Johann Rupert

Many of today’s business tycoons profited under apartheid through the provision of black cheap labour and unjust land dispossession, writes Gugu Ndima.

I think South Africans should thank the Guptas because the controversy around them has not only exposed a degree of ignorance about our understanding of the state, it has brought out of the laager some of the Afrikaner nationalists who benefited from apartheid.

This can only mean we are heading in the right direction in starting a dialogue about who runs the state, issues around racism, and institutionalised inequalities.

Perhaps the dialogue about supposed “state capture” by the Gupta family will interrogate whether the ANC-led government truly “captured” the state from the apartheid regime.

Institutions that aided wealth accumulation for apartheid cartels are very much alive and protected.

Johann Rupert and FW de Klerk, two Afrikaners, decided this week to join the fray over the alleged “state capture” by the Guptas.

Interestingly, they targeted the ANC, which had chosen not to make them stand trial or forego their wealth, accumulated through exploitation of the black majority.

This may be an impromptu case of political opportunism in the guise of patriotism. It equates to downright arrogance to fire shots at the ANC, warning that they don’t want any disturbance of their institutionalised mechanism of wealth accumulation.

De Klerk appears to believe that obtaining a Nobel Peace Prize absolves him from horrific crimes committed during his tenure as president of the apartheid state. He was the commander-in-chief when many atrocities took place, including the Boipatong massacre in 1992 and the murder of SACP general secretary Chris Hani in 1993. We can’t be held to ransom by people who think they have moral standing, when they presided over an immoral system that grossly violated human rights and facilitated brutal disenfranchisement.

The audacity of the two Afrikaner figures is evidence of a potential tug-of-war for resources, between the old white guard and new capitalists who equally see a chance to accumulate wealth using the methods of the old guard through government.

The utterances of these prominent Afrikaans men affirm that the only thing under threat is their own hold on the state that continues to benefit them. The Broederbond is still in control of mines, banks, farming and so on. It controls the economic sovereignty of the state.

White business is just as guilty of capture as any other capitalist. The unfortunate reality is that the old and new players in business do not have the interests of the majority of our people at heart, nor do they facilitate the entry of black players into the mainstream economy. No capitalist is better than another. They all serve selfish interests and use patronage as a tool for state control.

People like Rupert have benefited immensely from the constitution, which protects their private wealth irrespective of how it has been gained. Many moguls today profited under apartheid through the provision of black cheap labour and unjust land dispossession.

The African majority remains on the periphery of the economy.

The post-liberation politics that characterises many African states is fast shaping our socio-political landscape. We should guard against our government being parasitic, guard against our state being used as an instrument for accumulation by the ruling class.

The state ideally should be a developmental tool for the emancipation of the majority.

We have corrupt cartels in every industry, from those who determine the price of basic needs such as health to loyal thugs who practise illegal trading, launder money and facilitate illicit flows of money out of our economy.

These corporations never make headlines and their stories die faster than they can be investigated because the bigger cartels manage narratives in the media. Let’s unpack who runs the mines and banks, who manipulates the markets and who has the power to make decisions about the stability of the economy.

De Klerk and Rupert will not speak about their racial kind, who milk this economy, because they are an instrumental part of that network that has control beyond the appointment of ministers; those who shake the market when the Treasury (their taxes) is tampered with. The names of white men colluding in industries and their links to the government are not revealed. People like Rupert and De Klerk are no different from the Guptas, fighting for the same resources and accumulation, to the detriment of the majority.

De Klerk must be grateful he can live in peace when parents who suffered under his regime wonder where their children are buried; when black men and women bear physical and emotional scars from his regime. These socio-economic inequalities are a direct manifestation of policies over which he presided.

It’s unfortunate that the wealth of people like Rupert and the Guptas easily buys them access to the wealth of this country through unscrupulous politicians.

Patriotic South Africans should guard against those who enjoy patronage from business scoundrels who have no interest in the developmental agenda.

* Ndima is an ANC Youth League member.

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

The Sunday Independent