Patrick Bond

New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made headlines when the ANC leader backed legal changes that could allow land reform to redistribute land from traditionally powerful white owners to the Black majority.

But this populist posture aside, the new administration is seeking to deepen pro-corporate neoliberalism and austerity.

A brand new World Bank report, The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018, offers evidence of how much poorer Africa is becoming thanks to rampant minerals, oil and gas extraction.

Yet World Bank policies and practices remain oriented to enforcing foreign loan repayments and transnational corporate (TNC) profiteering — thus maintaining the looting.

In Harare, Bulawayo and smaller Zimbabwean cities, hundreds of thousands of citizens joyfully took to the streets on Saturday, November 18, approving a Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) military semi-coup that resolves a long-simmering faction fight within the ruling party and ends the extraordinary career of Robert Mugabe at the age of 93.

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by South Africa’s elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of the country’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business finance minister for seven years until being sacked in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 co-authored the country’s post-apartheid structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find.

Bill Gates was set to deliver the July 17 annual Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, justifying his philosophy of market-oriented, technology-centric philanthropy.

Last year, French economist Thomas Piketty’s speech on inequality attracted healthy debate — with even business notables endorsing his concerns — given South Africa’s intense social conflict.

To illustrate, South Africa’s Gini Coefficient measuring inequality is the world’s highest (at 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, in terms of income inequality from employment). Since 2000, social protests have numbered on average 11 per day.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on May 11 to 13 reinforced extractive industry and high-tech myths.

The gathering unveiled the elite’s exuberant imagination and its lack of exposure to the continent’s harsh economic realities. As an antidote, grassroots protesters all over Africa are questioning the logic of export-led “growth” and renewed fiscal austerity. Instead they demand policies that meet their basic needs.

A wedge is being quickly driven through Pretoria's political elite. Among the victims of this power struggle are vast numbers of poor people.

The poor are starting to bear the brunt of the diverse shakeouts in the ongoing confrontation now underway between the country's two most powerful 21st century politicians: President Jacob Zuma and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

That battle began in 2005, when Mbeki sacked then-deputy president Zuma following a corruption conviction against a long-time Zuma associate.

Wits students protest in Johannesburg against a proposed tuition fee hike tuition fees on October 15.

A historic victory over neoliberalism in South Africa was won on October 23, after the most intense three-week burst of mobilisation in the country since liberation from apartheid in 1994.

The great African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral offered the famous injunction 50 years ago: “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories.” This advice hits at the temptation of back-slapping vanity.

The leading spokespeople for the 41-million strong clicktivist team from the Avaaz NGO need to remember Cabral. They over-reached ridiculously in praising the Group of 7 meeting of seven rich nations held in Bavaria on June 7 and 8.

Avaaz wrote: “Many told us it was a pipe dream, but the G7 Summit of leading world powers just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels forever!!!

'Mandela led fight against apartheid, but not against extreme inequality.' Patrick Bond spoke to Real News Network on December 5. Read the full transcript.


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