IN 1916, Vladimir Lenin wrote a famous pamphlet decrying imperialism as “the highest stage of capitalism”. Lenin pointed out how capitalism led to the formation of monopolies that, having conquered domestic markets, had to conquer foreign markets.
Ironically, as Lenin reminded us, “Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism … monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition.” As a monopoly, imperialism seeks to eliminate competition for the benefit of the capitalists who operate in foreign countries as imperialists.
An internationalist and communist leader, Lenin sought to conscientise Marxists all over the world about the workings and dangers of imperialism. Having grasped Lenin’s ideological counsel, the ANC, as “a disciplined force of the left”, adopted an anti-imperialist stance.
This outlook was informed by ANC’s struggle against British imperialism and apartheid, both of which were underpinned by monopolistic economic practices.
All this may sound abstract, unless we use real human beings in our time to demonstrate what Lenin warned against.
Recently, newspapers revealed shocking details about members of the well-known Gupta family. The Guptas are capitalists from India who came to South Africa to amass wealth. They did not come because they love us.
It was reported in the Sunday Times the Guptas used Siyabonga Mahlangu, a local collaborator, to bring a CEO of a South African parastatal to their house in Johannesburg.
As foreigners, and having come to extract resources in our country, the Guptas are not different from imperialists who travel to foreign countries in search of more wealth.
According to the Sunday Times, as soon as Vuyisile Kona was appointed acting chairman and CEO of SAA, he was taken by Mahlangu to the Guptas’ house – where he was offered R500000.
Kona apparently refused the “dirty offer”. Although the Guptas threatened to sue the newspaper, it has yet to receive a summons. Mahlangu is a special advisor to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, who has apparently been “captured” by the Guptas.
Before these reports surfaced, it was known the Guptas were close to President Jacob Zuma.
Indeed, many South Africans have been very worried about the seemingly compromising relationship between our president and the Guptas. Most troubling, was when it was reported that Fikile Mbalula had heard of his appointment to cabinet from the Guptas.
The question was: how can foreign capitalists summon a South African to tell him he has been appointed minister of sports?
We also know about the worrying relationship between the Guptas’ newspaper, The New Age, and state agencies, including the SABC. Not to be forgotten, is their failed attempt to hijack mineral rights of another firm in a suspicious deal that has since been reversed by our courts.
We must not forget, imperialists are foreigners. As monopolists, their intention is to thwart completion – so they alone amass wealth abroad. As capitalists who were born in India, the Guptas came to South Africa in search for new markets.
Since South Africa is a competitive environment, the Guptas use proximity to political power to thwart competition. The objective is to ensure they – and they alone – benefit from the state.
South Africans should talk about this. This discussion is important for the security of our state. Let no one use it as an instrument of imperialism.
Given its historic anti-imperialist orientation, the ANC is expected to be on our side.
As a leftist vanguard, the South African Communist Party should express interests in this debate.
Two weeks before Mangaung, Blade Nzimande said: “We do not want leaders who are lackeys of imperialists.” Could it be he was referring to the Guptas?
Last April, Zwelinzima Vavi wrote a moving open letter to Chris Hani: “Your deeds and principles will forever inspire us to advance the struggle against capitalism and imperialism to the highest levels.” Is Cosatu worried about the Guptas?
As for us ordinary members of the public, we must never be deluded to think what Lenin wrote in 1916 will never happen in our country today – imperialists are still there.