OPINION | Time Big Money contests elections or stay out

todayJune 6, 2024 125

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How is it that it appears that black people are at sixes and sevens as to which way should configuration of party-political coalitions go compared to their white counterparts?

From the white hand side, these elections seem to be a culmination of a plan. From the black hand side, the situation reads like a bolt out of the blue pouring surprise rain when there was no cloud on sight.

Whites, as whole, and mainly their respective party-political formations, the DA and FF+, are less worried as what is unfolding fits into their plans. The net effect of these plans is for white people to continue being a cultural majority albeit being a numerical minority in the context of the exercise of economic power to storm the centre of the political sphere.

The person least expected to call out that ‘markets’ should not hold sway in the political decision-making for coalitions, is former chair in social justice at Stellenbosch University, Professor Thuli Madonsela.

Madonsela, who normally is given favourable airtime on any matter she is heard saying, has not been given as much prominent volume and frequency on this by favourable disposition she enjoys with the media.

Her warnings that markets should not dictate terms of engagement has not been markedly not as spirited to gain broad based oxygen across the media coverage. Madonsela’s caution nevertheless found reception in media outlets including The South African (online), Times Live (online) and Sowetan.

Other than that, there has not been the usual enthusiastic engagement. There has been no trigger of one-one-interviews or exclusive sought after with Madonsela on the centrality that the markets have positioned themselves to dictate terms of coalitions.

Clearly, the media is well tuned on issues that the ‘markets’ prefer should be given prominent topicality and which to avoid shining the spotlight on for its overreach propensity to matters political.

On the face of it, these elections are by design or accident a much-welcomed breakthrough for ‘the markets’, to a point of failure to resist the temptation to dare proffer what the political sphere should and shouldn’t do.

To this Madonsela’s voice flashed a yellow card of caution to the effect that markets were placing themselves in an off-side position to be allowed to play on.

Never has big money players exhibited itchy fingers so immodestly as has been demonstrated in these elections under the cloak of the ‘markets.’

The ‘markets’ that are without clear identification for ease of public discernment have had the joy of being spoken for by a battery of analysts, media, and commentators.

Against this, Madonsela has commendably been the unlikely voice to caution against the unchecked exuberance of the markets running roughshod to determine terms of engagement in political decision-making pertaining to coalitions. Madonsela said an ‘investor-friendliness approach should not be the only consideration during the talks.

“An approach primarily driven by investor friendliness is why the ANC is in its mess in addition to corruption,” Madonsela contended.

Stripped naked of all pretenses, ‘markets’ is the unrepentant white interests operating under cover that is a black-free zone – spelling designer absence of the numerical majority in the economic formations controlling wealth-creation, distribution, regulatory and ownership patterns leveraging unfettered monetised power, if left unchecked.

Left unchecked that black-free zone comprises of unelected billionaire private power demonstrably now buoyed to dictate terms to elected public power that is regrettably without liberatory resolve and confidence to blow a whistle on big money to observe desired boundaries and thus the legitimate exercise of public power to go about honouring the unfinished business of the liberation project to effect fundamental change that translates into a new society of equals.

Surely, equality cannot be a reason for the economy to not only walk away on fundamental change for societal wellbeing but also make it its business to walk an extra mile to torpedo the   much-awaited quest for true humanity that Steve Biko had dreamt to put a human face as a gift to a liberated country that South Africa hopes to be.

It is not about time the commentary community, academics and researchers, involved in ideas generation and knowledge production, demystified this nebulous thing called the ‘markets’ that are forever undermining the will of the people as that has disturbing resonance with unrepentant big money behaviour positioned as the very source of threat to the promise of freedom?

To avoid having the good intentions troubling my mind, from being misunderstood, it may be worth refreshing what grieves me the most.

If South Africa is to be believed as the world’s best loved democracy, then why is true liberation of the majority a nightmare for a numerical minority that had not only authored a system of black subjugation but also benefited from black oppression and thus see existential threat in its total replacement? Why should the economy of this country invest its security, viability, and prosperity in unending black pain?

To continue believing society will be stabler with the majority wallowing in conditions of unrelieved subordination is a troubling comment suggesting that the South African economy is fated to remain in the hands of interests fixated in wishing the present to mimic the past April 1994 had declared its time was over.

Never before has the cumulative appetite of ‘the markets’ been as boldly vocalised for prioritisation over the will of the people as in these South Africa’s May 2024 elections. The point being advanced is that the focus on “market-friendly coalitions” undermines the democratic process, where the voices of citizens are supposed to be represented.

At issue is the influence of “markets”, as reference to powerful economic interests and billionaires, exerting undue control over politics, leading to a disconnect between the elected government and the people they represent.

This phenomenon is often termed ‘neoliberalism’ or ‘corporate capture’.

To extricate the democratic process from ‘corporate capture’ gives rationale to a call for oligarchs’ allied interests to be yanked out and have them openly participate in the political arena as a demand for transparency and accountability.

Unless this is done, it renders the meaning of voting when citizens’ voices are seemingly overshadowed by the interests of the wealthy and powerful, in vain.

The red lights should forever flash against the creeping tentacles trained for the fatal erosion of democratic values and the need for a more authentic representation of the people’s will in governance. Written by Oupa Ngwenya, Corporate Strategist, Writer, Freelance Journalist and Project Coordinator of The 70s Group.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the content belong to the author and not Y, its affiliates, or employees.


Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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