Friday, December 06, 2013

A somewhat contrarian view on Nelson Mandela

The distinguished British journalist, John Pilger, has a rather different view of the Mandela legacy, whatever the heroism Mandela may have displayed in fighting apartheid.

In an article he wrote for the New Statesman, he suggests that the arrangement that Mandel arrived at with the Afrikaner regime, in effect, allowed the Afrikaner elite to continue their domination of the economy while coopting the black elite into it. For the vast majority of blacks, the transfer of power didn't add up to much:

With democratic elections in 1994, racial apartheid was ended, and economic apartheid had a new face. During the 1980s, the Botha regime had offered black businessmen generous loans, allowing them set up companies outside the Bantustans. A new black bourgeoisie emerged quickly, along with a rampant cronyism. ANC chieftains moved into mansions in "golf and country estates". As disparities between white and black narrowed, they widened between black and black.

The familiar refrain that the new wealth would "trickle down" and "create jobs" was lost in dodgy merger deals and "restructuring" that cost jobs. For foreign companies, a black face on the board often ensured that nothing had changed. In 2001, George Soros told the Davos Economic Forum, "South Africa is in the hands of international capital."
Something to chew over as the world mourns the passing of Mandela. 

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