Democracy: The myth of South Africa’s capitalism.
The broad sense of disappointment in post-apartheid South Africa is not just a matter of sentiment. It’s an undeniable fact that millions are unemployed and millions languish in poverty.
The most recent 2018 World Bank Report shows that over 55% of the population live below the poverty line.
Those closest to the upper poverty line live on just R992 (USD$80) per person and over 76% live with the constant threat of poverty.
South Africa emerged from the British Empire as a dual economy structured along racial lines. Since the end of apartheid, these lines have become more blurred, but economic inequality have increased.
In the twentieth century, South Africa aspired to build a national economy based on an evolving relationship between the state, industry and finance.
The racial premises of this national project are not officially abandoned, due to the benefits the white minority inherited through colonialism and apartheid, the mining sector is weaker and the government faces a world economic crisis that is stagnant and still highly unequal.
South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 0.1 of a percentage point to 29.1% in Q3 of 2019.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics South Africa, this is the highest unemployment rate since Stats SA started measuring unemployment using the QLFS in 2008.
Between Q2: 2019 and Q3: 2019. Up to 70% of homes suffer food insecurity with many of these households skipping meals. The stark contrast between the rich and poor makes South Africa the most unequal country in the world.
This inequality is deeply raced and gendered. Black African women are consistently at the bottom of the all indicators from poverty, income, education, safety, and food insecurity. 26% of black African people are unemployed, continued gender disparities are mirrored in the figures: 43.8% of women are unemployed while 35% of men are unemployed.
The chance of finding a job is very low in South Africa and the cost of looking for a job is very high.
Black African women remain the most vulnerable due to the lack of employment. In terms of the breakdown by the population and sex, African black women are mostly affected with unemployment rate sitting at 31.1% while white women are the least affected by 6.6%.
The high unemployment rate is a symptom of South Africa’s economic malaise.
Inequality is endemic in our world, despite the rise of democracy as the only “legitimate” form of government. What we have here is a ‘world-class’ business sector surrounded by human misery. With South Africa’s continuing first world corporate capitalism and under third world conditions that most citizens live in are both to a significant extent a product of post-apartheid government.
South Africa’s growth rate of an average 3 per cent a year is less than half that of the seven African countries who (with China, India and Vietnam) currently make up the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world. The country’s relative stagnation is surely an effect of its business-friendly (‘neoliberal’) economic model.
South Africa’s transition from apartheid is too often misconceived as merely a political shift in multi-party democratic ‘freedom’. What is forgotten is that while South Africa shifted through those torsions, the rest of the world also changed.
The fall of the Berlin Wall, the invasion and bombing of Iraq, and the shift in political direction across Western Europe and North America, led to changes in the global financial system which had been envisioned since the 1970s.
‘National capitalism’ is the modern synthesis of nation-states and industrial capitalism, the institutional attempt to manage money, markets and accumulation through central bureaucracy for the benefit of a cultural community of national citizens.
It is linked to the rise of large corporations as the dominant form of capitalist organization. Its main symbol has been a national monopoly currency.
National capitalism was never the only active principle in world political economy: regional federations, empires and globalization are at least as old or much older. The South African union is only a century old, its capitalism not much older.
There are no quick and easy solutions to South Africa’s inequality problem but we do need to do away with capitalism .The struggle of the working class is freedom. Freedom from hunger and poverty, freedom from war, freedom from the climate crisis, freedom from exploitation, from racial and sexual oppression.
We need positive freedom of the working class to run society. We need a workers revolution against the capitalist system.
“The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”