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The South African government has just adopted two help lines. To save the bourgeoisie, up to US$ 16.2 bn. For the workers, 6 installments of US$ 18[1].

By Yves Mwana Mayas and Cesar Neto

 

In the rainbow revolution, the bourgeois are bail out and the poor

South Africa, together with Nigeria, are the largest economies in sub-Saharan Africa. In Latin America we can compare with the economies of Argentina and Colombia. South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018 was $ 368.3 billion. While Colombia and Argentina had a GDP of 331.0 and 519.9 billion dollars respectively. Per capita GDP was US $ 6,374.03, 6,667.79 and 11,683.95 for South Africa, Colombia and Argentina respectively.

Therefore, South Africa and Nigeria should not have the images of hunger that we see in Africa. Even so, poverty is huge. South Africa has always been the most industrialized country in sub-Saharan Africa and this has caused strong migratory currents from impoverished sectors in Africa. With the process of deindustrialization and reduction of mining in the last decades, South Africa saw the unemployment rate, before the coronavirus crisis, reach an astronomical number of 35%.

At the same time, the concentration of wealth is scandalous. Only 10% of the population owns approximately 86% of the country’s wealth, that is, 10% own 85.6% and the remaining 90% own 14.4%. Among that 10%, the richest 3,500 people (0.01% of the adult population), have more wealth than the poorest 32 million people[2].

 

Fight back poverty or wealth?

In the last two decades we have seen several leftist populist governments in Africa and especially in Latin America. Everyone talked about fighting poverty and never talked about fighting wealth. Thus, the remains of the bourgeois banquet were being distributed to the poor and the banquet itself continued to be controlled by the bourgeoisie.

These governments baptized their governments by different names Beautiful Revolution, Democratic and Popular Government, Rainbow Revolution, so Chávez, Lula or Mandela never spoke of an anti-capitalist revolution.

In this current cycle of global economic recession combined with a coronavirus crisis, the situation of the working class in these countries is dramatic. The hunger in Venezuela has been going on for more than 3 years, in the big Brazilian cities death knocks on the door of workers’ houses and in South Africa[3] we see kilometer lines to get food.

In the face of economic recession, the ANC government makes generous concessions to the bourgeoisie

Faced with the global economic recession, entrepreneurs are mobilized in two ways. On the one hand, they want money from the State to save their companies and on the other they demand the end of the lockdown so that their workers and semi-slaves can produce the wealth they need.

The Ramaphosa government has just released up to R300bn or $ 16.2bn to “help businesses”. This “burgeois grant” can claim companies that earned up to R300 million or $ 16.2 million[4]. In this sense, companies known for their economic strength received this aid. We can quote, “big companies in a range of sectors have filed for business rescue, including horse racing operator Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, private sector aviation company Comair and retailer Edcon while more than four out of 10 formal businesses fear they will not be able to survive the crisis, according to a recent Stats SA survey”.[5]

According to the investment website Market Screener, Edcon has been grappling with debt for several years after troubles in its credit business in 2014 coincided with an economic slowdown. Bain Capital, which took control of Edcon in a leveraged buyout in 2007, gave up equity control in 2016 to creditors”.[6] The case of the Edcon group is one of so many cases of companies that were already in economic difficulties and uses coronavirus and lockdown to obtain advantages, recover and increase wealth. Edcon owns two Edgars and Jet clothing store chains, employs 14,000 direct employees and 25,000 outsourced workers.

The loans will be made by private banks and the guarantor will be the South African state. What if economic groups are unable to pay private banks? No problem, there is already a commitment by the South African government to buy these unpayable debts. Thus, companies will be able to default and the banks will have the guarantee that they have not lost anything, on the contrary, by intermediating the loans they will gain their share.

 

Workers and poor people: how much will they receive?

Poverty in South Africa is endemic to the point that over 17 millions of south people hope to survive on social grants[7] .which, moreover, represents absolutely nothing except to give the ruling bourgeoisie a semblance of good conscience of having“ assist” ‘the most vulnerable.

In2016, the National development plan (NDP) set a goal of eradicating absolute poverty from 39% of people living below the poverty line to zero by 2030.

Tito Mboweni, the minister of finances announced in February 2019 that in the 2019/2020, social grants have been increased as follow[8]:

–              State old age (over 75): increase from R1715 to R1800

–              War veterans: from R1715 to R1800

–              Disabiity: from R1695 to R1780

–              Foster care: from R960 to R1000

–              Care dependency: from R1695 to 1780

–              Child support: from R405 to R425

It is perhaps in this way and at this speed that the ANC is sure to reach its 2030 target

Covid-19 only worsened a situation that was already untenable. And the government, to come to the aid of all these people, will therefore be very attentive as it has done with the companies. Only, while the envelope for “saving companies in” distress “was R300 trillion, the one for assisting the many families directly affected economically by containment measures is only R50 trillion. This “assistance” plans to add R500 on the grants categories and gives R350 ($ 18) to the unemployed.

While the government has vouched for the loan that the companies will receive from private banks and therefore willing to take out of the misery of the mass to cover the non-reimbursement by the companies, it has taken no financial measures to guarantee the rent payments for many families cut off from income following covid-19, except to ask them to find an arrangement with their lessors to consider the unpaid amount as a debt they will pay after covid-19. As a result, after covid-19, many families will end up with 2, 3, 4 months of unpaid rent which they will try to liquidate without assistance. The covid-19 page will be turned for the people, while the government will be carefully monitoring its agreement with the banker bourgeoisie for the benefit of the corporate bourgeoisie. This is the so called “government of the people”!

 

Inhumane treatment of refugees

South Africa has been a destination for many African countries citizens for two decades seeking refuge or asylum. Whether they are called political or economic refugees, all these African expatriates arrived convinced of the dream that the release of Mandela sold them; the one for whom all Africans fought. This country, whose freedom was regained following the efforts of so many anonymous foreigners, was quickly converted into a nightmare where blacks reproduce on other African blacks the discrimination and xenophobia they suffered in the past and defeated thanks to the support and solidarity of these other Africans today, in their turn, in search of solidarity. The repetitive waves of xenophobic attacks of past years have forced most African foreigners to go and live in neighborhoods beyond their purses. To the point that, when they are sincere, most recognize that they only work to pay their rent which takes almost 95% of their wages. At this time of lockdown, the relief measure taken by the government is to allow workers to get paid for their UIF[9], cut monthly by the employer. Curiously, all African foreigners working with their asylum permits are denied this legal right recognized to any employee. They are required to present themselves with a passport having a work permit before having access to this sesame. The scandal is that the asylum permit is issued by the government and it is clearly written on it that the owner “can study and work”. And it is with this permit that they were hired and monthly, as with any worker, one punctures the UIF; when paying, a completely different document is required. Meanwhile, the rent remains unpaid, and families are running out of food! What injustice!

Capitalism kills. Death to capitalism!

Today more than yesterday, beyond the pandemic, famine and unemployment, it is capitalism that must be combated and suppressed. This system which creates injustice, confiscates by artifices which have become “normalized” and concentrates most of the wealth in the hands of a few speculators who, when they please, create the financial crisis, the scarcity of products on the market, inflation and even speculate and make a profit on the health and death of millions of innocent people.

How can we refinance the bourgeoisie which is enriched by the overexploitation of workers and their underpayment with billions and let the mass share crumbs and count on charity? !!

The working masses expect and demand a fair wage; the people want a fair redistribution of the national income rather than the infusions of assistance programmed to keep them trapped in the system.

By signing the death of obsolete capitalism, it is also a question of sweeping away these regimes which serve as their windbreak so that the people, organized, assume their destiny!

Down with capitalist imperialism!

 

 

[1] 350 rand or 20 dollars a family can buy only two packages of rice with 5 kilos each.

[2] https://www.newframe.com/sas-richest-3-500-own-more-than-the-bottom-32-million/

[3] https://twitter.com/ABC/status/1262065356396470272?s=09

[4] How much is $ 16.2 million? It means more or less 1,200 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 1.6 MPI (basic) zero kilometers.

[5] https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/economy/2020-05-12-government-launches-r100bn-covid-19-loan-guarantee-scheme/

[6] https://www.marketscreener.com/PACKAGES-LIMITED-6492802/news/South-African-retailer-Edcon-to-file-for-bankruptcy-protection-30493705/

[7] https://www.vukuzenzele.gov.za/over-17-million-receive-social-grants

[8] https://www.sanews.gov.za/south-africa/increased-allocations-grants-education-and-health

[9] The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) provides short-term help to workers when they become unemployed or are unable to work because of maternity, adoption leave or illness. It also provides help for the dependents of a deceased employee.