Save South Africa Campaign: A Smokescreen To Salvage Capitalism’s Crisis

Vol 23 No 2

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There has been a wave of protest marches and actions by an assemblage of motley organised formations, including parliamentary opposition parties, calling for the resignation of president Zuma. Blatant corruption practices and his role in state capture by the infamous Gupta family, has led to their battle cry: Zuma Must Fall! We are told that the endemic state graft by “a rapacious predatory elite” is undermining the gains of our struggle and eroding our constitutional democracy.

The “Save South Africa Campaign”, a newly configured formation, comprises ANC stalwarts and an array of NGOs and business leaders, is calling on all South Africans to pledge their commitment to “protecting and advancing all rights and duties in the constitution”. Notable neoliberal capitalist representatives like Anglo Gold Ashanti chairperson Sipho Pityana, founder and convenor of Save SA are some of its leaders. Other steering committee members like Trevor Manuel, who is a former United Democratic Front leader, three times finance minister and global advisor to the International Rothschild Group, has thrown his weight behind this initiative. In the recent national shutdown action led by Save S.A.  a journalist reported that the liberal bourgeois organisation Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) went so far as to inform a trade union federation that they would not take punitive action against workers who choose to take part in the protest (Mail and Guardian, 6 April 2017).

What lies behind this call by the petty bourgeois and liberal bourgeois for the working class to defend this bourgeois constitution? The same constitution, canonized as the holy grail of democracy, protects private property – the bedrock of the capitalist system. South Africa’s constitution is nothing but a tool in the armoury of the capitalist class to embed the rule of their petty bourgeois representatives in parliament and an attempt to save the moribund system of capitalism. Workers are simultaneously called upon to save the ANC and the system of capitalism. The political crisis facing the ANC, displaying deep internal fractures, is intimately linked to the crisis of capitalism in South Africa. As the political representatives of the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeois led ANC’s role in containing mass discontent and managing the political affairs of the system of capitalism is becoming increasingly fragile. This is evidenced by its poor performance in the recent local government elections and incessant, often violent, internal squabbles. Combined with this we witness a rise in the number of militant working class struggles at the point of production and at a community level. University of Johannesburg researchers have shown that “between 1997 and 2013 there were on average 900 community protest a year and recently as high as 2000 per year” against the effects of neoliberal capitalism (The Conversation, 18 May 2017). This is a cause for concern for the capitalist class and imperialism.

 South Africans are led to believe if we only remove president Zuma and the rot of corruption at all levels of the state, then the problem of poverty, inequality and class exploitation would be eradicated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deceptively, the petty bourgeois servants of the liberal bourgeois are attempting to delink the baleful corruption of president Zuma and his cronies from the corrupt capitalist system. A 2016 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed a “world-leading 69 percent corporate corruption rate for South Africa, compared to a global average for economic crime of 36 percent” (Socialist Register 2017, 168).  A few cases are worth mentioning: the De Beers diamond mis-invoicing for seven years amounting to $2.8 billion, tax avoidance by platinum companies like Lonmin and international finance capital, Net1 listed on the Johannesburg and New York Stock Exchange, sinking social grant beneficiaries wantonly into debt, thereby “profiting from poverty”. Monopoly capitalism, through the Minerals Energy Complex (MEC), has captured the state throughout the vicious history of capitalism in South Africa. The MEC, together with the petty bourgeois leadership of the ANC orchestrated the 1994 negotiated settlement, paving the way for the betrayal of the working class and landless peasantry. Capitalism is inherently a corrupt political and economic system that is responsible for the super exploitation of workers, inequality, landlessness, poverty and environmental destruction. It should be abundantly clear that the interests of the labouring classes and outfits like “Save South Africa” are irreconcilably different. Superseding the barbarous system of capitalism is the only way out to end corruption that is pervasive in South Africa.