The ruling African National Congress of South Africa finally removed Jacob Zuma as president. Zuma will be remembered as one of Africa’s most inept heads of state. He will also be remembered for his shameful collusion with the imperial powers in the destruction of Libya and the brutal killing of one of Africa’s greatest leaders, Muammar Qaddafi.
Like Thabo Mbeki before him, Zuma’s pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies has created a new class ‒ a parasitic bureaucratic bourgeoisie, which works hand in hand with transnational and Afrikaner capital to enrich themselves, their families and friends, all the while calling it ‘Black empowerment’. Truth be told, South Africa has moved from apartheid to neo-apartheid. As the great revolutionary Pan-Africanist, Kwame Ture pointed out, “Black visibility and Black faces in high places does not necessarily translate into Black Power”.
Enter Cyril Ramophosa, the new president and one of the wealthiest men in Africa. Guyanese need to know that Ramophosa was a director of the Lonmin Mining Company and a senior member of the governing ANC, when in 2012, the South African security forces were given the order to shoot workers striking against Lonmin. In total, 34 workers were gunned down by police. Referred to as the Marikana Massacre, this shocking act of state terrorism was eerily reminiscent of actions taken by the White apartheid regime of days gone by. A former leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, Ramaphosa, in an email between Lonmin management and government officials the day before the massacre, stated, “The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal acts and must be characterised as such … there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation”.
Ramaphosa was directly responsible for the company’s failure to abide by its commitment to build 5,500 houses for employees, instead completing only three dwellings. It was this and low wages that the striking workers were protesting.
After more than two decades of ANC rule, the majority of South Africans are still without basic necessities, such as decent housing, electricity and healthcare, while the wealth of the country is plundered by foreign capital. The truth is that the ANC has betrayed its own Freedom Charter, and is quite content to manage a neo-colonial arrangement, facilitating EU and US control of African resources, not unlike the PNCR, which betrayed the Sophia Declaration, and is also facilitating the plunder of Guyana’s resources in the name of Black empowerment.
Like Organization for the Victory of the People here in Guyana, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) under the leadership of former ANC youth leader, Julius Malema, are leading the charge when it comes to resisting neoliberalism and completing the national liberation struggle initiated by the African National Congress, Pan Africanist Congress, South African People’s Organization and others. The EFF is now the third-largest party in both houses of Parliament, having received 1,169,259 votes in the 2014 elections. They dress as miners and maids in parliament to reflect the people they represent. With more than half a million members and growing, they have relentlessly opposed Zuma’s corrupt leadership and the ANC’s neo-liberal agenda. Their battle cry is “economic justice in our lifetime”. EFF have just issued a statement vowing to oppose Ramophosa, stating that he is every bit as corrupt as Zuma.
In South Africa, as in Guyana, Black faces in high places has not translated into liberation for Black people, who remain impoverished, exploited and marginalized, despite the vast wealth of their countries. In both countries, the struggle for true independence, economic justice, human advancement and dignity in a genuinely multi-cultural society continues.
Gerald A Perreira
Organization for the Victory of the