There Can be No Capitalism Without Corruption!

For Regime Change! For System Change!

For a workers government on a socialist programme

Nkandla, Guptagate, the arms deal, failed local government audits, fraudulent qualifications, the slanderous attacks on the Public Protector, cover-ups. A poisonous stench of corruption is now flowing out of every pore of the Zuma-led ANC administration that resembles a broken sewage system.  Emboldened by his so far unsuccessful attempts to force him to pay back the Nkandla money or to have corruption charges against him reinstated, Zuma is pressing ahead with the nuclear power station build programme. This will open the sluice gates to corruption on an industrial scale that will make the arms deal corruption look like child’s play.

Projected to cost at least R1 trillion (almost as much as the country’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of the all goods and service produced in the country annually) it is in the opinion of most economists, including, even if he will not say it openly, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene himself,  completely unaffordable. In persisting with the nuclear power plan, Zuma has disregarded the advice of the National Planning Commission – the authors of the neo-liberal economic programme that is supposed to develop the economy. He has ignored SA’s economic realities – the budget and current account deficits, the decline of the rand and the slowing of economic growth to less than 2%. He has shown no interest whatsoever in the environmental threat nuclear energy poses. A non-entity like Mosebenzi Zwane is thus the perfect candidate for the Mineral Resources ministry.

Nkandla, the Guptas, and the nuclear build programme are not simply a grotesque reality show acted out by the corrupt. Corruption affects the lives of the working class and the poor on a daily basis as every aspect of service delivery is treated as an opportunity for self-enrichment. As the Attorney General has found year after year, the majority of councils are mismanaged resulting in billions lost. Only a minority get clean audits. It affects health, education and housing. In the most advanced economy on the African continent, children drown in excrement in pit toilets. The majority of working class schools do not have decent sanitary facilities, libraries, or computer facilities. 500 000 children with disabilities are excluded from the schooling system for lack of decent facilities to accommodate their needs. Thousands live in shacks without, electricity, water or sanitation.

Private Sector Corruption

Corruption is not a government monopoly. Corruption in the private sector is far greater. In fact it is as if the Zuma government is determined to match the standards of corruption set by big business. The Times reports that “South Africa has ‘the most corrupt corporate class on earth according to the business consultancy Price Water House Coopers in February 2014. In the words of The Times, South African management ‘is the world leader in money-laundering, bribery and corruption, procurement fraud, asset misappropriation, and cybercrime’, with 77 percent of all internal fraud committed by senior and middle management.

It is estimated that that there could be anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 government procurement centres where the collusion between government and business is located and where an estimated 42% of the state’s budget for services is divided up.

As the scandal engulfing Volkswagen shows, which since 2009 manipulated on-board computers in over 11 million vehicles to understate its pollution emission levels, corruption is capitalism’s lifeblood. A report tabled at the Pan African parliament reveals that at least R500bn a year flows out of the African continent undetected through fraudulent schemes which enable multinational companies to rob some of Africa’s poorest countries of tax money, like transfer pricing, trade misinvoicing and other acts of criminality. SA is one of the nations most deeply affected by illicit outflows of capital, ranking third after Nigeria and Egypt in cumulative losses from 1970 to 2008. These ran to $81.8bn (R5.79 trillion), or 11.4% of Africa’s total illicit financial flows, the report said.

The Alternative Information Development Agency’s Dick Forslund found that Lonmin – centre of the strike that culminated in the Marikana massacre – has for years engaged in elaborate schemes to understate profits and tax evasion to protect a wage gap that means it will take a platinum worker 300 year to earn what a CEO earns in one year. Nothing demonstrates more clearly than the Marikana massacre that the ANC is an agent of the economic dictatorship of the capitalist class.

The toothless Competition Authorities, overwhelmed by private sector corruption, can secure the conviction of only a few by offering amnesty in exchange for giving evidence against each other. With companies budgeting for fines, there are no consequences. Virtually all areas of the economy are soaked in corruption, with price fixing in everything from bread to cement.  The bread producing cartel started its criminal manipulation of a staple of the working class and the poor as far back as 1994.

The capitalist class saw apartheid’s end as no more than the exchange of one set of political managers for another. Behind the mask of black majority rule and bourgeois parliamentary democracy they continued looting as they did under apartheid.

The ANC government’s suicidal embrace of the neo-liberal economic policy GEAR in 1996 effectively converted the country into a sub-continental bazaar – everything was for sale, exchange controls weakened, company taxes lowered, major JSE companies allowed to list abroad, and foreign investors allowed to buy stakes in the media, banks, mining, manufacturing and state-owned enterprises facilitating a massive transfer of profits out of the country. It led to the virtual destruction of the textile and clothing industry. Now the mining industry is in crisis and the metal and engineering industry is on its knees with up to 190 000 jobs threatened in the next 6 months.

SA is now the most unequal society on the planet, with 14m going hungry every night, 54% living in poverty and mass unemployment whose burden is crushing 60% of the youth. Just two people – Nicky Oppenheimer and Johann Rupert – own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of society. There can be no capitalism without corruption.

This government must go with its masters – the capitalist class. After two major splits – COPE and the EFF – the ANC’s divisions are deepening under Zuma with even his KZN power base now split. With the ANC only getting 36% of its vote in urban areas, and 12m staying away from the 2014 polls, the ANC is in fact leading a minority government. The resistance of poor communities, students and organised workers is determined but still separate. It cries out for unity. This march is an opportunity to assemble the forces for a mass workers party.

Capitalism worldwide is headed towards another crisis likely to be greater than that of 2008 – itself the worst since the 1930s’ Great Depression. The only solution is the overthrow of capitalism and the socialist transformation of society. For a mass workers party on a socialist programme!

Originally written as a pamphlet distributed on the Unite Against Corruption march on 30 September 2015