[Marxism] Activists blast ANC leaders as 'Bantustan puppets'
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Thu Aug 30 10:56:05 MDT 2007
----- Original Message -----
From: "glparramatta" <glparramatta at greenleft.org.au>
> Brutus, who worked in the same chain gang with Mandela on Robben Island,
> roused the students by referring to a recent article in which he described
> South Africa as a "typically Bantustan state".
Louis forwarded a fraction of that article... here's the rest:
August 30, 2007
A View from Bantustan
Global Financial Apartheid
By DENNIS BRUTUS and PATRICK BOND
In three months, the G20 group of major financial powers will join us in
South Africa, hosted near Cape Town by the gregarious finance minister
Trevor Manuel. As usual the ministers will wine and dine, and protesters
will suck teargas.
But elite self-congratulation will be muted, for the economic officials were
reminded during the recent financial meltdowns that when Wall Street has a
cold, others get pneumonia.
Or consider a metaphor that better spreads the blame: what president Thabo
Mbeki terms Global Apartheid, like Apartheid itself during the bad old days,
apparently needs a few Bantustans to kick around.
We are witnessing a boot to the bum of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange,
which lost nearly US$100 billion--17% of its value--between July 23rd and
Yet SA Treasury director-general Lesetja Kganyago is in an emollient, even
denialist mood: 'We should not be too worried about further volatility' (he
wrote last week). 'We must continue to strengthen our shock absorbers',
which include 'a floating exchange rate'.
Did the relaxation of exchange controls represent a shock absorber or
volatility-amplifier? Since dropping the 'financial rand' dual exchange rate
system in 1995, the SA Treasury has suffered four intensive speculative
attacks on the currency (the most of any substantial country) and last year
managed the world's worst-performing major currency. The country's
vulnerability also stems from Treasury's decisions to happily repay $25
billion worth of apartheid-era debt (which should have been labeled 'Odious'
under international law), and then permit the largest SA firms' financial
headquarters to escape to London starting in 1999.
Because of periodic currency crashes and Mbeki's refusal to reimpose
currency controls, the last dozen years witnessed record-high real interest
rates. As a result, domestic private fixed investment has been extremely
weak and inflows of 'hot money'--portfolio investments--destabilised the
economy. So real estate and the stock market have boomed while manufacturing
withered, leaving us with a trade and payments deficit exceeding 7% of GDP
this year, in the high danger zone.
Last month, even the IMF's annual Article IV Consultation report admonished
Manuel's team for the enormous current account deficit, far higher than even
the USA's (and than Thailand when it melted down a decade ago). According to
the IMF, South Africa 'could be adversely affected by weaker appetite for
emerging market assets, a global slowdown, or a sharp deterioration in the
terms of trade.'
But both the IMF officials and Pretoria's two respondents--Peter Gakunu and
Goolam Aboobaker--argue that 'sound macro-economic fundamentals,
particularly the low external debt together with a well managed and stable
financial sector and a flexible exchange rate regime would assist in
mitigating this risk.'
As a result of this myopic approach--so similar to the IMF's soft-peddling
of East Asia's problems just prior to its 1997-98 crashes--South African
financial analysts have taken to blaming the victim: the USA's vast network
of 'Ninja' borrowers (No Income, No Job or Assets).
Yet as consumer advocate Ralph Nader argues, 'The corporate capitalists'
knees are shaking a bit. Their manipulation of the sub-prime housing market
has led to a spreading credit crunch and liquidity crisis.'
South African financiers have experimented just a little with crazy schemes,
but even without a derivatives culture in mortgage bonds, enough liquidity
was pumped into local real estate to drive average prices up 200% between
1997-2004, compared to just 60% in the US.
This leaves South Africa at risk of becoming a new Bantustan within Global
Financial Apartheid. Consider Apartheid's three minimum requirements for the
homelands, in which roughly half of black South Africans were segregated:
-- politicians allied to Pretoria repeatedly gave it legitimacy when under
pressure (today, witness how South African officials laud the 'international
community' and 'multilateralism': synonyms in the same tradition of
-- these agents expressed a willingness to put down local demonstrations
using repressive means (and witness regular police brutality against
widespread contemporary municipal protests); and
-- the old Bantustans also had the responsibility to supply cheap migrant
workers to the outside world as labour reserves (witness SA's post-1994
doubling of unemployment along with its new commitment to
The Bantustan capitals were equipped with 'toy telephones' which the old
rulers could always play with, but which had no connection to power.
Pretoria's racist regime simply imposed its will, occasionally allowing the
local tyrant to serve as 'point man' for whatever relatively harmless local
crisis bubbled up (as George W. Bush termed Mbeki when it comes to
Given these power relations, the challenge faced by the infamous Bantustan
dictators--Buthelezi, Matanzima, Mangope, Cebe and the rest--was to disguise
the faulty line to their constituents and pretend they had the ear of the
powerful. They needed continual reaffirmation that there was dignity and
upward mobility associated with their sleazy jobs.
Today the sleazy work entails proclaiming never-ending reforms to Global
Financial Apartheid. When US war criminal Paul Wolfowitz was appointed by
Washington as World Bank president in April 2005, Manuel--then chair of the
Bank's Development Committee--welcomed him as a 'wonderful individual
Flash forward two years, past one fatal nepotism scandal and another rigged
appointment process controlled entirely by George W. Bush, and again Manuel
welcomes Wolfowitz's successor, Robert Zoellick (a fellow member of the
Project for a New American Century, that notorious pro-war thinktank): 'We
consider Zoellick to be very competent and hope he will be able to operate
in the same manner as he demonstrated in the World Trade Organisation
negotiations when he served as the US trade representative.'
Manuel's five-year fuss about 'voice' and 'democracy deficits' and 'global
governance'--and mild-mannered toy-telephone conversations--have generated
exactly naught. There was not even the decency of a European Union call to
consult Mbeki or Manuel last month when another neoconservative, Rodrigo de
Rato, stepped down as International Monetary Fund managing director and was
replaced, minus any Third World consultation, by French ex-finance minister
After Strauss-Kahn's visit to Pretoria, Mbeki meekly remarked, 'He is a very
competent person and we think he would add enormously to the work of the
IMF--including improving the system of governance of the IMF, making it more
representative of the developing world.'
Reflecting the same subservience at a Maputo meeting last week with de Rato,
Manuel and seven other African finance ministers announced: 'The African
Governors stressed the need to protect and even increase the voting share of
low-income countries as a group.'
The obvious mismanagement of global financial markets means this is the
perfect moment for a latter-day Bantu Holomisa--former Transkei Bantustan
military official who turned anti-apartheid and hosted the African National
Congress during the late 1980s--to rise up, tell it like it is, and foment
Indeed there is such a figure, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who on his
last trip to South Africa--for the Joburg World Summit on Sustainable
Development in 2002--made this very point: 'We have to have a radical change
in the formats of these summits... We just read a speech There is no proper
dialogue, it seems to be a dialogue of the deaf. Some people go from summit
to summit. Our people go from abyss to abyss.'
Around 30,000 people marched that week from the abyss of Alexandra to the
elite abyss of Sandton, decrying Mbeki's role in water privatisation,
climate change and rising poverty.
The same happened a year earlier, at the World Conference Against Racism
here in Durban, where Mbeki removed from the summit agenda two central
issues--Zionism and reparations for slavery, colonialism and apartheid--and
received a 10,000-strong protest in response.
These are the kinds of precedents which make the G20 summit of finance
ministers scheduled for mid-November such an interesting moment. South
Africa's independent left, which most vigorously contests the corporate
globalization agenda, is licking various wounds, including several that are
self-inflicted. And there will be far too much dust in the air concerning
the ANC's post-Mbeki leadership succession race--which culminates in
December--to justify the attention of trade unions and Communist Party
attention to one more elite talkshop.
Like Buthelezi decrying 1980s apartheid (while killing its genuine Zulu
opponents), Manuel has already given the game away. Last year, upon his
return from the G20 summit in Melbourne where 10,000 protesters demanded an
end to Global Apartheid, Manuel told reporters, 'There is still a case to be
made for the IMF and World Bank to exist ... but they have to become more
relevant than they are'.
(If he desires an argument to the contrary, Manuel should read the new
collection of seminal critiques from across the world edited by our
colleague David Moore, The World Bank, published by UKZN Press.)
The G20 attendees will be: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China,
France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi
Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States,
and the European Union. Of these, the only even mildly progressive
governments are Argentina's and Italy's, and the world's most serious
reformers--the Norwegians--won't be there.
What is required, as ever, is for progressive civil society to do the
serious anti-Apartheid organising, both within the Bantustans with their
unemployment, inequality, disease, squalor, obsequious leaders and
intensifying social protest, and far beyond.
Dennis Brutus is honorary professor and Patrick Bond director of the UKZN
Centre for Civil Society.
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