White monopoly capital allegation finds little favour at ANC conference

NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe briefs the media at the ANC's national policy conference. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

NEC member Joel Netshitenzhe briefs the media at the ANC's national policy conference. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The ANC national policy conference has proposed that the term “white monopoly capital” not be used in its vocabulary, saying while monopoly capital in itself is a problem it is incorrect to characterise it as white.

National Executive Committee (NEC) member Joel Netshitenzhe told journalists at a briefing on Tuesday that nine out of 11 commissions at the conference believed the use of the term White Monopoly Capital was not in line with the ANC’s policy perspectives.

“Nine out of 11 commissions said the phenomenon of monopoly capital is a global one and it manifests itself differently in various parts of the globe and in that context it would therefore not be correct to characterise ours simply as white monopoly capital,” Netshitenzhe said.

“That relationship that we were describing would apply whether that capital is Japanese, it’s Indian, it’s white or whatever other category you can think about”.

He said the ANC did recognise that South Africa’s colonial past did create a white dominance in the economy, which, however, did not justify labelling monopoly capital as a problem of whiteness.

“We need to elaborate that in that context, in the South African situation we cannot run away from the reality of white dominance in the economy in the context of assets, of income as well as other privileges that would have been inherited from the past.” 

At this stage the view expressed by the 9 commissions is still a proposal, which will be taken back to branches for further discussion before a resolution is adopted at the December elective conference.

Heading to the 6-day policy conference, ANC members had already been engaged in debates over white monopoly capital, with leaders offering contradicting views on whether the use of the term was justified.

Presidential hopefuls Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa took opposing views with Dlamini-Zuma brandishing the term while Ramaphosa suggested it had been hijacked by the Guptas for their own agenda.

The use of the term has also indicated factional divides with pro-Ramaphosa provinces such as Gauteng, North West and Western Cape saying monopoly capital has no race. Provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West, who favour Dlamini-Zuma, have also used the term white monopoly capital.

Netshitenzhe said the party did not discuss in detail the role of international public relations firm Bell Pottinger – which has been accused of creating the term to deflect from state capture allegations against the Guptas.

He said the brief discussions that were had on the matter indicated that the term white monopoly capital may not have been entirely a Bell Pottinger invention.

“The approach that bases itself on very recent developments about Bell Pottinger and the Guptas might not be entirely accurate. It may well be that they are using the concept for their own nefarious purposes,” Netshitenzhe said.

“Some of the comrades were saying that the 1962 programme of the South African Communist Party (SACP) actually uses the notion of white monopoly capital”.

Bell Pottinger now faces investigation by a UK-based PR association over concerns that it incited racial tensions in South Africa. 

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