December 5, 2017


Filed under: mphutlane wa bofelo,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 11:26 am


Ditsela National Educator Conference

This paper seeks to examine RET in the context of Southern Africa, with a particular emphasis of the current discourse on RET in South Africa, and to raise questions about the systemic, structural and institutional arrangements within which the RET discourse takes place in South Africa and therefore theoretical and practical issues and questions that the dominant RET trajectory has for the working-class agenda. To sketch the South African context, the paper provides a summary of the ruling party’s framing and\or location of the RET discourse and its outline of the objectives of RET. This is followed with critical questions for debate in relation the framework and objectives mentioned above. The paper then locates the discourse on RET in SA in the context of the historical roots of racial, class , gender and related oppression in South Africa, the continuities thereof in the current dispensation and the implications thereof for the transformation. It traces such roots to a dynamic intersection between capitalist accumulation, colonialism and racism and therefore posits the anti-thesis and synthesis as a radical project that simultaneously advance socialization, de-colonialization, democratization and put redistribution, redress, restitution , reparation and reconstruction at the centre of the political economy and social policy trajectory. Thus, the paper reframes the debate from talking about RET to talking about radical social, political and economic transformation in order to emphasize that the democratization of the polity and democratization of the economy are inseparable and intertwined and should be pursued simultaneously instead of being viewed as discrete processes to be pursued and achieved in a linear fashion or in stages

“To be radical is to go to the root of the matter. For man, however, the root is man himself.”
― Karl Marx

This education conference of Ditsela takes place on the occasion of the anniversary of two key moments in history from which we can glean critical lessons related to the theme of the conference and the topic of Radical Economic Transformation. This year marks 150 since Karl Marx wrote the seminal piece, Das Kapital: Kritek der Polischen Oekonomie (The Capital: Critique of Political Economy) and hundred years since the Great Proletariat Revolution of 1919. Marx’s Capital and the October Revolution are of particular relevance to today’s topic in so far as their provision of historical and dialectic materialism as scientific tools of analysis that exposed how the problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality , the cycles of booms and busts associated with capitalism and the series of financial crises the world has experience originate and are rooted in the intrinsic contradictions within the capitalist system and therefore that sustainable solutions to these has to be sought outside of the logic, values and structure of the capitalist system. Marxists and post-Marxists theorists have identified some of the factors intrinsic to the logic and structure of capitalism that account for the crisis as (1) the myth of the self-regulating market,(2) neoliberalism unbridled greed of accumulation, (3) crisis of over-accumulation and the crisis of over production and (4) the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.
The myth of the self-regulating market is dealt with extensively by Karl Polanyi in his book, The Great Transformation. Polanyi adequately explains how the economy is connected and subordinated to politics, religion and social relations and that the institutions and mechanisms of markerts self-regulation cannot exist without annihilating human and natural substance of society and turning labor, human beings into pure commodities. The notion of a self-regulating market is based on the idea of Capitalism as a system in which the market is allowed to own and control the use of property in accord with their own interests, and where the invisible hand of the pricing mechanism coordinates supply and demand in markets in a way that is automatically in the best interests of society. (Scott. 2006).
The doctrine of the invisible hand of the market is contradicted by the view of capitalism as socio-political system as well as economic system constituting of three levels, namely
(a) Markets which involves issues of patterns of ownership and control of the production, distribution and consumption of wealth and resources; and constitutes of an interaction between market factors (labor, land, capital, and technology), product markets- goods and services, firms and consumers.
(b) Institutional foundations – policy regime, regulators, social infrastructure and physical infrastructure, which is the domain of government.
(c) The political authority – that administers the system in the form of direct and indirect participation in the economy through administrative and entrepreneurial role such as operating SOE, appropriation, or buying, selling and growing of SOEs, and enforcing laws & regulations & regulations, maintaining infrastructure, passing new laws, issuing new regulation and building new infrastructure. (Scott. 2006: 3-13). Expatiating on the idea of capitalism as a three level system, Bruce R. Scott asserts that Ideology, culture and the political structure including civil society have a mayor influences upon how a democratic society works (Scott 2006:16), and stresses that:
…market frameworks are created through political processes and regulated through administrative agencies, neither of which is directly controlled by the economic actors themselves. In short, the point is that economics is intimately connected to political and administrative processes.

When we take economics out of this broader context we gain something in the clarity with which we can study how markets operate according to the laws of supply and demand, but we inevitably lose the perspective that market frameworks are societal constructs created and legitimated by legislatures and not by the economic actors themselves. (Scott 2006: 17-18). This understanding of capitalism as a sociopolitical and economic system is important in the light of the dominant tendency to frame the Radical Economic Transformation on the assumption that South Africa has achieved political transformation and now require to transit to economic transformation. This framing not only holds the dangers of presenting the democratization of the polity and the democratization of the economy as discrete projects that can be achieved separately and\or in a linear fashion, one leading to the other, it also holds the dangers of equating Radical Economic Transformation with merely de-racialising the ownership and control of the economy. The reality, however, is that the South African politics and polity has not been fully democratised into a participatory democratic state that provide people active participation in the design, implementation, monitoring and review of development programmes, social policy agenda and political economy trajectory of the country nor is it characterised by popular control of public institutions and worker-control of workplaces and other social institutions.
The democratic deficit created by the inadequacy of bourgeois liberal representative democracy is in your face in South Africa, and so is the growing political, social, economic and ideological distance between broader society and the social, economic and political elite. The undemocratic attributes, injustices and inequities of the economy and the undemocratic attributes, injustices and inequities of the political system are complementary and inseparable. The opulence, greed and insatiable accumulation proclivities of Monopoly Capital is prescribed, protected, abetted and entrenched by the constitutional, legal and policy framework laid down by the governing Black comprador bourgeois class. The social lifestyles and political and economic conduct of the Black social, political and corporate elite is prescribed by the standards of Big Capital. The democratic deficit in the politics is the function and creation of the democratic deficit in the economy and the democratic deficit in the economy is reflective of the democratic deficit in the politics. This perspective is useful in interrogating how working-class organizations position themselves in relating to the complex and tricky relationship between the state and the various fractions of capital. This question is important in Southern Africa where there seem to be a direct link between internal contradictions within the state and the territorial battles between the various segments of local, trans-national and global capital.
In Southern Africa there is an emerging pattern of the emergent Black capitalists and sections of the ruling Black comprador bourgeosie enlisting nationalist and anti-imperialist language and the transformation discourse to recruit the working-class on its side in its territorial war with other fractions of capital over who must turn nation’s wealth and state institutions and public resources into their private property the most. The paternalistic attitude of the regimes and regiments of capitalist globalization towards Africa and the domination of capitalist monopolies by White capitalists -courtesy of the legacies and continuities of apartheid-capitalism – create an enabling environment for the Black political and social elites to couch its ambitions to be the new capitalist bosses behind the transformation agenda. This often takes the form of framing the transformation agenda as the African agenda to veil class interests and class contradictions behind the curtain of nationalism. To what extent does this create possibilities for the transformation agenda to be residualizes into a de-racialisation agenda, thereby contributing to giving capital a new breath of life in the form of a non-racial face that allows it to thrive without racial fetters? To what extent is the transformation agenda constructed within the logic of the market? How vigilant and how much capacity, insight, power and influence does labour has to take the transformation discourse outside the logic and dictates of the regimes and regiments of capital?

In her book, The Accumulation of Capital, Rosa Luxemburg expounds on Marx’s ideas on expanded reproduction to explain how the capitalist system is locked the inescapable contradictions and inherent crises. Luxemburg argues: “Capital cannot accumulate without the aid of non-capitalist organizations, nor on the other hand, can it tolerate their continued existence side by side. Only the continuous and progressive disintegration of non-capitalist organizations makes accumulation of capital possible. “(Luxembourg 2003, 397)
One can’t agree more with Rosa Luxemburg on this observation. Capitalism needs labour to turn raw material into goods and services. Capitalism needs political and social institutional foundations to survive. But capitalism does not only deplete and degrades the environment in its quest for super profits. It depends on the suppression of labour interests, social demands and state power for unbridled accumulation of profits and private wealth. Therefore capitalist greed for accumulation results in the destruction of the very non-capital actors that are critical for its survival. In this sense, Capitalism digs its own grave. But capitalism cannot avoid the grave. It cannot free itself from its entrapment to crisis and to the generation of poverty, unemployment and inequalities without eroding its very logic and structure. Updating Luxembourg thesis on the Crisis of Over accumulation in the context of the 1980, Walden Bello describes the financial crisis of that period as
‘the intensification of one of the central crisis or contradictions of global capitalism: the crises of over-production, also known as over-accumulation or over-capacity. This is the tendency for capitalism to build up in the context of heightened inter-capitalist competition, tremendous productive capacity that outruns the population’s capacity to consume owing to income inequalities that limit popular purchasing power. The result is an erosion of profitability, leading to economic downspin” (Bello 2009)
Bello observes that Capitalism mooted out neoliberal restructuring, structural adjustments – extensive accumulation, rapid integration of semi-capitalist, non-capitalist and pre-capitalist areas in the global market economy, and financialization as gateways out of the crisis.
The problem with investing in financial sector operations is that it is tantamount to squeezing value out of already created value. It may create profit, yes, but it does not create new value — only industry, agricultural, trade, and services create new value. Because profit is not based on value that is created, investment operations become very volatile and prices of stocks, bonds, and other forms of investment can depart very radically from their real value — for instance, the stock of Internet startups may keep rising to heights unknown, driven mainly by upwardly spiraling financial valuations.
Profits then depend on taking advantage of upward price departures from the value of commodities, then selling before reality enforces a “correction,” that is a crash back to real values. The radical rise of prices of an asset far beyond real values is what is called the formation of a bubble. Profitability being dependent on speculative coups, it is not surprising that the finance sector lurches from one bubble to another, or from one speculative mania to another. Because it is driven by speculative mania, finance driven (Bello. 2009)
In their book, The Crisis in South Africa: Neoliberalism, Financialization and Uneven and Combined Development, Sam Ashman, Ben Fine, Susan Newman explain the devastating result of the financialization route in South Africa:
…in the context of South African production, financialization has produced a particular combination of short-term capital inflows (accompanied by rising consumer debt largely spent on luxury items) and a massive long-term outflow of capital as major ‘domestic’ corporations have chosen offshore listing and to internationalize their operations while concentrating within South Africa on core profitable MEC sectors. The result, even before the impact of the current crisis, was a jobless form of growth and the persistence of mass poverty for the majority alongside rising living standards for a small minority, including new black elites. (Ashman et al. 2011).
The fact that the internal contradiction within the logic and structure of capitalism are at the centre of the crisis of poverty, unemployment and inequality is further amplified in the account of Combined and Uneven Development in South Africa provided by Ashman et al (2011).
South Africa is now, ‘officially’, the most unequal society in the world – though there seems to be a macabre rivalry with Brazil for this status. The poorest 20 per cent of South Africans receive 1.6 per cent of total income while the richest 20 per cent benefit from 70 per cent according to the South African Government’s Development Indicators 2009. In the most recent United Nation’s Human Development Index of ‘wellbeing’, South Africa fell one place to 129th out of 182. Before the global economic crisis, South Africa had one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. It now officially stands at 35.4 per cent or one third of the workforce. The continuing relevance of Marx’s notion that capital generates and draws upon a reserve army of labour is surely demonstrated by South Africa, though Marx could not have foreseen its members would struggle to survive in the context of the highest levels of HIV infection in the world. This helps explain why, according to the UN, average life expectancy for South Africans is just 51.5 years, even though South Africa is classified as a middle income economy. (Ashman et al 2011)

This description of the impact of neoliberalism and capitalist globalization in South Africa underscores Bello’s assertion that the recent financial crisis is not a crisis of the neoliberal capitalism but the crisis of capitalism itself. (Bello. 2009). One can go further to suggest that the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality are not the products of neoliberal capitalism but are an integral part of the logic and structure of capitalism; and in South Africa reflects how the Apartheid economy and its continuities in the current juncture could in many ways be described by the notion of uneven development in the sense of fast growth in one segment of the population or economy does not support development in the same society as a whole. This then is the context in which we have to engage with the Radical Economic Transformation discourse in Southern Africa.

ANC’s outline of the context and objectives of radical economic transformation
The African National Congress’s Discussion Document on Economic Transformation locates the discourse on RET in South Africa in its resolve at its 53rd National Conference at Mangaung in 2012 to pursue what it refers to as the second phase of the transition from apartheid colonialism to a national democratic society. According to the Mangaung resolution the focus the second phase of transition is effecting economic transformation and democratic consolidation in order to improve the quality of life of all South Africans and to promote nation-building and social cohesion and the means to attain this are promoting growth and development, increasing state-led infrastructure , focusing on using local content and local companies, and giving effect to the National Development Plan , the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan to stimulate growth, reindustrialization , transforming the mining sector , promoting youth employment, developmental state , maintain supportive macroeconomic policy framework – reconstruction, growth and development. It also locates RET within the minimum demands of the Freedom Charter. The discussion document presents the objectives of RET policy interventions as:

• Reducing unemployment and youth unemployment
• Returning land to our people and supporting land reform
• increasing Black ownership and control of the economy
• activating small business and cooperatives
• strengthening social justice and conditions for the poor and working class
• improving the employment impact on infrastructure projects
• reducing inequality and poverty
• Dismantling monopoly practices and structures
• Asserting South Africa’s interests in the global economy
• Improving integration into African economy
• Stimulating inclusive growth
Questions for the Trade union Movement and the Working-class:
Some of the critical questions that need serious engagement with insofar as the framework of RET as articulated by the ruling party are:
1. To what extent will the achievement of the objectives of RET be impacted upon by the current disarticulation between the social policy pronouncements that require significant social spending on housing, healthcare, education, social grants (etc) and an economic policy path that is locked in the Washington Consensus logic of reduced tariff rates, tax incentives to big capital, bail out to big capital in different disguises, trade liberalization, flexible labor, de-regulation and down-sizing of the public sector?
2. Many of the objectives of the RET outlined above were\are the pronounced objectives of Growth and Redistribution (GEAR), Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) National Growth Path (NGP), Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), and National Development Plan (NDP). Thus far these policy programs that the discussion document use as a frame of reference for RET, have produced little in terms of significantly altering racial, class and gender based power and social relations accrued from the legacies and continuities of racial-capitalism. What is it in theoretic and practical terms will or need to be done differently for RET to lead in the direction of practical overhaul of the apartheid geography and the apartheid economy?
3. Is it possible for RET located within the framework of pursuit of the objectives of the NDP to lead to overhaul of the apartheid geography and the apartheid economy without paying serious attention to the problems and issues that organized labor and civil society have raised about the NDP? For instance, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU has accused the NDP of selectively drawing from certain government policies and programmes and ignoring others, ignoring or contradicting critical elements of the NGP/IPAP, which are supposed to be governments lead strategies over the medium term. This, Cosatu asserts creates confusion as to which policy prevails, and undermined the greater degree of co-ordination which was emerging through e.g. the infrastructure plan, and the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC). To what extent does locating RET within the rubric of NDP without addressing the concerns workers and the poor have raised about NDP holds the possibility of raising the policy confusion alluded to by Cosatu? In its critic of the NDP, National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) has argued that the NDP:
a) leaves intact the power relations of Colonialism of a Special Type
b) It is therefore a major rightwing deviation from the Freedom Charter and thus, it paves a path that derails a socialist-oriented NDR
c) Ideologically, it is firmly anchored in neo-liberalism and does not even represent a shadow of the revolutionary tradition of the national liberation movement
d) GEAR is indeed a living and growing document, it had 66 pages in 1996. It has now grown to 430 pages in the form of the NDP!
e) We have consistently argued that there are very strong parallels between the NDP and DA policy
f) Specifically we have argued that the NDP:
i) Does not have a plan on how to restructure the economy
ii) Does not have a plan on how to fundamentally transform ownership and control patterns of the economy
iii) Plans to roll-out infrastructure to further reinforce raw mineral export dependence and not broad-based industrial development
iv) Minimizes the role of the state in the economy
v) Seeks to de-regulate the labour market further and to further weaken working class power, and is thus thoroughly anti-working class in its outlook
vi) Operates within the neo-liberal macroeconomic framework and broadly, and thus offers no hope for fundamental social and economic transformation
The question that remains in this regard is: to what extent is there a match or mismatch between the goals of RET and the goals of NDP? What are workers and communities going to do to ensure that the conceptualization and implementation of RET addresses the issues and problems they have with elements of NDP and other macrocosmic policies of the current government? Related to this is the big question of the extent to which Radical Economic Transformation can be achieved without rolling back some of the critical aspects of the CODESA agreements.
The Namibian and Zimbabwean experience is instructive in this regard. Herbert Jauch provides this insightful account of the Namibian experience:
In its 1976 political programme, the South West African People’s (SWAPO) envisaged Radical economic transformation but did not implement it upon assuming power. In the run-up to independence in the late 1980s, negotiations with the Western Contact Group resulted in certain constitutional principles which included the protection of private property. Thus neither the land that was stolen through genocide nor the control of multinationals over mineral and fishing resources was even touched. As a result, colonial economic structures remained in place after independence and there was not even talk of the need for radical economic transformation amongst the political leadership. An arrangement (although sometimes uneasy) between the old and the new elite was reached and economic changes were limited to some modest reforms such as affirmative action measures and more bargaining rights for unions. Working class organisations failed to mount a systematic challenge to push for radical economic transformation. Critical left voices were either co-opted into government structures or remained in NGOs that were mostly donor-dependent. Trade unions’ militancy declined steadily over the years and despite some occasional radical positions on land and privatization, unions overall did not manage to push for radical economic transformation. This left working class interests stranded. A few years ago, Namibia’s second trade union federation, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) developed its own policy proposals. This at least signaled an intention to tackle broader socio-economic issues and not be confined to a narrow collective bargaining agenda. (Jauch.2017)
In Zimbabwe a similar situation prevailed. Despite the socialist orientation of Zanu (PF) at the time it ascended to power, it became constrained by the Lancaster House Arrangement Like South Africa and Namibia, Zimbabwe had the advantage and opportunity to learn from African countries that received independence and received advises from statesmen from these countries. Based on Mozambique’s experience after it had chased the Portuguese out of the country and embarked on an intensive nationalization program, Samora Machel cautioned Zimbabwe against post-independence revolutionary zeal, and Julius Nyerere implored with President Robert Gabriel Mugabe to preserve the Jewel of Africa – referring to Zimbabwe’s relatively developed and diversified economy. (Chitambara et al 2011). The Mozambican experience that Machel implored Zimbabwe to learn from indicates the barriers that the economy dominated by beneficiaries of settler-colonialism and racial-capitalism hold for post-independent Southern African countries. It underscores the fact that Nyerere Should has qualified his plea to Zimbabwe to keep the jewel of Africa with a caution about the hollowness of hoping to leverage whatever positive elements of the inherited economy without addressing the realities of a disarticulated economy, characterised by a disharmony between its various parts and the existence of tiny enclaves of opulence and filthy riches alongside oceans of poverty and wretchedness. In this regard, it is instructive to examine the observation of Chitambara et al (2011) that:
….if Zimbabwe was a “jewel” at independence; it was certainly a flawed one. The inherited economy was based on the philosophy of white supremacy that resulted in the evolution of a relatively well-developed and modern formal sector, employing about one million people (a fifth of the labor force) , that existed alongside an undeveloped and backward rural economy , the home of 70 percent of the Black population. The ‘jewel’ was the ‘enclave’ part of the economy, which had been developed on the ruthless dispossession of the source of livelihood of the majority of the people, in particular their access to land, which forced them into wage employment. Movement across these structures was strictly controlled such that the prevailing relationship between them was an exploitative one. (Chitambara et al (2011).
The late Zambian economist, Guy Mhone has written extensively about enclavity, primitive accumulation, migration and rural marginalization and labor absorptive capacity in Southern Africa and how the economy characterised by enclavity thwarted and arrested possibilities of pro-poor development, and inclusive and shared growth Zambia.

In South Africa, many theorists have employed Trotsky’s thesis of Combined and Uneven Development to highlight the systemic and structural barriers created by the continuities of an enclave economy accruing from settler-colonial racial-capitalism. This highlights the importance of strategic policies simultaneously aimed, building the capacity of State Owned Enterprises, enhancing the efficacy Private Public Partnerships, facilitating active participation of indigenous people in the economy through skill development, business support and affirmative action programmes and transforming patterns of ownership and control of the economy through redistribution and redress programs and reconstruction and social policy programs aimed towards the overhaul of the socioeconomic and physical or geographic structures of racial segregation apartheid geography. Zimbabwe’s Transitional National Development Plan indicated some sense of learning from other African countries. It declared that in some countries in Africa growth and development was impeded by external and internal constraints that include inappropriate policies and strategies, misallocation of human and material resources building costly, unproductive and often unnecessary capacity. The Transitional National Development Plan went further to mention the results of suck skewed policies as uneven development, stagnation, and decline, leading to no significant and sustained improvement in the living standards of a people as a whole. (Chitambara et al (2011). However the constraints of Lancaster House agreement, the impositions of the IMF and the World Bank and lack of political will and courage to carve an alternative developmental path saw the Zimbabwe National Union -Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) government religiously implementing the Structural Adjustment Programmes, much to the disadvantage of the working-class and the poor. The rigorous adoption and implementation of Effective Structural Adjustment Programs (ESAP) in Zimbabwe once again proved that liberalization and financialization is not a panacea to underdevelopment.

The Zimbabwean government inherited the most developed financial sector in Southern Africa, with four commercial banks, two discount houses, three merchant banks, three building societies, three finance companies, the Post Office Savings Bank, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, a large number pension and provident funds, three development finance institutions, including Agricultural Finance Corporations established in 1924 to fund agricultural projects and two stockbroking firms. (Chitambara et al (2011). These highly segmented financial institutions were not changed in any fundamental way by the new government in the first decade of independence, making the financial services to remain exclusive of the majority of the population, available only to urbanites that constitute less than thirty percent of the population. (Chitambara et al (2011). Under the rubric of ESAP, Zimbabwe embarked on a rapid financialization project, based on the logic that a well-developed financial sector plays a casual and central role in promoting socioeconomic development and that financial development reduces income inequality and absolute poverty.
Based on the argument that excessive regulations and controls interfere with competition and make banks less efficient, more fragile and reduce industry’s access to finance, the Zimbabwean government adopted the liberalization of the interest regime and its transformation into a market-based framework as its strategy to mobilize savings. This strategy is in line with the theoretical underpinning of the financial sector reforms that emphasizes the link between interest rates and savings and postulates that liberalization will, amongst others, increase financial savings and improve the quality and quantity of investments and that increase in domestic interest rates relative to foreign rates will encourage capital flow thereby augmenting domestic savings, resulting in a large pool of loanable funds. (Chitambara et al (2011). The reforms introduced by Zimbabwe in this regard were
• relaxation of regulations pertaining entry of new financial institutions
• the government committed itself an exchange-rate policy that allowed Zimbabwean dollar to depreciate over time by the inflation differential between Zimbabwe and its major trading countries
• Zimbabwean residents and companies were allowed to open foreign-currency denominated accounts with authorized dealers in Zimbabwe
• foreigners were allowed to purchase shares in the Zimbabwean stock exchange subject to 25 per cent limit on a counter , with a single investor limited to 5 percent
• restrictions on access to domestic borrowings by foreigners was abolished
• in February 1995 Zimbabwe agreed to commit to article 8 of the IMF (Chitambara et al (2011).

Chitambara et al (2011) observes that financial liberalization not only deregulated interest rates but also facilitated the onset of the first stage of financial deepening – the emergence of new financial intermediaries and banks, with a number of banking institutions increasing by more than three folds by 1990, constituting fourteen commercial banks, four merchant banks, three finance houses, six discount houses and five building society. The fact that most of the new entrants in the financial sector were owned by indigenous Zimbabweans makes the banking sector one of the sectors in which economic empowerment of the indigenous was achieved smoothly. (Chitambara et al (2011). However, the most important question, which is critical, especially for South Africans – is did the well-developed and diversified, and relatively indigenized financial sector result in socioeconomic development? Did financial development contribute to the reduction of income inequality and absolute poverty? Did the economic empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans translate into the broader empowerment of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe as a collective or to their social development and economic development?
An answer to this question is a big NO or as South Africans would say, for the underclasses and the majority of the population, it offered ‘dololo’ . This comes out very clear in this account by Chitambara et al (2011)
“The influx of new entrants into the financial sector resulted in intense competition for customers between the new indigenous Zimbabwean banks and the old, orthodox banks, mainly foreign owned. However, the community did not benefit much from this competition, as the pricing of banking products did not improve. Average lending rates increased from 12percent in 1990 to 34.7 percent in 1997, while interest on three-month deposits rose from 10.3 percent to 32.5 percent over the same period. In addition, when measured in terms of depth of products and services offered, the new banking institutions did not offer any innovative services, choosing to fight for space in the market for generic banking products, mainly deposit mobilization and lending to well established companies and individuals with high net worth. A lack of risk management skills and weak corporate governance structures limited the capacity of new institutions to develop new structures. As a result the banking sector continued to serve its prime clients, leaving the SMEs and other marginalised sections of the community without access to financial services. (Chitambara et al (2011).
This example of how the poor benefitted fokkol from financial reforms that took place within the framework of ESAP in the name of inclusive growth indicates how the roots of the financial doldrums in which Zimbabwe found itself can be found in the imposition of the neoliberal trajectory on Zimbabwe and the failure of its government to boldly the colonial, neo-colonial, racial and uneven nature of the economic structure head on right from the beginning. Instead of bold action the government resorted to using paying lip service to the land issue each election time. When it became clear that the workers and the poor are tired of slogans and flag independence, the government was forced to go the route of land redistribution, and indigenization, appropriated popular sentiments to project itself as an anti-colonial force in order to prop up its power. This happened at the time trade union movement was divided between a section that uncritically endorsed government agenda and a section that aligns itself with a liberal bourgeosie opposition that tremendously failed to align itself on the side of the masses, refused to support land repossession project. The MDC actually expelled –International Socialist Organization (ISO) member – Gwisai Munyaradzi – who was then MP on the MDC ticket – for pushing for MDC to support land redistribution agenda.

The absence of a strong, united and radical trade union movement and of a strong socialist movement left the radical transformation agenda in the hands of the ruling Zanu PF who mostly used it as a vote-catching mechanism and as a means of patronage and self-enrichment of the political and social elite associated with Zanu PF rather than as a break with capitalism or practical search for a socialist alternative. The questions in this regard are: will the trade union movement and broad working-class organizations in South Africa, choose the path of entrusting the government with the radical economic agenda uncritically, or the path of making its distrust of government to take an dismissive and absenteeist posture or that of a critical support of the government’s RET trajectory, exploiting positive aspects thereof to articulate a socialist alternative, exposing and combatting attempts by the social, political elites to eat in the name of transformation, and developing its own policy proposals and creating its own platforms and strategies to pursue this goal rather than relying solely on government efforts and platforms? What can we learn from Zimbabwe in terms of transforming the white-dominated financial sector in South Africa in a manner that benefits all South Africans rather than create a few elite who operates with the same profiteering logic of the white and\or foreign owned financial cartels? Related to this question is the question of the meaning of national liberation and class struggle in the South African context, specifically the extent to which formulating these as discrete questions that can be addressed in stages creates an ideological and political, philosophical and practical dilemmas, and to what extent locating the RET within this paradigm raise questions.
In this regard there is a need to for the working class to critically on the extent to which there is a need for critical review the notions such as national liberation, Colonialism of Special Types, the National Democratic Revolution and the Native Republic Thesis which have always featured heavily in the dominant traditions within the liberation movement insofar as characterization of the South African struggle is concerned. In his article, National Liberation: What significance, if any, for South Africa today? Leonard Gentle makes the point that though the land that is today still officially known as South Africa was a British colony up to the establishment of the South African state through the Act of the Union of 1910, the parties that negotiated settlement of 1994 were all South Africans unlike in Zimbabwe the Lancaster Agreement was between Britain and the liberation movements.

He therefore concludes that in South Africa ‘national liberation’ could not have meant the achievement of national independence from or secession from a colonial oppressor state in the strict sense of the word. In response to this problematique of how to characterise apartheid state the SACP coined the term Colonialism of a Special Type in the 1950s to describe the oppression of White minority rule as akin to colonialism, albeit with the colonizer not being a foreigner but an occupant. Such characterization amounted to regarding White South as settlers; a term later associated more with the Pan Africanist Congress that split from the ANC in 1955. From the 1960, partially because of the discomfort with the settler-colonial connotations and partly because of the influence of the two stage theory and the Black Republic thesis as propounded by the USRR, the SACP and ANC used the concept of National Democratic Revolution (NDR) to explain the character of the South African struggle. The gist of NDR was that the struggle is national in form but democratic in context. This meant that the struggle should be conducted in two stages, respectively aimed at the goals of the attainment of liberation from colonial racial oppression and the attainment of socialism. Flowing from this logic was the idea that the first stage that should lead to a Black Capitalist Republic shall be led by the Patriotic Front in the form of the African National Congress and the second that should lead to socialism shall be led by the South African Communist Party as the vanguard party. ( Gentle.2012). As late at 2010, the General Secretary of the SACP, comrade Blade Nzimande asserted that the objective of the NDR has always been understood as the defeat of repressive and colonial regimes to build people’s democracies under the leadership of the motive forces, mainly the oppressed and exploited. He also stressed that such revolution may not be able to proceed to socialism immediately in circumstances were the motive forces are not strong or conscious enough to drive socialist revolution or where other objective factors pose a limitation to transition to socialism.
This view is in harmony with the assertion of the ANC National Working Committee in 2009 that the NDR is called as such because its national and democratic tasks are aimed at dealing with the political and socio-economic manifestations of apartheid colonialism and that
While the motive forces strive to change the elements of the capitalist system in the interests of the NDR, they have to manage the capitalist system in line with the main elements of its own logic.
In its Second Transition document of 1912, the ANC further amplified its strategic mechanism of managing the capitalist system in the interest of the NDR by arguing that the NDR requires a black bourgeosie and should even appeal to sections of the white capital that are ‘patriotic”. Given the points raised in this paper about the need to locate a revolutionary transformative agenda outside the logic, structures and regimes and regiments of capitalism, what are the possibilities of the NDR located within the framework of creatively harnessing capitalism in the interest of democratization of the polity and economy transitioning into radical socio-economic transformation, let alone socialism?
What are the implications of pinning the hopes of the attainment of the objectives of the NDR and the possibilities of a second transition on liberal constitutionalism and creative management of capitalism? As Ari Sitas has observed, the dominant discourse within South Africa, particularly within the tripartite alliance is not only that the post-apartheid dispensation is an unfinished National Democratic Revolution or a national democracy in the making, but also that an electoral or insurrectionary alternative is premature. (Sitas. 2012). The second transition concept mooted by the ANC at its 2012 policy conference and subsequent policy positions as minor version of transition from the NDR Social Revolution is thin in details such as how it offers any substantial break with the political economy trajectory based on neoliberal macroeconomic and the residualisation of social policy to safety-net aimed? What implication does the idea that since the ANC can directly access, reach and influence the working-class, urban and rural poor through local councilors and local branches, it does not need the mediation of the civics, has on the strategy of communists and progressive trade unions building socialism now through the politics of encroachment and constructive criticism within the ruling party? (Sitas 2012). Gentle (2012) pose the following questions in relation to the NDR: “What does ‘national in form’ means? “Who is the South African nation? “What did the liberation movement mean “national liberation? Gentle (2012) correctly probes the notion of national liberation by a reminding us that in terms of the notion of ‘nation’ , only White people were considered as the South African nation in the 1910 and that only white people made the decision in 1961 that South Africa should become a republic outside the British Commonwealth. One can add that Black people were not included in the Ja\Nee vote that was intend to gauge whether the SA government of that time had the citizen’s nod to pursue the negotiated settlements. This is precisely because in terms of the apartheid lexicon and its systemic and institutional framework only White people as a collective were perceived to constitute the South African nation, with Black people as a collective perceived and portrayed as a collection of tribes. This the logic that informed the establishment of the Bantustan, urban townships sometimes segmented into Sotho section; Nguni section etc and what was then called Radio Bantu; with tribal segmented radio stations, e.g Radio Sesotho, Radio Zulu, etc. It is in response to this apartheid notion of South Africa as constituting of the White nation and a collection of tribal groups and the balkanization of the country along racial and tribal lines that the idea of a unitary democratic South Africa in which there is no whites or blacks, minorities or majorities but a single South African nation permeated the broader liberation movement. But to what extent can we say we have attained the nation-building part of the liberation project? Are there significant and noticeable steps toward dismantling and reconstructing the apartheid geography and antecedent structural and institutional arrangements beyond surface modification of the old society and renaming apartheid constructed institutions without doing away with their racial and tribal constructions?

Telling cases in this regard is how the housing and social infrastructure development programme of the post-1994 government has failed to challenge and reconstruct apartheid spatial arrangements and the how the ghost of the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act is being resurrected in the form of a Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act where the Chiefs enjoy more powers than they did in the Bantustan regimes of the Nationalist Party, ( Giyosi 2012) often at the expense of the rural poor, especially in places located in the former Transkei and former Ciskei area. Another case in point is how we have simply renamed Radio Sesotho, Radio Zulu, and Radio Xhosa etc to Lesedi f.m, Ukhosi FM, Umhlobo Wenene without transforming them into instruments of integration instead of tribally based institutions they essentially remain. The issues flagged raise the following questions: how far we are as country with the nation-building project? What are there contrarieties within this nation-building project? To what extent has South Africa learnt from other countries in Africa about the pitfalls of national consciousness that Fanon referred to? The questions about the meaning and relevance of national liberation and NDR in the current context are related to overall question about the class structure of South Africa: What does the revolutionary agenda entail? Who are the motive forces? What kind of alliances and solidarities need to be built and what are the challenges and threats contained in such alliances? In this regard, it may be useful for the broader left to grapple with the following questions posed by Gentle (2012):
….when did South Africa shift from being a British colony and become something else….what is that something else….and what was that “something else” before 1994? And more importantly, what is that something else today? What is the character of the bourgeosie? And what is the character of the working-class in South Africa? Is it simply a unified working class for which race does not matter? What about the middle class? Does South Africa today still replicate the old divisions for access to the social surplus generated by the working-class? What strategies and tactics should the underclasses employ to win their goals …and who is on the side of the under-classes and who is against them?
How should the trade union movement and the working-class frame RET?
Perhaps the best way for labour and working-class to answer the pertinent questions raised above is to locate RET within the historical-material roots and systemic and structural base of racial, class and gender oppression in Southern Africa and South Africa in particular. A critical examination of the roots of racial and class oppression in the global South and Southern Africa in particular reveals an intersection between capitalism (classism), colonialism (imperialism) and racism and racial segregation. In order to deal with the crisis of the exhaustion of natural resources and the conflict between capital interests and labor and social demands, Capitalism in the Nothern Hemisphere had to launch beyond geographic borders in search of raw resources and cheap labour.
Capitalist colonial expansionism then had to enlist racism as moral justification expansionism of the plunder of the lands and wealth of other people and the super exploitation of their labor through subjugation to subhuman working and living condition. The fact that colonialism and or imperialism conscripted racism as its moralizing doctrine logically resulted in colonial societies being based on structures of racial segregation. Emergent capitalism in Southern Africa enlisted the pre-existing structures of racial segregation established by racism to fend cheap labor for itself through the proleteriazation of the African people, using the mechanisms of the forced labor, In South Africa, the apartheid policies established by the National Party regime served to institutionalize the structures of racial segregation established by colonialism and expanded by racially-based capitalism. In his article on the South African political economy, Martin Legassick eloquently explains inextricable link between colonialism, capitalism and racism in the context of South Africa.
South Africa was formed through colonial conquest, by first the mercantile Dutch East India Company from the mid-seventeenth century followed by the British from the early nineteenth century. From that time on colonialism resulted in racism, slavery, attempted genocide, the expropriation of the land of indigenous people and the exploitation of their labour as forced labour. Here lie the roots of national oppression. Full-blooded capitalism developed late in South Africa in comparison with Europe and the United States. The real impact of capitalism came only with the discovery of gold and diamonds, in the mineral revolution at the end of the nineteenth century, as the world economy was undergoing the transition to imperialism. Diamond and gold mines required large amounts of cheap labour. They used the pre-existing structures of colonialism and racism and transformed them into structures of segregation to generate this supply as cheap black migrant labour, supervised by racially privileged white workers. The ideology and structures of segregation prepared the way for the ideology and structures of apartheid. Segregation and apartheid, therefore, served the interests of capitalism rather than merely the ideology of Afrikaner nationalism. (Legassick. Undated)
This account of the roots of national and class oppression indicates that the program of transformation in South Africa must effectively be that of de-colonialization, socialisation and the de-racialization and democratization of both the polity and the economy. While this implies that redistribution, redress\ restitution, reconstruction should be at the centre of social policy and economic policy, it also means that South Africa must honestly address the difficult question posed by the Fallism movement: how possible is it to achieve redistribution, redress\ restitution, reconstruction without brutally confronting the legacies, continuities and symbols of the structures of colonialism, white supremacism and patriarchy? The argument that the de-coloniality and intersectionality discourse presents before us is that de-racialising capital within the precincts of colonial and neo-colonial structures is as cosmetic as de-colonization without a break with capitalism, patriarchy and related forms of social division, social exclusion and social disenfranchisement ultimately amount to the ruling, corporate and social elites seating at the capitalist table eating on behalf of everybody, while the underclasses as a whole, Black people in particular, women and other marginalised sectors of society remain on the periphery, condemned to feasting on crumbs. It points to the fact that the task of the trade union movement and the working-class has to be pushing the RET discourse beyond pursuing shared growth to dislocating the edifices of colonialism, capitalism, racism ad patriarchy. Patrick Bond (cited in Legassick. Undated) pointed to the need for the transformation agenda to highlight this historic task of the working-class and their organization in his response Blade Nzimande’s passionate call for South Africa to go back to the RDP, to wealth redistribution, greater social spending, and heavy investment in infrastructure, together with policies that created long-term jobs and sustainable livelihoods for the majority. In a passionate plea made in to the Black Management Forum, , Nzimande correctly asserted that growth alone, even if it reached 6%, wouldn’t necessarily translate into jobs. Where there was such a “huge wealth gap”, even growth of 10% a year wouldn’t help people without structural change.
Bond responded that Nzimande is right, but he needs to spell out clearly that this involves a struggle to nationalize the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ control and management and that the strategy for inward-industrialisation to provide for the basic needs outlined in the RDP should lea inexorably to a strategy for workers’ power, workers’ control of the economy, and workers’ democracy. The argument raised by Patrick Bond point to the fact that for the working-class Radical Economic Transformation, or revolutionary social, political and economic transformation will be superficial if it does not amount to development of a strategy a strategy for workers’ power, workers’ control of the economy. In this regard, it may be useful to quote at length, Simon Clarke, whose book, Keynesianism, monetarism, and the crisis of the state, influenced Bond’s views expressed above:
“The necessity of socialism has never been more urgent. The objective conditions for a democratic socialist society have never been more fully developed. The concentration and centralization of capital has socialized production to an unprecedented degree. The computer, through which monetarism has been able to perfect the subordination of society to the alienated rule of money, provides the instrument that makes it possible to bring the complex apparatus of social production under democratic control. “There is no reason why socialism should not put itself back on the historical agenda, if only it can learn the lessons of its defeats. The fundamental lessons are three. First, the basis of socialism can only be the socialization of production. Only by bringing social production under social control can the contradictory tendencies of capitalist accumulation, that lead to the pauperization of growing masses of the world population, to the intensification of class struggle, to wars and to recurrent crises, be overcome. Second, socialism has to be internationalist. This is not dictated simply by the internationalization of capital, for the crisis is unleashing nationalist political and ideological forces that counter such internationalization. It is more fundamentally a political imperative. Nationalism is the supreme expression of the alienated form of the capitalist state, fetishing the ‘illusory community’ of the nation against the emerging unity of the ‘real community’ embodied in the collective organization of the working class. Third, socialism has to be democratic. This does not mean that socialism should confine itself within the limits of the formal democracy of the capitalist state. The experience of state socialism and social democracy alike shows that the attempt to build socialism from above, on the basis of the illusory community of the capitalist state and the formalism of its democratic processes, soon leads the state to confront the real community of the democratic organizations of the working class as a barrier to socialism. The socialization of production cannot be divorced from the question of the political forms of such socialization” (Clarke 1988)
The conclusions that can be drawn from the question raised in this paper with regard to (1) the conceptual and practical framework of RET, (2) the an analysis of the roots of national and class oppression in South Africa and (3) the historic the task of the working-class is that genuine radical economic transformation has to result in an overarching change in patterns of ownership of the land, the major means of production and the commanding heights of the economy. It has to entail a move from private ownership to public ownership and state control of the land, the major means of production and the commanding heights of the economy and the socialisation of essential services such as water, energy, health, education, and transport. It also has to entail doing away with a dis-embedded economy that is centred on the activities of private corporations and the state only without taking consideration of and capacitating other economic actors such as the family, homebased economic and business activities, economic and business activities that take place at the community level, in organizations, within the informal economy and in broader society. It has to take the form of re-embedding the economy in society and reinforcing the intersection between political democracy and economic democracy. It should be intertwined with the creation of democratic worker control of production and workplace democracy and community control of public institutions like schools, hospitals and clinics. True radical transformation of the economy has to facilitate cooperative, collaborative and communal processes and structures of production, distribution and consumption.
Radical economic transformation should go beyond economic reforms aimed at creating a Black capitalist industrialist class. It should go beyond simply de-racialising the upper layer of the capitalist structure but leaving the bottom structures the same, characterised by Black working-class suffering and White privilege. The way forward for labor and working-class organization with in relation to the RET discourse can be summarized with one slogan: Resist, Mobilize, Transform! Resist both the ploys of capital to arrest the moves towards economic transformation and the machinations of the Black capitalist and comprador bourgeoisie to turn RET into elitist project in which the rich and connected eat the nation’s wealth in the name of and on behalf of the masses. Mobilize to build the strength, power and capacity of the forces of socialist forces to fight and win battles at the shopfloor, at the boardrooms, on the street, in the parliament, etc. Unleash the force and power of the forces in all these platforms to push for systemic, structural and institutional transformation.

1. Mphutlane wa Bofelo teaches Political and Social Development at Workers’ College in Durban, KwaZulu –South Africa \Azania. The views expressed in the paper are not necessarily subscribed to by the Workers’ College.

2. DITSELA is the Development Institute for Training, Support and Education for Labour. It was established in 1996 by the main trade union federations in South Africa, to help build a strong trade union movement.

3. Karl Paul Polanyi (October 25, 1886 – April 23, 1964)[1] was an Austro-Hungarian economic historian, economic anthropologist, economic sociologist, political economist, historical sociologist and social philosopher. He is known for his opposition to traditional economic thought and for his book, The Great Transformation, which argued that the emergence of market-based societies in modern Europe was not inevitable but historically contingent. Polanyi is remembered today as the originator of substantivism, a cultural approach to economics, which emphasized the way economies are embedded in society and culture. This view ran counter to mainstream economics but is popular in anthropology, economic history, economic sociology and political science.

4. Rosa Luxemburg ( 5 March 1871– 15 January 1919) was a German-Polish-Jewish Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist, anti-war activist, and revolutionary socialist who became a naturalized German citizen. She was, successively, a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL), the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). She articulated a pointed criticism of both the Leninist and the more moderate social democratic schools of socialism, Luxemburg.

5. Walden Flores Bello (born November 11, 1945) is a Filipino academic who served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. He is a professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman, as well as executive director of Focus on the Global South. Socialist Worker described Bello as “one of the most articulate and prolific voices on the international left” and that “he has devoted most of his life to fighting imperialism and corporate globalization”. Bello was also a supporter of Hugo Chávez and was impressed by his opposition to the United States, stating after Chávez’s death that he was “a class act, one impossible to follow. Wherever you are right now, give ’em hell”

6. “Economic Transformation: Employment Creation, Economic Growth and Structural Change: Strengthening the programme of Radical Economic transformation.” ANC National Policy Conference Discussion Documents. http://www.anc.org.za/sites/default/files/National%20Policy%20Conference%202017%20Economic%20Transformation_1.pdf

7. The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) agreed on the principles of power-sharing, protection of minority rights and guarantee of property rights as the corner-stones of the Government of National Unity. The National Party had entered the negotiation process saying these are the non-negotiable conditions upon which any future constitution of South Africa should be based. The property clause remains in the current constitution of South Africa.

8. Herbert Jauch has been with the labour movement in Southern Africa for over 20 years. He served as executive member of the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) as well as on various committees of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW). Since 1995 Herbert worked as labour researcher, carrying out research projects for the Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council (SATUCC) as well as Namibian and South African trade unions. Herbert was instrumental in developing a labour diploma course for Namibian trade unions and served as director of the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LARRI) in Katutura, Windhoek from 1998 until 2007. He was LaRRI’s senior researcher until January 2010 and now works as freelance labour researcher and educator with various organisations in Southern Africa.

9. The Lancaster House Agreement, signed on 21 December 1979, allowed for the creation and recognition of the Republic of Zimbabwe, replacing the unrecognized state of Rhodesia created by Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. The terms of the Agreement provided for Zimbabwe Rhodesia to temporarily revert to its former status as the Colony of Southern Rhodesia, thereby ending the rebellion caused by Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In addition to the terms, Robert Mugabe and his supporters were pressured into agreeing to wait ten years before instituting land reform. Both the British and American governments offered to compensate white citizens for any land sold so as to aid reconciliation (the “Willing buyer, Willing seller” principle), and a fund was established to operate from 1980 to 1990.

10. South African slang for ‘nothing’

11. Afrikaans word essentially meaning having nothing, being nothing, nothing left, literally “fuck all”

12. The International Socialist Organization (ISO) is a revolutionary socialist organization in that identifies with Trotskyism, Leninism, and the Marxist political tradition of “socialism from below.

13. Leonard Gentle is the former director of the International Labour and Research Information Group (ILRIG), an NGO that produces educational materials for activists in social movements and trade unions. He has been an anti-apartheid activist for many years and has worked as an organizer for the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (SACCAWU), the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) and as an educator for the International Federation of Workers’ Educational Associations (IFWEA).

14. Ari Sitas is a South African sociologist, writer, dramatist and civic activist. His publications include Voices that reason, Black Mamba Rising: South African Worker Poets in Struggle, William Zungu: A Xmas Story, Slave Trades, and Towards a Postcolonial Sociology?

15. Ari Sitas is a South African sociologist, writer, dramatist and civic activist. His publications include Voices that reason, Black Mamba Rising: South African Worker Poets in Struggle, William Zungu: A Xmas Story, Slave Trades, and Towards a Postcolonial Sociology?

16. Patrick Bond (born 1961, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is professor of political economy at the University of the Witwatersrand Wits School of Governance. He was formerly associated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he directed the Centre for Civil Society from 2004-2016. His research interests include political economy, environment, social policy, and geopolitics

17. Simon Clarke (born 26 March 1946) is a British sociologist specialising in social theory, political economy, labour relations, and the history of sociology. He has a particular interest in employment relations in China, Vietnam, and the former-Soviet nations. He is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Warwick.


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