Zuma relies on poor and uneducated

Moeletsi Mbeki

Moeletsi Mbeki says the ANC will stay in power, mainly thanks to the 64% of its voters who didn’t finish high school.

President Jacob Zuma is a master strategist who will use the poor to ensure the ruling ANC will be re-elected, according to political economist and author Moeletsi Mbeki.

Political economist Moeletsi Mbeki. Photo: Gallo Images

Political economist Moeletsi Mbeki. Photo: Gallo Images

Speaking at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on Wednesday night, the younger brother of former president Thabo Mbeki said the large number of poor in the country still worked in the ruling party’s favour.

“Jacob Zuma knows these numbers. If I were Jacob Zuma, these numbers wouldn’t bother me. Why change anything when these poor, uneducated people carry on voting for you no matter what you do?” he said. “The ANC’s economic policies are centred around re-election, not investment”.

Mbeki, who was citing figures from his new book, A Manifesto for Social Change – How to save South Africa, said that 64% of those who had voted for the ANC in the 2014 national election were unemployed and had not finished high school.

Mbeki said a survey by market research group Ipsos conducted after the national election revealed that only 25% of ANC voters were employed full time, 11% worked part time and 64% were unemployed.

The same survey revealed that only 41% of ANC voters had a matric certificate while 46% had “some high school education”. Four percent of ANC voters had no education and only 9% had tertiary education.

He warned, though, that the high levels of unemployment within the country and the ruling party were “political risk factors” because the ANC was increasingly in conflict with the black poor, who formed the majority of its voting base.

The most dramatic example of this was the conflict at a Marikana platinum mine in August 2012, where 34 striking mine workers were shot dead by police and almost 80 wounded on a single day.

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Increases in service-delivery protests – which often turned violent – and recent protests over candidate councillor lists also highlighted the conflict between party and electorate, he said.

Mbeki said investment was the first casualty of continued political instability, with new investors not being drawn to the country.

“Those who have assets here are simply maintaining them,” he said.

“The state does not promote investment, but consumption,” he said. South Africa’s civil servants were some of the highest paid in the world and had outstripped salaries earned in the private sector.

“Jacob Zuma himself earns more than [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel and [British Prime Minister] David Cameron. If you look at the GDP of these countries compared to South Africa’s, this is ludicrous,” he said.

“South Africa is in trouble; there is something very, very wrong with the way the political elite are managing the country,” he said.

He said the ANC’s voting block should be given skills and capital in order to produce instead of consuming. The strengthening of existing small-scale enterprises and the opening of markets as well as the establishment of new industries were needed to reindustrialise the country.

“Although it is not a popular notion in South Africa among the political elite, we need to look more to Western ways of doing business, to innovate. South Africa needs to become a leader in science and technological development,” he said.

Moeletsi Mbeki says SA’s ‘hidden civil war’ can be seen in the conflict within the ruling ANC.

The only way South Africa would avoid the “hidden civil war” it was experiencing was by deepening Western values and reconfiguring the political elite to drive investment instead of consumption.

Speaking at the Hilton Hotel in Durban on Wednesday night, author and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki told an audience of about 100 people that in KwaZulu-Natal that this “hidden civil war” could be seen in the conflict within the ruling ANC.

“Sometimes we have to have a hard look at what is going on in South Africa and we have to have solutions. There is nothing wrong with telling a good story, but we must address challenges,” he said.

South Africa was ruled by the political and economic elite, who were in conflict, he said.

The economic elite had the capital, the political elite had the decision-making power and controlled the state; and both were suspicious of each other.

Mbeki said that the country’s massive inequality could be understood by looking at figures produced by the statistician-general, which showed that those who controlled the state and production (the elites) only numbered 105 000.

“The elites are those who earn R60 000 per month or more. There are only 105 000 of them in South Africa. This upper class is racially integrated,” he said.

“Even though politicians always talk about white monopoly capital, black politicians are also part of monopoly capital. We should start talking about white and black monopoly capital, as it is these elite who make the political and economic decisions.”

He said that South Africa was preoccupied with race, and that if he didn’t break down the figures by race “nobody will believe you”.

The middle class are those who earn between R11 565 and R60 000 per month and make up 9.79% of the nation’s population. Blacks make up the majority of the South African middle class in the public and private sector, with whites coming in second.

Mbeki said that blue-collar workers (lower middle class) were those who earned up to R11 500, and they made up 38% of the country’s population.

But it was the “underclass, the unemployed”, making up 49.7% of South Africa’s social structure, that bore the brunt of inequality and were supressing the country’s earners.

“Families from all social classes are subsidising the unemployed and underclass. This supresses the standard of living of people who are working, no matter what their income,” he said.

Government also had to subsidise this group through massive social welfare programmes. Those who paid taxes also had to subsidise the large population who were not working.

“Put all of this together and society is in deep crisis, which is why we have our high murder rates. The struggle for resources is so ferocious that it starts at the family level and works up to the social level,” he said.

Of the 14 740 service-delivery protests South Africa had in 2014, 20% were violent. (Citizen.co.za editor’s note: Mbeki appears to have been relying on misreported protest figures that were 5000% higher than they should have been for this information. Fact-checking NGO Africa Check discredited the figure of “14 470 service-delivery protests” last week. For the full facts, clickhere).

“Thirty-two people per 100 000 are killed in South Africa. The global murder rate is five per 100 000. We have the highest number of violent deaths in a country that is not at war. Syria is at war. Their war will end and their murder rate will drop. South Africa’s murder rate will continue,” he said.

“South Africa’s murder rate is six times the global average. We are a country in very, very deep trouble,” he said.

He said that South Africa had the highest unemployment rate in the world, despite the government’s “changing” figures. South Africa’s youth unemployment rate was 57%, while other countries in sub-Saharan Africa had youth unemployment rates of 11%.

He said that while South Africa was an old economy, it was not a modern economy.

“Our economy was set up by the British and still operates in the same way, where we utilise migrant labour from previous homelands. The South African economy and society are in urgent need of modern innovation.”

He said it was erroneous to say that the country’s economy wasn’t growing because of organised labour, when only a third of blue-collar workers belonged to unions.

“Unions in South Africa are not strong. The average wage for blue-collar workers who are unionised is in the vicinity of R3 000 per month.”

Mbeki said that the decrease in investment was because of the conflict within the economic and political elite for control of profit and surplus in economy.

The political elite survived by taking profits from enterprises through taxation. He said Eskom was a good example of this.

“Eskom makes huge profits but throws the country into darkness. It doesn’t promote economic development, it is a tax centre.”

All of this tax money goes to the public sector, which in South Africa is one of the highest-paid sectors in the world, with civil servants earning more money than their colleagues in the private sector. This is then used by the political elite to enrich itself and its support systems, Mbeki said.

“When there is conflict within the political and private elite, the first casualty is investment,” he said.

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