IN THE HUNT of Davos, South Africa, like most black nations, is a small animal. More hunted than hunter, a quarry captured in the financial snare of the might of global white monopoly and rendered almost motionless under its force and might. South Africa’s financial grit was shredded in the jowls of colonialism and apartheid, as its economy served as an instrument in the building of western empires.
Today, we are a nation, but yet to flex sufficient economic muscle required in the chase for economic self-determination and liberation. In the dens of Davos, with its peacock parade of white privilege and power, the South African contingency did not display the requisite self-confidence or consciousness of a winning nation.
Until we supersize our economic appetite and expectations on a slaver of steadfast selfbelief and courageous leadership, South Africa will remain an economic slave on the sidelines of a relentless imperialistic hunt, sated on a happy meal of small fries. The president of black consciousness movement, Black First, Land First (BLF) Andile Mngxitama said last week: “African leaders are off to Davos to prostrate themselves before the IMF and World Bank. Africa is a colony.”
But the newly elected leader of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa said it was a “very, very successful pilgrimage” for South Africa. As he headed back to South Africa, Ramaphosa spoke with a flush of victory: “I am leaving Davos tonight with bags full of investment commitments that will deliver great dividends to our people.” Davos was a “pilgrimage” to “sell South Africa”, the new ANC leader said. In the words of Colin Coleman, the number one man at Goldman Sachs, the mission of Davos for Team SA was to “get the message across that we are laying out the red carpet for foreign investors”. While Cyril Ramaphosa, with his select contingent, may have been a master-charmer at Davos, giving investors pride of place in the game, the master hunter of Davos was Donald Trump, as he placed his country as the alpha, as one would expect from a confident leader of a pack. “As president of the US, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first too,” Trump said.
Trump may be an offensive head of state, but he is a supreme salesman. If the “yes, sir, three bags full” investment yield from Davos, is indeed huge, many will argue that Ramaphosa has done a sterling job of “selling South Africa”. However, I feel that he shortchanged and discounted the ANC’s radical economic transformation programme by wasted a prized opportunity to give RET pride of place in his speech making at this premium global economic event. Ramaphosa wooed those in the business echo-chamber of Davos, on a verbal drum of anti-corruption speak, a mouthful of antiZuma saliva and on a crowd-pleasing doubledose of double-speak on the mining charter and nuclear energy programme. There seemed to be little talk of the December resolutions on radical economic transformation, although according to the agenda of Davos 2018, the issues of poverty and inequality were high priority items. But perhaps it is difficult to speak about poverty and inequality in a den of whiteness, where the spittle of white praise is a commodity in the game of capture.
Tito Mboweni, an ANC stalwart and former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, mused about leadership last week. “In political leadership, be careful not to make hasty decisions encouraged by forces outside your organisation. Never be misled by sudden, seemingly positive market sentiments, it’s temporary. It will come to pass” It was disheartening to see how Ramaphosa followed the ready and very demeaning script of CNN host Christine Amanpour on the recall of President Jacob Zuma and how he did not rise to the defence of the president in the catch of insults from this notoriously conservative interviewer. Mboweni spoke too, of the danger of “political adventurism”. “One has to carefully study the balance of forces, Mboweni said. “Adventurist political decisions may tear an organisation or country apart.
That’s what an opposition or an enemy to you yearns for.” In my reading, Ramaphosa’s showcase leadership at Davos was an adventure of opportunism rather than a convincing demonstration of courageous leadership. He missed an opportunity to disrupt and own the hunt of Davos by stating, with the confidence of a Trump, that radical economic transformation in South Africa comes first, before the investor. As the Ramaphosa rally returns from the cheers of the huntsmen of the imperialistic world economy, to the colony of South Africa, the new president of the ANC faces a real divide in the organisation and a harrying attack from opposition forces who are trying to disorientate and unsteady the ANC. Ramaphosa, would do well to heed the caution from Mboweni about the fair-weather support of fickle markets and media. These very same media and market cheerleaders will tear into Ramaphosa the very moment he threatens the undercarriage of the economic privilege and power.
There are few true friends in this hunt. The hunt for economic control is a blood sport. There are few true friends in this game for power. Just ordinary people. True leadership will always find ordinary people, and ordinary people will always find true leadership. Even in a colony still in the clutch of economic capture.
Kim Heller is a columnist and commentator