The continent’s most advanced economy — has been downgraded to junk status by credit rating agencies following the sacking of former Finance Minister Mr Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mr Mcebisi Jonas in March. The firing of a Cabinet minister apparently triggered a flurry of activity in Western capitals with the value of the rand falling while demonstrations were organised across the country to protest the decision.
President Jacob Zuma was accused of kow towing to the whims and caprices of the Gupta family while his new appointee to the critical Treasury portfolio, Mr Malusi Gigaba, was dismissed as a lackey who would do the bidding of the President and his acolytes.
What is, however, missing from the narrative is that white capital is feeling increasingly threatened by the radical economic transformation policies being ushered in by the Zuma administration and the Gupta State capture allegations are just but a sideshow in a bigger high stakes race for the resources of South Africa.
President Zuma is pioneering a new thrust to economically empower the majority black people who for years have suffered under the yoke of apartheid and been disillusioned by the slow pace of transformation following the advent of majority rule in 1994. South Africa is a classic case of racial inequality with the top 10 percent of the mainly white national population earning incomes which are more than 100 times more than the bottom 10 percent. Records all show that about 75 percent of all wealth in South Africa is owned by a mere 10 percent of the population (read white people).
Whites constitute about nine percent of the population, blacks (76 percent) and coloureds about nine percent, according to the 2011 census. What is ironic in all this is that the anti-Zuma brigade is made up of mainly blacks — members of the ANC and its alliance partners, mine workers and other poor people who live in shacks mainly because the powerful white-owned media in that country has set the agenda.
President Zuma is being vilified and demonised not because he is in the clutches of the Gupta brothers but due to his audacity to threaten white capitalist interests. For this he will surely pay the price as evidenced by the hullaballoo created by his building of a rural homestead in Nkandla and the State capture allegations. These diversionary tactics are being used by the powerful 10 percent white population which controls all economic activity in South Africa to ensure that the radical economic transformation initiative does not come to fruition.
Zimbabwe’s economic empowerment drive — anchored on the land reform programme and the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy — have provided a plank upon which the Sadc region can tap into. Granted, it has not been plain sailing and there were glitches here and there in implementing the two groundbreaking programmes but the results are there for all to see. The land reform programme has spawned a new breed of farmers with cash crops such as tobacco and maize being produced by new farmers who are exporting to the region and beyond.
Entire communities have been transformed by the Community Share Ownership trusts whereby locals are benefiting from the natural resources in their communities. Generally, the lot of the majority back people in Zimbabwe are far better off than they were under colonial rule simply because they have taken ownership of their God-given natural resources.
Going forward, Zimbabwe’s economy will rebound anchored on the successful agricultural season and earnings from mineral resources but the major difference with South Africa is that it is in the hands of the indigenous population.
Zimbabwe has endured years of sanctions, vilification and demonisation because of its people-centred policies and President Zuma and the people of South Africa should prepare for the same treatment should they be bold enough to forge ahead with radical economic transformation.
The onslaught against Zimbabwe continues to this day as evidenced by the characterisation of the country as a fragile state by United States-based think tank Fund for Peace in collaboration with Foreign Policy Magazine.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Durban on Thursday, President Mugabe dismissed the assertions, stressing that those that labelled Zimbabwe a fragile state were misguided and ill-informed about the state of development in the country. He said Zimbabwe was one of the most developed countries in Africa and did not exhibit traits of a fragile state.
“Zimbabwe is one of the most highly developed countries in Africa and after South Africa I want to know which country has that level of development that we have in Zimbabwe.
“We have 14 universities, our literacy is over 90 percent and it’s the highest in Africa. Yes, we have our problems. Yes, certainly, but we have resources more than an average country in the world,” Cde Mugabe said.
We totally agree with the President.