Cape Town – Outgoing Eskom CEO Brian Molefe has called on South Africans to stop being distracted by those wanting “to see black people fail” and instead focus on defeating the “demon of racism and exploitation” to “sort out this white dominated economy”.
In a scathing critique of black economic empowerment (BEE), Molefe told the New Age Breakfast on Wednesday that “black people have begun to believe the often repeated lies that blacks can only advance economically if they steal or if they are corrupt”. His speech was released on Facebook by Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe.
Molefe resigned this month after former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report implicated him as being close friends with the Guptas, amid coal deals that allegedly helped the family buy Optimum Coal Mine from Glencore through their company Tegeta Resources and Energy.
“I wish to reiterate that this act is not an admission of wrongdoing on my part,” Molefe said in his resignation speech on November 11. “It is rather what I feel to be the correct thing to do in the interests of the company and good corporate governance.”
He said he wanted to take time off to reflect before deciding on his next career move. Wednesday’s speech may point in the direction he wants to go: politics.
FULL SPEECH: Brian Molefe gets tough on economic transformation
Molefe opened his speech with a quote from Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth: “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
He seems to be leading a new campaign to fulfill a mission to overcome the “monstrous beast” that South Africa faces in “its resilience in resisting change and transformation”.
He said that when black South Africans “embarked in earnest, on the titanic struggle of trying to re-distribute the wealth of the country, we found the owners of the means of production – those who hold economic power in this country – more than prepared. In fact, we are only now touching their raw nerve.”
Whites ensured they controlled BEE
Molefe said the “white bourgeoisie” ensured that they controlled BEE and Affirmative Action programmes.
“Firstly, significant numbers of whites have become the real beneficiaries of the BEE processes, either as transaction advisers or as the ones selling shares to blacks.
“Secondly, many white companies use the same process for fronting, thus ensuring that the economic benefits remain in white hands.
“Thirdly, in some instances, the principle of ‘once empowered always empowered’ means that the economy of this country would remain, mainly, in white hands.
“Above all, the pace, the content and the shape of these BEE measures proceed according to the dictates and fancies of the powerful white capital.
“Unsurprisingly therefore, economic transformation moves at a snail's pace. Economic change touches only the periphery of the South African economy. Indeed, few of us from the villages and townships of South Africa would and have made it into the economic mainstream.
“Those who have made it into the affluent ranks of South Africa since 1994 are the exception rather than the norm. On another occasion, this leadership gathered here today must examine whether the few who have overcome the many apartheid economic hurdles are themselves lending a helping hand to those who are still struggling.
“Clearly, the economic power in South Africa still resides, in the main, in the hands of those who benefited from apartheid. In other words, it is still in white hands.”
Whites keep wealth to themselves
Molefe said “the Beast and its surrogates have been hard at work throughout Africa to ensure that African wealth continues to benefit white people, whether resident locally or quietly settled in their home countries.
“They continue to use various methods to fight attempts by the natives to be sufficiently empowered.
“Attempts by the natives at economic transformation are seen by the beneficiaries of apartheid and colonialist economic systems as trying to interfere with white monopoly capital.
“Accordingly, a number of concerted campaigns have been mounted to discredit as many black businesses and black entrepreneurs as possible. This is natural for them, because the true success of black businesses in this country is seen as a threat to white monopoly capital.
“In reality, this should not be the case, because there should be a symbiotic relation between the inevitable advancement of black business and the protection of established white business.
“Unfortunately, the deep polarisation of our society, the legacy of legal apartheid, still makes many white people to see ‘Swart Gevaar’ whenever black people like ourselves, appear across the corner.
“Again, unfortunately, significant parts of the media still pander to the racist view that a black person is guilty until proven otherwise.
“Tragically, in our country, even some among our black people have begun to believe the often repeated lies that blacks can only advance economically if they steal or if they are corrupt.
“That to advance, we need white supervision and tutelage. This is despite the fact that since black people took over the country they have helped to increase the economy of South Africa threefold, often defying intermittent global economic meltdowns.
“Nobody can sort out this white dominated economy for us. History has imposed that obligation on our shoulders, just as our ancestors demanded of the generation of Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu and others to deliver political freedom in their lifetime.
“The determination that made them never to waver, even in the face of great difficulties, must similarly inspire us in this mammoth task of economic transformation. Personally, I have no doubt that we have what it takes to overcome.”