There is an old African saying: “Be careful when a naked man offers you a shirt”. This is what I make of Johann Rupert’s sudden attack of conscience regarding Gupta PR firm Bell Pottinger. Black people, steer clear.

It is not our battle. We are black. We are on our own. Let me explain.

According to historian and political biographer, Anthony Butler, in 1976, after the Soweto uprisings, English monopoly capital found itself in a panic. It feared the looming threat of a black uprising, and it came up with a plan.

It wrote to the prime minister: “The mature family-oriented black already places the stability of his household uppermost. (He) is more interested in his pay-packet than in politics. Our prime point of departure should be that this ‘middle class’ is not weakened by frustration and indignity. Only by having the most respectable section of the urban black on our side can the whites of South Africa be assured of containing the irresponsible economic and political ambitions of those blacks who are influenced.”

Harry Oppenheimer and Clive Menell roped Afrikaner Anton Rupert into the project to avoid “Rome falling to the barbarians”. They hatched a plan to collect a group of black, “bright people” - as Menell’s son, Brian, put it - to grind them into this paternalistic orgy of a self-interested and black middle-class.

Today, some decades later, the offspring, Johann Rupert, rallies us into the battle between him and Bell Pottinger. The Freedom Front Plus and DA have joined in, charging treason and hate crimes. All this for three words.

This is white paternalism at its best. Bell Pottinger has never been ethical. It says black people are stupid. We are going to kill white people because we did not know that they own the economy. We just heard it from some foreigners and “Indians” from Saxonwold.

This is absurd. We are routinely called k******, monkeys and clever blacks. Our people are shot, mistaken for animals, placed in coffins and so on. Suddenly we have become these savages over the lexicon “white monopoly capital”.

Wasn’t it fine when the EFF or SACP were using it? Why is it becoming a problem because a desperate ANC is using it?

We are back in 1976. Representatives of white monopoly capital are panicking. They have gone out to look for the “best and brightest” in the ANC to tell us that white monopoly capital is a myth.

Today Johann Rupert, who used Bell Pottinger for 19 years, decides to stop using them because of the three words.

I have no quarrel with him, but I’m disappointed and hurt by the best intellectuals in our movement. As a young black man, I feel betrayed. I’m becoming tired. I’m losing hope.

When the best in society become the worst, when those of us who look up to them see them eating and thinking for themselves, we too start thinking we must steal. We do it to survive; . so that when everything collapses, we have enough money to evacuate our families, build stronger walls or pay for a private army.

This is what young people, who have lost faith in the liberation movement, are thinking. We see our leaders defending the indefensible. We see them defending the last frontiers of white domination. We see them drenched to the bone in the sins of incumbency. Yesterday they were revolutionaries but today they’re sell-outs. Why is Bell Pottinger our problem? Because it’s a deliberate distraction. We don’t have to endorse Guptarisation but we also bloody well shouldn’t join white people’s projects to undermine our intelligence and agency. We must leave white people to obsess over their own whiteness.

Our struggle is neither to please white people nor force reconciliation down their throats. Our struggle is black excellence; to eliminate that slimy arrogance and confidence of a mediocre white man.

Our struggle is to eradicate inequality and have economic freedom in our lifetime - if not in ours, then in our children’s to be sure. Frantz Fanon said: “The European elite undertook to manufacture a native elite. They picked out promising adolescents, they branded, as with red-hot iron, with the principles of high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth these walking lies had nothing left to say to their brothers, they only echoed.”

We hear them, they echo. “There is no such thing as white monopoly capital. It is white domination, in context.”

We hear them, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They agreed to have a battle but they forgot their quarrel.

* Hoveka is the author of the forthcoming title: They Think and Speak for Themselves. He is a speech-writing specialist in the public service. He writes in his personal capacity.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent