South Africa

Minister launches scathing attack on South African banks

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has launched a scathing attack on South Africa’s five large banks, the Western world, and rentier capitalism.

The attack followed Dlamini Zuma’s call for “class suicide”, popularised by Marxist and anti-colonial revolutionary Amilcar Cabral.

His theory promoted that national liberation movement leaders must identify fully with the oppressed working class in their struggle to achieve independence and social equality.

In April 2020, Dlamini Zuma said Covid-19 “offers us an opportunity to accelerate the implementation of some long agreed-upon structural changes…”.

“These opportunities call for more sacrifices and – if needs be – what Amilcar Cabral called ‘class suicide’ wherein we must rally behind the common cause,” she said.

She continued the communist and anti-capitalist rhetoric during her speech at the BRICS Youth Summit in Durban on 18 July.

She urged young people to “separate facts about BRICS from the dominant Eurocentric narratives of the world”.

“These narratives are mere Western representations of our nations aimed at reproducing old patterns of domination and control of the world at all costs,” she said.

She added that BRICS is fundamentally a history of resistance against colonial conquest and imperial abuse.

“The world finds itself at a crossroads, and as the Global South and BRICS nations in particular, we are on the verge of an unprecedented geopolitical revolution,” she said.

“A revolution whose impact, if seized and conducted responsibly,  will reverberate through generations and for centuries to come.”

Dlamini Zuma said oppressed people of the world are looking at BRICS for alternative directions toward a more humane and collectively prosperous global community.

She also took aim at the Bretton Woods System, which created a collective international currency exchange regime that lasted from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s.

The Bretton Woods System required a currency peg to the US Dollar, which was, in turn, pegged to the price of gold.

She said the system ‘imposed rules on us’, which benefitted Western corporations, regardless of the immediate or future detriment of developing countries.

She said “Bretton Woods Institutions” like the World Trade Organization (WTO), World Bank (WB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were also pursuing Western dominance.

“They served the enduring and hegemonic principles of unipolarity, principally in pursuit of Western dominance and control of wealth-producing resources from the developing world,” she said.

Dlamini Zuma encouraged youth leaders to break society from their acceptance of rentier capitalism as an accepted orthodoxy.

Rentier capitalism describes a system where individuals and businesses with market power are able to extract rent from everybody else.

Lastly, she turned her attention to the banking system, saying she expects an alternative banking and financing architecture for the global south.

“We currently have a structural problem of a banking industry that is not only greatly concentrated and monopolised but also, in many ways, does not serve our interests,” she said.

“For example, in South Africa, we are forced to kneel before five banks. This represents some of the most concentrated banking systems in the world.”

She said the greater concentration of banking to the big five has “clearly undermined accountability, hindered development, stifled competition and passed on the cost burden to citizens”.

“Without control over finance and banking, only those projects that converge with the interest of private interests will be funded while the interests of the communities we serve take a backseat,” she said.


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