Monopoly capital 'has no colour, gender or faith' - Cronin
6 July 2017
Cape Town – SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin says the idea of monopoly capital is a reality that has always been around, but it has no colour, gender or faith.
Cronin told News24 on the sidelines of a Cape Town Press Club event on Wednesday that the Communist Party has a long history with the idea of "monopoly capital".
Both he and his party had gotten involved in heated debates about the subject during the ANC's national policy conference this week, but said the idea ultimately is larger than just one race.
"We've seen the sudden resurrection of it via the Bell Pottinger influence on the Gupta machinery, introducing the notion of monopoly capital but adding the notion of white.
"We've tried to call the bluff on that. Now, unquestionably, the majority of capitalists in South Africa are white, and male. So as a shorthand, you might talk about 'white monopoly capital'.
"But capital, is not a person or persons. It's not even just money. It's money, it's machinery, it's a process of exploitation.
"So therefore capital has no colour, no gender, no faith, no whatever. It's capital, but it's supported by agents, who are capitalists."
He said getting involved in the debate at the policy conference may have been inadvisable, as it slowly became an academic contest.
He said SACP members had been accused of being in denial, but he believed those who disagreed wanted "black monopoly capitalists" to be the cutting edge of change.
He agreed that the recent use of the term was probably more to advance a certain narrative rather than advance a viewpoint with substance.
Earlier in his speech, he said the Communist Party had been first to expose Bell Pottinger's role in developing the term.
Cronin was asked by a member of the Press Club during a question round how he intends to vote in the upcoming motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma on August 8.
He said he had not made up his mind 100% just yet, but even if he had, he did not want to reveal his thought process, as it would alert his opponents to how he would vote.
"You can decide for yourselves who my opponents are," he joked. The SACP and Cronin have previously stated publicly that Zuma must step down.
There was also a good chance the vote would be postponed again, if Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete ruled it would be via open ballot, he believed.
He expected opposition parties to then contest such a decision on its "rationality", and would take the issue back to the courts before Parliament votes.
He told News24 afterwards that there is nothing wrong with political parties enforcing MPs to vote a certain way.
MPs represent the public in Parliament on a party ticket, and they are not voted in directly, as in other political systems like the United States.
ANC MPs who vote with their party, therefore, were not in direct conflict with the Constitution. They needed to be guided by their oaths.
"So if I hypothetically vote for a UDM motion or a DA motion, I'm not in conflict with the Constitution per se. I might be in conflict with my conscience, or perhaps do it reluctantly, etc."
He said MPs also had an abstention route, which could be the option that many anti-Zuma ANC MPs may end up choosing.
The party had on previous occasions allowed MPs to vote on religious matters with their conscience, such as abortion legislation, but those were exceptions.
He said the practice is not unique to the ANC, as the Democratic Alliance also holds the same line, and enforces it "even more strictly" than the ruling party.
DA councillors underwent lie detector tests "voluntarily" last month in Mogale City to determine who had voted with the ANC to depose former mayor Michael Holenstein, the party claimed.
DA councillor Brandon May however did not go through with the test and instead sent his letter of resignation to the speaker of council.