According to reports, powerful British PR firm Bell Pottinger, in a paid-for campaign for Gupta-owned Oakbay Capital, sought to protect the relationship between President Jabob Zuma and the Gupta family through a narrative aimed at people on the ground who remain excluded economically, and which stirred racial tension to the extent of advocating violence, was just the ticket.
It seems this is where the “white monopoly capital” slogan bandied about with such glee by Zuma supporters as being the root of South Africa’s failure to progress as hoped beyond the halcyon days of 1994, grew legs.
It’s commendable that the South African media has latched on to this travesty and that the company has fired some of those involved. Also, that a complaint has been lodged by the opposition Democratic Alliance and the company’s ethics is being investigated by a UK regulatory body.
At least one journalist has admitted that he was “played for a fool” in wittingly advocating the white monopoly capital agenda aimed, it appears, at protecting the interests of the Guptas, and with them, the president. He is not alone.
Many blacks remain excluded from the formal economy and the topics of land restitution and access to finance are certainly pertinent, but Thompson says the “white monopoly capital” conspiracy became a “most beautiful, racially-loaded distraction” created to divert attention from state looting.
We know now that it has turned into a rallying cry for groups like Black First Land First whose intimidation tactics are well-documented.
Zuma may claim that the ANC is more united since last week’s policy conference, but the ANC’s Joel Netshitenzhe said at a media briefing after the conference that nine of 11 commissions who debated the issue agreed that capital should not be racially defined, nor was it “the enemy” to progress we so desperately need.
The ANC has agreed to amend the phrase but only time will tell the extent of the damage that has been caused deliberately by powerful people who claimed to have our interests at heart - but clearly didn’t.