BLACK AGENDA TV – "Black Diamonds”: South Africa’s Black Millionaires Act as Middlemen for Corporate Power

16 May 2013 — Black Agenda Report

By The Editors

An elite class of Black millionaires has “accumulate wealth at the expense of the vast majority” of South Africa’s people, said community organizer and researcher Molefi Ndlovu, on the latest edition of Black Agenda Television. These “Black Diamonds,” as they are called, have become “a sort of middleman, people who push the envelop for the people who hold real power in the country.”

Black Agenda Television, May 15, 2013

“Black Diamonds”: South Africa’s Black Millionaire Middlemen

A Tale of Black Cities

Black Caucus Hung Up on Cabinet

Contact: Glen Ford, 202.536.4721,

The “Black Diamonds”: South Africa’s Black Millionaires Act as Middlemen for Corporate Power

South Africa’s policy of nurturing the growth of black millionaires has allowed “political elites” to “accumulate wealth at the expense of the vast majority,” said Molefi Ndlovu, researcher at the Center for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa. “That’s why, today, we can speak of South Africa as being the most unequal society in the world, more than Brazil and other places,” Nlovu told Black Agenda Television executive editor Glen Ford.

The African National Congress (ANC) 1955 Freedom Charter, which promised nationalization of mineral extracting industries and redistribution of land, became a dead letter after the first non-racial elections, in 1994. “South Africa did not go through a revolutionary seizure of power,” said Ndlovu. “What happened was, there was a negotiated settlement which was set, to a large extent, under the terms of the apartheid regime.”

The ANC took control of the state apparatus at the height of neoliberal international pressures to downsize and privatize government. This meant “the state could not be the leader in the social transformation, that the state would take a back seat to private capitalist development.” For the past 20 years, said Ndlovu, this “trickle down policy” has not worked for the vast majority of black South Africans. “So, you find a very small minority of African empowered people, what we call the ‘black diamonds,’ who are making massive amounts of wealth in South Africa, but their role is to become a sort of middleman, people who push the envelop for the people who hold real power in the country, which is the same old multinational corporations that were operating during apartheid.”

Ndlovu, who works closely with community and youth organizations in the townships, believes last August’s massacre of 34 striking workers at the Marikana mine may have been a political turning point for the country. “There’s the sense that the police force has to instill fear, and to instill fear, you must kill, and so Marikana becomes a climax of the tendency that is developing in the police and security forces of the country.” South Africa is already the international leader in “social unrest and protest, more than China,” he said, with more than 100 recorded protests a month.

The direction the ANC is taking “is not in the interest of the vast majority of the people. It makes a lot of us nervous about where the soul of the party is going.”

A Tale of Black Cities

Majority Black jurisdictions across the nation have seen their local school and governing bodies “set aside, so that the governor can appoint stooges to impose massively unpopular programs of austerity; wage, pension, benefits and service cuts; and privatization,” said Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce Dixon, in a commentary on Black Agenda Television. “Quite simply, what austerity regimes do is turn local government from an entity that collects local taxes and fees, in order to pay its employees living wages and provide needed services, into a machine which collects local taxes and user fees from the poor and sends them straight to Wall Street as interest payments on an eternal, unpayable debt.”

“Telling each other how racist it is, and even suing in court for discrimination impact, is worse than a waste of time. It’s actual misdirection,” said Dixon. “The useful truth is: it’s capitalism, it’s disaster capitalism, it’s vampire capitalism. Capitalism that turns everything into debt, and in which some of the bloodsuckers have Black faces.”

Black Caucus Hung Up on Cabinet

The Congressional Black Caucus is “indignant and upset” at the paucity of Black faces in President Obama’s cabinet. Black voter loyalty at the polls, they say, should be rewarded with high level appointments. However, Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford maintains that “political constituencies are not necessarily rewarded for their loyalty. Rather, they are given recognition and rewards in order to keep them loyal. In other words, there must be a credible threat that, if a politician does not do right by one of his constituencies, they will stop being so loyal.”

The administration has curried favor with Latinos, who voted in lower proportions for Obama, in order to retain their loyalty. Since Blacks made no demands on Obama in either presidential contest, he sees to need to placate them. The Black Caucus’s fixation on cabinet positions is misdirected, said Ford. “What good are Black cabinet members if administration policies work against Black people’s interests, and the interests of humanity at large? Eric Holder is the nation’s first Black Attorney General. Effectively, whole sections of the Bill of Rights have ceased to exist under this president, and yet all the Congressional Black Caucus seems to be upset about is that we don’t have more Eric Holders in high positions.”

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