In 1994, who lost/gained power in SA?

Date: May 23, 2017

Who lost political power at midnight on 26th April 1994 and who gained political power at midnight on 27th April 1994 and what have they done with that power? By Political Analyst Moeletsi Mbeki

To understand what is happening in South Africa today one needs to ask oneself two questions:

  1. Who lost political power on 26th April 1994?
  2. Who gained control of political power on 27th April 1994?

Political power gives its holder the monopoly to tax society.  It also gives its holder control of the state and especially control of the state’s monopoly of violence in order to collect the taxes.

At midnight on 26th April 1994 Afrikaner nationalists who where a coalition of producers of maize, gold and sugar lost political power.  White people who never controlled the state retained their political, economic and social rights which they had before April 26th 1994.

At midnight on 27th April 1994 Black nationalists which where a coalition of black middle class, leaders of organised labour and civil society gained controlled on political power and therefore control of the state.   Black people at the same time acquired the same political, economic and social rights as the whites had all along but they did not control the state.

Another way to understand South Africa today is to compare South Africa to China during the last 30 years.  Both countries undertook very radical reforms during this period.  China embarked on a mega economic reform programme in 1978 under the title: The Four Modernisations.  These consisted of modernisation of agriculture; industry; science & technology and armed forces.  China however unlike South Africa did not modernise its one party dominated political system.

The results of China’s successful modernisation are well known throughout the world.  China lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.  It developed the largest middle class in the world.  It became the second largest economy in the world after the United States.

In the mid-1980s South Africa initiated negotiations for a mega political modernisation programme of democratisation, hence the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, Codesa.  The democratisation reforms were a great success making South African democratic institutions the most entrenched in Africa.  South Africa has a functioning and vibrant multiparty system; it has an independent judiciary and media; it has the largest truly independent and commercially viable private sector on the continent.

Unlike China South Africa failed to modernise its economy when it modernised its political system.  This is what accounts for South Africa’s triple malaise of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Unable to meet the demands for economic modernisation the ANC government is turning to racial nationalism and adopting an anti-West posture.  It has created a scapegoat called White Monopoly Capital. 

South Africa needs to learn from China and develop its own Four Modernisations.

What have the Black nationalists done with the political power that they gained at midnight on 27th April 1994?  They went on a consumption binge.

For the last 23 years ANC rule has been one big feast for the middle and upper classes of all races.  The state and its state enterprises created a massive and hugely overpaid black managerial class.  Not to be left out the private sector joined in this enterprise by also promoting vast numbers of middle class employees.  In the meantime South Africa’s productive sector stagnated due to lack of investment and in the process shrunk throwing off work hundreds of thousands of workers in mining, manufacturing and agriculture. South Africa’s unproductive real economy has therefore become a major importer of much of what is consumed.  We import chicken wings and drumsticks; beef; sugar; shoes; luxury cars etc.

What is the solution to this crisis?

LISTEN TO FULL discussion with #AMLive anchor Sakina Kamwendo

Moeletsi Mbeki is a Political Economist. Opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this article are that of the author and NOT of the SABC


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