President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday night in Sandton that it was time for South Africa to do away with vilifying businesspeople and that the label “white monopoly capital” should be discarded once and for all.
His comments are likely to divide opinion in the ANC, which still has a faction that clings to the label and which was hoping Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would succeed Jacob Zuma as president.
The white monopoly capital label was the subject of heated debate at the ANC policy conference last year, where it was decided that the phrase “monopoly capital” could be used, but not “white monopoly capital”.
Last year, when he was still president following that conference, Zuma, however, maintained at a lecture in Cape Town that “the patterns of ownership and management and control [of the economy]” should still be called white monopoly capital.
He added: “Those who say that one does not exist, they live in another country.”
At the conclusion of his investment summit in Sandton on Saturday, where he had received pledges of hundreds of billions of rands as future investment from big business in South Africa, Ramaphosa said: “We should treat our entrepreneurs as heroes, and move away from what we had been fed with and [grown] accustomed to here, where we treated our entrepreneurs and businesspeople [badly] … and called them all sorts of names…”
Ramaphosa adopted a particularly dismissive tone when he said: “We treated them like enemies and … white monopoly capital, and all that … that must end today,” he added with emphasis and to resounding applause.
“We want to make our businesspeople heroes.”
Ramaphosa is leaving on Sunday on a working visit to Germany to attend the G20 Africa conference from October 29 to 30 in Berlin, Germany.
Ramaphosa is also expected to speak – in his capacity as co-chair of the G20 Africa advisory group – at the G20 investment summit. The summit intends to bring together German businesses and Compact with Africa countries to further explore investment opportunities under the framework of the G20 partnership with Africa.
As part of his working visit, Ramaphosa will have a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He will be accompanied by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.