the ANC's vote in most urban settlements. In parliament it has become a veritable nuisance since Nkandlagate. The EFF has made it its business to ridicule the head of state, impair his dignity and office, all in the service of the DA with whom it now regularly cooperates to frustrate ANC programmes. Economic Freedom Fighters has become a ridiculous misnomer for what Malema now stands for.

That is why we think the prospects for a genuine revolution, for a radical economic transformation, are not looking good for Zuma and the ANC. The liberation movement is sorely divided. It matters little that the "rebels", as Tsvangirai would have labelled Ramaphosa and Co, made a make-believe apology for their public disagreement with the president. At the heart of that disagreement is a lack of a shared vision, something so fundamental in the execution of a revolution.

The acres of space devoted to the love for Pravin Gordhan speak louder than a picture. This is a bold statement against economic change in South Africa.

And also, inauspiciously, the resistance manifests most glaringly at a time the ANC has become weaker and lost a lot of goodwill. It can no longer muster enough votes to change the constitution the way Zanu-PF was able to, even if it blocks an impeachment motion against Zuma.

This is a war the African National Congress has postponed for too long, or put another way, a war it has been dreading. Does it now have the stomach for it? For there will be lusty resistance. That is why the name Pravin Gordhan has become inseparable from the economy. The meaning is clear enough: blacks

cannot be trusted to run an economy, and the economy is the source of power. That can never be surrendered to those who support President Zuma.

Sorry reader. The point of this contribution is not to mourn vicariously for South Africa's poor. No. I am more concerned about the state and future of Zimbabwe's pioneering land revolution whose echoes now reverberate in South Africa, better still, in the ANC, but most accurately, in Jacob Zuma. Zimbabwe is a very small nation whose radical economic changes have become a global issue, earning it more than once, heated debate in the British parliament, the American congress and a place at the United Nations.

Zimbabwe's revolution cannot be successfully defended in isolation. That is why a weakened ANC which cannot execute an economic revolution is not good for South Africa, is not good for our own revolution. I am thus alarmed that a nascent student revolution under the banner of #RhodesMustFall ended with the symbolic removal of Rhodes' statute from the University of Cape Town. There are no student movements in support of a radical economic transformation. For how long can Zimbabwe stand alone, more so given the determined efforts to grow the DA just across the border?

Ratings agencies!

At the same time there are determined efforts internally and externally to blame Zuma in particular and the ANC in general for the state of the South African currency. The removal of Gordhan has sapped all confidence in the economy the same way Zimbabwe's currency was gutted through black market activities.

Ratings agencies have come handy, degrading South Africa's investment grade to junk status, which makes it expensive to borrow. And, you guessed it, deters foreign investment. So Standard and Poor's Global Ratings, Moody's Investors Services and Fitch Ratings are hard at work telling investors that without Gordhan South Africa has become a hardhat area.

For the uninitiated, rating agencies are firms which "should" do a due diligence on a company or an economy and advise potential investors or lenders on its ability to repay its debt as they fall due. But the global financial crisis which began in America in 2006 has exposed these ratings as no more than confidence tricks, very open to manipulation.

Moody's was recently made to pay US$864 million for its role in that global scandal. S&P's also recently agreed to pay more than R17 billion for its role, in which they gave triple A ratings to dubious companies and individuals who could not honour their debts. Billions were lost. The US government was forced to folk out $700 billion of taxpayers' money to buy bad debt from distressed financial institutions left exposed by these fraudsters.

But fortunately for them, few economists are brave enough to expose these fraudsters who today sit in judgment, blaming Zuma for the fall of the rand without admitting their dastardly role.

That is why I insist a radical economic transformation in SA will be too hard a war for the ANC, especially once Zuma leaves office in 2019. It needs once again "amadoda sibili". And the sustainability of Zimbabwe's own revolution will depend on the outcome of that war.

Malema's sudden capture is a warning that the land reform is in fact reversible. Add to him the volte-face by tried and tested veterans of the struggle like Dr Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru. In the end it's a matter of how many people you can fool, and then change a national constitution.

Source - zimpapers
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