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Weissman writes: "Along with its justly praised one-person, one-vote political democracy, South Africa now suffers a greater gap between rich and poor, white and black, than under apartheid."

President of the African National Congress (ANC) Nelson Mandela raising a clenched fist to supporters upon his arrival for an election rally ahead of the 1994 general elections in Mmabatho. (photo: Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images)
President of the African National Congress (ANC) Nelson Mandela raising a clenched fist to supporters upon his arrival for an election rally ahead of the 1994 general elections in Mmabatho. (photo: Walter Dhladhla/AFP/Getty Images)

How Big Money, Washington and the IMF Trumped Mandela

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

11 December 13


he nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the ANC, and the change or modifications of our views in this regard is inconceivable," wrote Nelson Mandela in January 1990, two weeks before he was released from his long captivity on Robben Island. He was assuring his comrades in the African National Congress that he remained loyal to the socialist economic program enshrined in their mid-1950s Freedom Charter. The ANC would, he promised, give back to the people of South Africa the riches that wealthy whites had stolen from them under British colonial rule and the years of Afrikaner-led apartheid.

Four years later, he would become president of all South Africa, democratically elected in the country's first election in which the overwhelmingly non-white majority was allowed to vote. But by that time, Mandela and his closest aides had secretly agreed to precisely the change of views that he had called "inconceivable."

The ANC gave up nationalization and a radical redistribution of wealth. They promised to repay $25 billion in debt that the apartheid government had amassed. They removed exchange controls, allowing the largest corporations and richest whites to send their money abroad. And instead of top-down state socialism, as once practiced by the now defunct Soviet Union, or preferably a Scandinavian mixed economy, they went whole hog for the privately controlled, "free market," trickle-down economics preached by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, the Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, American president Bill Clinton, and "the Washington consensus."

The result of this neo-liberal economic agenda has been both tragic and predictable. Along with its justly praised one-person, one-vote political democracy, South Africa now suffers a greater gap between rich and poor, white and black, than under apartheid. "Mandela deserves great credit for ending racial apartheid," says the Belfast-born, American-educated political economist Patrick Bond, a veteran of the first ANC government. "But his legacy includes the continuation of mass poverty."

The full history of Mandela's turnabout has yet to be written. But part of the story is told by the country's best known and most well-connected economist Sampie Terreblanche, in his widely quoted "Lost in Transformation: South Africa's Search for a New Future since 1986," published in 2012. As he tells it, there was basically a quiet capitalist coup, and its chief organizer was South Africa's leading industrialist and one of the world's richest men, Sir Harry Oppenheimer, the retired chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation and De Beers Consolidated Mines.

Known as a big business opponent of apartheid but not a supporter of the ANC, Oppenheimer began in 1991 to host a series of secret meetings of the country's mining and energy leaders, along with the bosses of U.S. and British companies active in South Africa. Also present were young American-trained ANC economists, who were reporting back to Mandela. The meetings began at Oppenheimer's Johannesburg estate, Little Brenthurst, and then shifted to the African Development Bank on the road to Pretoria, where it was easier to maintain the secrecy. Oppenheimer also lunched regularly with Mandela, who went out of his way to consult the mining magnate on issues of economic importance.

According to the now octogenarian Terreblanche in an interview this past August, Uncle Sam played a major role in tandem with Oppenheimer and his Brenthurst Group. The Americans – first under George H.W. Bush and increasingly under Bill Clinton – threatened the ANC "in a rather diplomatic way" and told them "if you are not going to accept our proposals, we can destabilize South Africa." Terreblanche also speculates that the Americans passed money "under the table."

All this came to a head in 1994, when the International Monetary Fund agreed to loan South Africa $850 million for the transition, but only if the ANC would sign off on the economic deal they had worked out with Oppenheimer, his Brenthurst Group of fellow moguls, and the Clinton Administration in Washington. For South Africa’s best-known white revolutionary Ronnie Kasrils, a leader of the South African Communist Party and co-founder with Mandela of the ANC’s armed wing, “Spear of the Nation,” this was “our Faustian moment.” With all its strings, the loan precluded a radical economic agenda, as did all the other concessions that the ANC made “to keep negotiations on track and take delivery of the promised land for our people.”

In the new introduction to his memoirs "Armed and Dangerous," Kasrils blames himself as well as Mandela for having "chickened out," his exact words. "Doubt had come to reign supreme: we believed, wrongly, there was no other option, that we had to be cautious, since by 1991 our once powerful ally, the Soviet Union, bankrupted by the arms race, had collapsed. Inexcusably, we had lost faith in the ability of our own revolutionary masses."

Would hanging tough have brought on the bloodbath that Mandela feared? "To break apartheid through negotiation, rather than a bloody civil war, seemed then an option too good to be ignored," Kasrils recalls. But "to lose our nerve was not necessary or inevitable." The country's vast mineral reserves and the declining morale of the old order would have allowed far greater gains at the negotiating table. "If we had held our nerve, we could have pressed forward without making the concessions we did."

Without extensive historical research, no one can know with any certainty. But the lack of democracy within the legalized ANC, the secrecy of all the negotiations, and the movement's willingness to go along with Mandela, who had been locked away for 27 years and never really understood the alternatives to joining a privately controlled global economy, gave Oppenheimer and his allies an enormous bargaining advantage.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+24 # dkonstruction 2013-12-11 12:03
Here's another thoughtful piece on Mandela during his years in power. We need more such thoughtful critiques that don't just make him (and the ANC gov't) out to be either saint or devil. Reality is usually far more nuanced.
+13 # giraffee2012 2013-12-11 15:28
If we cannot find a 3rd candidate (Hillary and the GOP-TP-one) to run, I believe we can expect WORLD WIDE take over by the big $$ in a landslide. The USA is #1 in corruption from the inside out FROM Reagan, including Bill Clinton, and to the current administration. Corruption got a big boost under "W" and the RATS' citizen's united in 2010.

Hillary, it seems clear, would be an extension of same in stereo. Never ever vote a TP/GOP in but .... are we really doomed?
+2 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-11 16:18
Whoever would compare/throw into the same basket Chicago School and Austrian School, Margret Thatcher and Milton Friedman, bill Klingon and Friedrich Hayek really does not understand Austrian economics or its proponents which never are advocates of 'trickle-down' theories. Free education can be obtained at the Mises Institute and through Lew Rockwell dot com.
+1 # MidwesTom 2013-12-11 16:58
Under the ANC blacks must own 50% of any corporation. The children of the professional whites are almost all leaving the country. There are many examples of the new black managers making multiples of what the former white bosses made. The blacks in both SA and Nigeria want to 'make it' immediately, unwilling to slug their way through small pay increases.

A classic example occurred 2 years ago when the country started for the first time suffering power outages. The government had forced the3 awarding of the coal hauling contract to a firm controlled by black political donors. They failed to maintain the trucks, failed to schedule the trucks properly, with the result being power outages caused by bad management. South Africa could have a great future, if it's government was honest and not corrupt, because the country has great mineral wealth. However, like much of Africa, the color of ones skin is more important than ones abilities, in determining management positions both private and governmental. Not a good way to advance.
0 # dkonstruction 2013-12-12 09:07
Quoting MidwesTom:
Under the ANC blacks must own 50% of any corporation.

Please cite source.

South Africa's policy of black economic empowerment (BEE) states that:

"Companies must comply with regulations if they want to qualify for incentive schemes or obtain contracts from government...

Each sector has its own BEE scorecard that indicates how well a business has adapted to BEE requirements. The plan outlines voting rights, economic interests, and accrual of bonus points, human resources, and investment policies regarding empowered entities.

Enterprises are classified according to the total of blacks in top or ownership positions:

•Black enterprises have more than 50% black ownership.

•Black empowered businesses have 25% or more black ownership or one quarter of the managers are black people.

•Black influenced businesses have 5.1% black ownership.

•Black engendered enterprises have more than 25% black women managers.

•Black community endeavours have at least one black shareholder that represents the larger group".

Very different than your claim. Whites can start and run "white only" or "mostly white" businesses but they are then not eligible for gov't contracts or "incentives" (i.e., tax breaks or other gov't subsidies).
-1 # dkonstruction 2013-12-12 09:29
Quoting MidwesTom:
The children of the professional whites are almost all leaving the country.

Please cite source for this claim.

"A recent survey by FutureFact, a polling organisation, found that the desire to emigrate is pretty even across races: last year, 42% of Coloured (mixed-race) South Africans, 38% of blacks and 30% of those of Indian descent were thinking of leaving, compared with 41% of whites. This is a big leap from 2000, when the numbers were 12%, 18%, 26% and 22% respectively. But it is the whites, by and large, who have the money, skills, contacts and sometimes passports they need to start a life outside."

According to this piece in the Guardian:

"The South African Institute of Race Relations, a think-tank, guesses that 800,000 or more whites have emigrated since 1995." Guesses? Where does this number come from? And the claim is that this is 800,000 our of the country's 4 million whites and yet SA gov't statistics show the white population as being nearly 4.5 million in mid-2008. (see page 3).

so please cite credible source for this claim.
+1 # dkonstruction 2013-12-12 09:33
Quoting MidwesTom:
There are many examples of the new black managers making multiples of what the former white bosses made.

Oh my God! You mean there are now black people (managers) in SA earning more than their former white bosses. Oh My God!!!! Well, that's certainly proof of how reactionary that gov't is right. I mean no "rational" person would ever expect (or want?) that in a country that is more than 90% non-white that there would be black people who earn more than whites right? Next you're going to tell me that other (non-black) people of color in SA also earn more than some, no, say it ain't so....the horror, the horror.
+7 # Alternative 2013-12-11 19:23
It is sad that the pendulum swings in such extremes. I believe that eventually things will settle down. Maybe the real war worth fighting and and the real change will come when we stop listening to the wealthiest and the most powerful and trust in our own abilities to figure it out using sharing and cooperation as our tools of choice. Take on the blackmailers if you know what I mean. It's worth the gamble. They are always bluffing. They are hanging on by their fingernails. They know the greedy bastard era is coming to an end.
+7 # PABLO DIABLO 2013-12-11 20:01
Boycott the corporations that are killing us. Vote the leeches out of office. Take back our country and THANKS to Mandela (they had him by the balls) for a peaceful transition. Now, they can solve their problems. Boycott the corporations that are killing us.
0 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-12 08:37
Yes. One might start here:
0 # JohnBoanerges 2013-12-12 08:40
I posted this page to MY 490 (or so) FB friends.
+4 # dick 2013-12-11 22:23
RSN is one of the very few places where you find crucial truths about Mandela. ALL readers, especially those who enjoy being published by RSN in the Comments section, should pay their dues, NOT FREELOAD, send $$ now, then every single month.
0 # speedboy 2013-12-12 19:57
"Without labor there would be no capital" (Lincoln), and without the "little" people there would be no workers. Well-planned boycotts and nationwide worker shut downs are the most effective means of achieving more equitable income and wealth. The Birmingham bus boycott finally ended legal segregation---s omething the Civil War never accomplished, (and, defeating all white southern football teams may have helped).

The life-blood of greed is money, and when that pocketbook is threatened, then changes will occur---not because of empathy, but because of avarice.
0 # infoadampca 2016-09-16 11:58
PCA (SOUTH AFRICA), LTD is a registered and authorized loan company, they offer loans to all blacklisted citizen, same day approval and instant pay out.
Are you blacklisted? Debt Review? Low credit Score? they can assist you.
they specialize in the following loans up to R1 million Rand
*Consolidation Loan * Business Loan * Personal Loan * No payday Loan available
Minimum of 10,000Rand offered over 12 months And Maximum of 25 years over 5 Million
they assist All South Africa citizen.
Car finance as well
Farm Loans
Home Loans up to R2M
Personal Loans of Up to R450 000
plus Debt Consolidation Loans of Up to R1,000,000
Business Loans of Up to R10M
Payday Loan up to R80 000
they have easy way to get you extra money to spend or to settle your debts
Interested persons should reply to this articles published by emailing them at:||||
Advice: Just make sure your Documents are legit and verifable else you will be decline.
They telecheck with ITC authority.
Gratitude to Mr Adams Romano Elmarco a South Africa born Citizen

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