Cyril's pro-capital ethos a threat to Freedom Charter

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is cautioning South Africans to look more closely at the new ANC president, and see if their optimism is not misplaced.

They should first note that those who have welcomed his triumph most enthusiastically are leaders of big business and their friends in the media and universities.

They see Cyril Ramaphosa as "one of them", an incredibly successful and multibillionaire member of the monopoly capitalist ruling class, who will promote their interests.

After he resigned as general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers in 1991, he built a big investment holding company, Shanduka, with interests in sectors ranging from mining to fast foods.

He served on the boards of as many as 100 companies, including MTN, SA Breweries, First Rand Limited, Alexander Forbes, Medscheme and of course Lonmin, where he was implicated in the police action which led to the murder of 34 mineworkers.

As well as Marikana his role in several other companies which he led also reveals a dark side to this "saviour of the country".

After he left MTN to become South Africa's deputy president in 2014, he criticised companies which make profits "disappear" by shifting them "to low-tax operations where there is little or no genuine activity".

With such a record as a business leader, how can we be confident that as president he will stop the outflow of capital into tax havens?

Nearly R60-billion left SA illicitly in the 2015-2016 financial year, money that could have been invested in job-creating projects or used to provide free education and the National Health Insurance system.

When he became deputy president in 2014 he resigned from all his business positions and resumed a political career, which had earlier included being one of the key negotiators in the pre-1994 settlement which traded democratic reform and human rights for the continuation of the same white, monopoly capitalist class and the business elite who had captured the state under apartheid.

He continued enthusiastically to back ANC government's neo-liberal economic policies which were designed to promote the interests of the very companies he had just left.

His main "solution" to the crisis of mass unemployment, deepening poverty and widening inequality was the National Development Plan, which embodied all the capitalist policies of the earlier Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy (Gear) which was designed to bring South Africa in line with the world.

 

Ramaphosa's priorities are clear - to make SA more attractive to investors, through market-friendly policies. His main "solution" is for a "social compact" between government, business and labour, which has already led to those three sectors, under his leadership, agreeing to a minimum wage of R20 an hour.

 

There will be no fundamental change under a leader who is tied inextricably to a failed capitalist system. He will never accept that the very system which has made him so rich is the root cause of SA's slide into poverty, inequality and corruption

Saftu demands a government run in the interests of the people as a whole, as envisaged in the Freedom Charter.

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