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South Africa's Owners Of The Economy Live In Glasshouses And Throw Stones - Part One

By Udo W. Froese
One of South Africa's wealthiest businessmen, Johan Rupert, chairman of Remgro, attacked the ruling African National Congress(ANC) when he accused the leadership and its governmentsaying, "Corruption, interference with the courts and red tape, that stymied business growth, are insults to the people of the country."

Rupert's business empire is one of the largest in South Africa, second only to that of the Oppenheimer family. The Remgro group of the Rupertsowns Africa's largest media empire among many other established industries. It has spread its wings to China and Scandinavia, building and owning 30% of China's Ten- Cent-Internet network.

This vast media empire in South Africa includes Nasionale Pers, Media 24, DSTV/Multi Choice, and an investment in the free-to-air television operator e.tv, also having offered to buy out a major share in the Caxton media house. Rupert's media company further bought out Namibia's 'Democratic Media Holdings (DMH)', also known as Dirk Mudge Holdings. And, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. The influence of the Rupert Empire is huge.It is almost as big as that of the Oppenheimers.

How can any fair market participation grow in a country, whereexclusive cartelised oligopolies, including the corporate media, rule the day? Government's red tape was firmly lobbied in place for the ruling party to protectthe vast business interests of its historic owners. As a result many new rulers were compromised and the masses dumped in structured poverty.

The disingenuous structures put in place by the owners of the economy understand theirstrategies to achieve their goals. It is about paying the lowest wages and making the highest profits, stealing from the taxpayers, as for example, the country's construction industry did in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, winning tenders for building the stadia and the road infrastructure.

It is about raiding the state coffers, paying minimal tax, at the same time insulting the ruling ANC, Namibia's SWAPO Party and Zimbabwe's ZANUPF to successfully marginalise the indigenous masses, openly displaying unrepentant rightwing mafia-style operations. The Mafia-style plunderbarons have no shame, no scruples, deploying their corporate media cartel, blaming the slide of the ZAR currency and the low performance of the economy on "those incompetent and corrupt blacks".

The strategies of the rightwing, mafia-style architects of apartheid to protect their status quo have become more sophisticated since Europe colonised Africa over threehundred- and-sixty years ago. To date, the disadvantaged remain the disadvantaged, being accused of "laziness, entitlement and ruining South Africa's big companies and their economy."Meanwhile, the oligarchs have long taken their assets offshore. At the same time, the indigenous labour force is further insulted and accused of being"responsible for ruining the labour market and work opportunities by demanding a living wage".

In other words, the historic plunder-barons do not wish to be giving up their slave trade and their loot. They lobby for questionable "checks and balances" and "minority rights"to re-enforce structured poverty and the status quo.

Welcome to sunny South Africa! It is about legalised corruption to get the best deals, abusing those with 'political connections' to get government contracts and tenders. "Those ANC blacks" with their close connections dance to thetune of the pipers' pay-cheques, singing their praises. Their counterparts in the US would be described as "house niggers", who have succumbed to the temptation of seven pieces of silver.In South Africa they would be described as "sell outs". Their names are known, as they appear on the boards of banks, the construction industry, the mining companies, the mobile-phone industry and other sectors of South Africa and the region's economy. It is common knowledge that fronting has become a lucrative business for a select few.

One should expect that double standards would not be part of a balanced, independent and unbiased media. But, the corporate media is answerable to its owners. Its platforms are used against the leadership of the black masses to sow confusion. The tactics to discredit and undermine have never changed. They have become more sophisticated.

There are many more cases of price-fixing, of hidden opportunistic theft and fraud in South Africa's private business sector, such as the massive assault on the value of the ZAR currency, the colluded price-fixing of the fish, bread, milk, sugar, cement, petrol and gas, fertiliser industries.

My next column, as Part 2 will document a host of private sector scams to defraud the state coffers and steal taxpayers' money, literally taking the basic food out of the mouths of the poor masses. Yet, they will not miss an opportunity to criticise and undermine the ANC. One would think that those, living in glasshouses couldn't afford to throw stones.


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