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ANC statement on Johan Rupert's remarks on radical economic transformation

14 September 2017

The African National Congress has noted with regret reports of statements attributed to South African billionaire, Johann Rupert, that the ANC program for radical economic transformation is nothing more than a "code name for theft". This statement is disingenuous, and extremely opportunistic coming as it does from a beneficiary of apartheid's exclusionary policies such as Rupert. We condemn this arrogant attitude towards the majority of South Africans who have an active interest and are drivers of the change envisaged through radical economic transformation.

The African National Congress has committed itself to a radical reshaping of our economy and social relations - defining radical economic transformation as the quest for fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favor of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female. Achieving this will demand structurally changing the fundamental features of South Africa's political economy and dismantling of an economic structure which continues to perpetuate inequality and monopolistic tendencies in favor of Rupert and his ilk.

The discourse on radical economic transformation is informed by the racial inequalities that are evident in the economic life of South Africa. These inequalities are a legacy of the social engineering and structural underpinnings of the Apartheid political economy. By its design the colonial system, and particularly its apartheid form, enforced a social order in which access to economic opportunity was an exclusive privilege of white people.

In that formation, the black majority is locked into a cycle of serving only as cheap labour that is super exploited for the purposes of capital accumulation by a white minority. This has resulted in a systemic trap of an over concentration of economic assets in the hands of white people and a systematic exclusion of successive generations of black people from sustainable economic livelihood.

It is these racialised economic relations that have produced the generational wealth of the Rupert Family that Mr Johan Rupert now commands. Thus, his arrogant condemnation of the important discussion about economic transformation in our country betrays his ill-gotten privilege. More importantly, it is these arrogant attitudes on the part of the privileged sections of our society that threaten the very idea of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa that we have always struggled for.

The ANC will unapologetically continue to lead the people of South Africa towards improving the collective welfare of our people and will not be deterred by naysayers such as Rupert. We will instead redouble its efforts to effect the change required to deal with the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We have full confidence in our institutions of democratic accountability to ensure this is done in a manner consistent with the stated objectives and within the confines of our laws. For his part, Rupert would be well advised to desist from derogatory, unfounded statements based on his innate inclination to preserve privilege and prosperity for a few.

Issued by the African National Congress

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