Guptas are just a red herring
The EFF is deflecting attention from the true threat - white capital, writes Andile Mngxitama.
The carefully crafted narrative that the social, economic and political problems of South Africa are reducible to the Gupta family, not white monopoly capital, culminated in the call “TheGuptasMustGo”. How was this narrative created and whose interests does it serve?
The fundamental contradiction in South Africa has always been recognised by the whole liberation movement (the ANC, Pan Africanist Congress, Black Consciousness Movement) as settler colonialism that gives rise to white monopoly capitalism, which in turn renders the black majority powerless.
So how did the gaze turn away from this historical enemy of black liberation to the Guptas so neatly?
In political analysis the intentions of the actors don’t often matter - what matters is the impact of their actions. So it matters little to say one is involved in “economic freedom” when one’s actions and their consequences entrench the status quo.
That is why it’s so important that all political movements have a clear ideology if they wish to be on the side of liberation - otherwise they risk “talking left and walking right”.
The narrative that the Guptas are the main problem was hatched in London around the time that the EFF was seeing global “investors” subject to the imperialist Chatham House Rule.
In the room at Chatham House were, among others, representatives of Queen Elizabeth such as the notorious servant of her majesty, one Lord Robin Renwick, the man entrusted with the interests of the British Crown in the Zimbabwean negotiations, resulting in the “Lancaster Agreement”, which essentially left the land in the hands of the defeated settler colonialists.
Renwick was later sent to South Africa during our transition to “democracy”, and again ensured the land and economy remained in colonialist hands.
Soon after their return from London, EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu wrote a missive in which he turned political analysis on its head, by among other things, branding the Guptas “colonialists” who controlled the state president. Coincidentally, global mouthpieces of imperialism - such as The Independent in London, Bloomberg and The New York Times - ran with the same narrative of the demonisation of the Guptas.
The Guptas can at best be described as an emergent capitalist class but certainly not “colonialists”.
The angle that has been missed is that white capital in South Africa and in the global networks is threatened by the phenomenal business success of the Guptas.
In South Africa the hegemony of white capital revolves around Afrikaner and English factions of white monopoly capital.
The English arm of this capitalism was boosted by the listing of the top five South African companies on the London Stock Exchange under Thabo Mbeki. The move heralded the biggest repatriation of South African wealth to the UK in recent times and effectively turned London into the financial capital of South Africa. The consequence is that London has
inordinate influence over political and economic events in South Africa. If you lose the ear of London, you risk to lose your place on the South African political scene.
President Jacob Zuma’s association with the Guptas seems to be part of a strategy to look more towards the East.
I have written elsewhere that the actions of Zuma that confound and enrage so many are not so illogical.
He is involved in what I call a “parallel power praxis”, which is essentially about abandoning the state and its pro-white structures, which are enforced by constitutional principles to ensure white power, irrespective of who has the majority in Parliament.
Zuma seems to be running a parallel system to the modern pro-white liberal state. The ruling party, having failed to transform the colonial state, is abandoning it and finding ways to circumvent it through parallel processes.
Mbeki’s presidency was about being good at running the inherited apartheid state and we got no meaningful result from it. Zuma’s presidency is about creating a parallel power to this state and the jury is out on its impact. As the main part of the “parallel power structure”, the Guptas by all accounts have been beating white capital at its own game. The labyrinth of business networks and deals that seem to be facilitated or funded by the state frustrates the interests of white capital.
It seems that since the Fifa World Cup windfall, which served white monopoly capital’s construction cartel, mega projects have been going the way of the Guptas - including perhaps the most staggering development, the nuclear energy project.
It is alleged this deal would benefit the Guptas’ uranium mines. This is besides the claims about opening new frontiers in business - for example, with Denel’s expansion into Asia.
White capital is fuming at what they see as upstart “Indians” raiding their vaults. The response of white capital seems to be political instead of economic.
This reaction to the Gupta family exposes a deep hypocrisy. What the family is accused of doing is exactly how capitalism behaves the world over. More specifically, white Afrikaner and English capital in South Africa was created with the direct support of the state.
The focus on the Guptas serves only to shield white capital from view. It’s a decoy to turn our gaze away from history. The call for the Guptas to go must be seen as a defence of white capital.
The call is dangerous as it involves the demagogic mobilisation of anti-Indian stereotypes and feeds into xenophobic tropes to organise the most backward sentiments in society and deflect attention from the real source of the South African problem, which is white capital created from colonialism and apartheid.
It boggles the mind how anyone can call for the expulsion of the Guptas while a similar call is not made for the foreign-owned Lonmin mine, whose exploitation of black workers led to the Marikana massacre.
Why is there no call for the Oppenheimers and the Ruperts to go or to account for their wealth, created from the super-exploitation and dispossession of blacks? Why is there no anger at how the Swiss company Glencore tried to muscle Eskom into buying its coal at exorbitant prices?
The focus on the Guptas looks increasingly like a political strategy to rescue white capital from curry-eating upstarts who are intruding into spaces reserved for white wealth accumulation.
What the EFF has mastered is the art of turning the real rage of the excluded majority, who have been badly served by the ruling party since 1994, into political capital so as to bargain with white global capital.
As long as white capitalism survives, white power will be guaranteed and racism will remain a reality.
Proxy wars will be invented to distract the angry youth from the real enemy. The consequences in the short term may be the kind of black-on-black violence that threatened to break out during the State of the Nation address in the streets of Cape Town.
Scapegoats such as the Guptas will be identified as white capital continues with business as usual.
* Andile Mngxitama is an associate of the Sankara Policy and Political School.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.