Economic miracle for black Africans?

Liberals the world over and particularly in South Africa are currently quivering in their socks, as they fear ANC deputy president, Jacob Zuma, might become the country’s next president.

Their new ambition is to join the by now defunct ANC branches to keep Zuma out of the race. In fact, they will do anything to ensure to keep the ANC deputy president away from the presidency.

Allister Sparks, wrote in one of the South African based, but foreign owned and controlled newspapers, “(SA’s president) Mbeki . . . has presided over an economic miracle to follow Nelson Mandela’s political miracle, turning a deathbed economy inherited from the apartheid regime into a prosperous one that has just completed 30 consecutive quarters of sustained growth for the first time in the country’s history”.

But, in reality, the country’s economic and political situations are nowhere near Spark’s realities. Let us firstly, reflect South Africa’s “economic miracle”, as it has also a dire impact on its neighbours and beyond.

A research published in September 2004 shows that eight million black South Africans, or first South Africans, were unemployed then. It amounts to 48 percent of the black African South African labour force.

According to the research, another four million black African South Africans eke out an existence in the informal sector, earning less than one thousand Rand per month. This amount equals about US$125 per month.

The research goes on to reflect that 32 percent of black African South Africans have a formal sector job. Of those lucky to work, 75 percent ‘ about seven million people ‘ earn less than two thousand five hundred Rand per month.

That hailed ‘Black Economic Empowerment (BEE)’ benefited a mere handful of people who really made some money from it. In fact, the BEE deals made over eleven years, between 1994 and 2005, amounted to some three hundred billion Rand out of 1 365 clinched deals. But, they have not delivered any shares to the majority of the black African South African population.

Aforementioned figures are documented in the book “Making Mistakes, Righting Wrongs, Insights into Black Economic Empowerment”, edited by journalist/researcher/author Duma Gqubule.

In his direct criticism of South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, the internationally respected journalist/author/researcher John Pilger writes under the headline, “Moribund social spending is holding back the marginalized majority (of black African South Africans)” in one of South Africa’s Sunday newspapers, ‘Sunday Independent’:

“It is simply false to say redistribution has occurred through ‘reconstruction and development’. The (hailed!) RDP was effectively abandoned, only to be found in moralizing speeches. By all accounts, South Africa’s redistribution has been from poor to rich, with the most cited measure (using government statistics) being the decline of income in black households by nineteen percent from 1995-2000, while white households increased their income by 15 percent.”

Now, where is that South African economic miracle?

Will president Thabo Mbeki’s successor embrace pro-poor policies? Will the G-8 countries allow such policies at all? Will the G-8 and their control mechanisms allow anyone to get into power in South Africa, whom they fear might water the implementation of their policies down?

Issues raised on the ground are now, in whose interest was the ANC destroyed and who really benefits from it?

In his newspaper comment, journalist Allister Sparks claims, “Ours (SA’s) has been a truly remarkable, if not entirely perfect, transition from apartheid authoritarianism to a pretty decent democracy, and from crude group exploitation to affirmative action, black economic empowerment and significantly improved welfare payments.”

Sparks referred to a “democracy with vulnerable moments when infected by a spirit of populist hedonism . . .” reflecting the white fear of African populism, calling for the “need of a stabilising hand to steady the ship (SA’s current political situation)”.

The likes of archbishop Desmond Tutu also entered the ‘debate for presidency of the ANC, calling on ANC deputy president Zuma not to stand for the position of ANC president at the ANC Congress in December 2007. Tutu’s reason is the “question over Zuma’s morality” in that proven false “rape” accusation.

However, it seemed silly of Tutu to speak out on anything, even the most controversial, as he gets discredited every time. He has earned a new title ‘ that of “jester of controversy”.

The criticism this time came from the mouths of babes, who have nothing to lose when they bring him down. ANC Youth League leader, Fikile Mbalula, thundered, “We don’t know that demi-god called Tutu!”

When former National Prosecution Authority (NPA) boss, Bulelani Ngcuka, claimed, they have a “prima facie case of corruption” against the then deputy president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, but it would not stand a chance in a court of law, he had made a strong statement against him and survived. Question is, how was that possible?

The uttering in Durban’s court by retired judge, Hilary Squires, that the accused Durban businessman Shabir Shaik, had a “generally corrupt relationship” referring to Shaik, the French arms manufacturer Thales and Zuma, was good enough to be used as evidence. However, legal experts say, such uttering would not stand the test of time in any court, as it was not a legal assessment.

The critics of the “legal cases” against the ANC deputy president and the debate for the next president of the ANC explain, “those cases have little to do with crime”. They seem to “have to do with current politics”.

Sparks ends his published newspaper analysis by writing that he has the “strong impression that their fight is just a personality scrap and a desire to get their man closer to the national cookie jar for their own collective benefit.”

The reality is there is a division in the ruling ANC with two centers of power. The division is about economic policies, which to date exclude the black African South African majority and include the controlling policies of the G-8.

The majority of black African South Africans look at the “new South Africa” and simply do not like it. New York City Bank’s high ratings of SA’s “emerging economy” mean little to the poor masses of the population.

September 2006
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