The VBS mutual bank scandal and the position of the African working class

The South African district-based “Black owned bank,” Venda Building Society (VBS), has again been thrown into our faces raising mixed emotions to many.

VBS is a mutual bank in Occupied Azania that saved Jacob Zuma, former South African president, from his multi-million rands financial crisis when it loaned him R7.5 million to settle his debt for the R250 million that was spent to upgrade his private home.

When the bank loaned Zuma the money after he had been howled for months by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) in parliament to “Pay Back the Money,” infecting some sectors of society and the public to wage national campaigns against the then president, it was largely celebrated by those who claim to be against what they have termed “White monopoly capital.”

The most notable of the glorifiers of VBS mutual bank was the pro-Zuma Pan Africanist organization, Black First Land First (BLF) led by Andile Mngxitama who went to social media encouraging every black person to close their accounts with the White owned banks and open one with the “black owned bank.”

This time, unfortunately, the “heroic” bank that saved a black president, who is supposedly fighting for Radical Economic Transformation, has now won media and public attention by being caught up in a scandal of failing to account for millions of depositors’ money and threats of being on the verge of collapse.

The bank is also accused of taking out millions of rands to spoil the king of the former Bantustan-Venda, Toni Ramabulana, with luxurious comforts and a R12 million worth helicopter for his use.

The bank has now been put under curatorship by the South African reserve bank.

It is true that White owned banks have been in similar scandals, and succeeded in ducking public ridicule, such as that suffered by this black owned bank.

Barclays, which was founded from profits made from the enslavement of Africans, is in coalition with ABSA, a bank that was consolidated to present a facade of the history of working hand and glove with the apartheid settler colonial regime to keep Africans oppressed while generating trillions of dollars at our expense.

The same ABSA bank has been exposed to owe more than one billion rands from Bankorp Limited/ABSA bank with billions that were “advanced as an ‘illegal gift’ to the Bankorp group, which was bought by ABSA in the early 1990s.”

Obviously Barclays and ABSA owe us far more than that─and that goes for all banks, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Notwithstanding all of that, we cannot afford to take a liberal stance on black owned institutions like VBS and not make a criticism on them while our people perish in the swatta camps of Occupied Azania.

Thus, the stance often pushed by organizations like the BLF in cases of black petty bourgeoisie forces that do not serve the interest of the people and end up running into contradictions with their masters—to turn around and expect our support—is reactionary and opportunistic to say the least.

All banks including VBS Mutual bank are built on parasitism

We need a black bank, right, but over and above we need Black Power!

We need the power for black people, not an assortment of individuals who share our complexion, to have total control of our politics and economy.

It has become evident that Pan Africanists are race nationalists and have no interest in confronting the economic base of parasitism that gives platform to all businesses and banks, whether white owned or black owned.

Why would we oppose the African working class, collectivizing their money to build their own financial institution and bank their money to build towards their own socialized economy?

Why would we be opposed to the African working class, in alliance with the poor peasantry and other progressive forces collectivizing their resources to build their own businesses and institutions of self-reliance and dual contending power with the parasitic capitalist forces to accumulate strength and independence towards the overthrow of white power capitalism?

We cannot be opposed to such efforts because our responsibility is to support the people in liberating themselves from the shackles of colonial-capitalist imperialism.

The African petty bourgeoisie, like the VBS mutual bank owners, cannot give us Black Power because they are wasteful and their interests are tired with the white ruling bourgeois class.

On June 29, 2018, Sowetan published a story of Robert Madzonga, CEO to VBS mutual bank’s majority shareholder company, Vele Investment, who shamelessly stated that “My role model was Johann Rupert. Johann Rupert has 100 cars worth billions.”

Clearly this is not someone who would put his money on a business for the people to get something from it.

He is a wasteful individual, as characteristic of the petty bourgeoisie class. Sowetan reported that, “A helicopter, a Rolls Royce, Two G63 Mercedes Benz monsters as well as Audi R8 sport car are among the toys said to belong Robert Madzonga.”

Black owned banks are a neocolonial solution

The idea of a black owned bank, or simply black owned businesses, like the self-proclaimed black owned media house, Afro News, is a neocolonial solution to resolving the contradictions between the white bourgeoisie and the aspiring black or African petty bourgeoisie.

The African petty bourgeoisie has been fighting this selfish struggle for decades, more sharply since the dawn of “flag independence”─neocolonialism.

Unwittingly, the African working class has since been dragged into this struggle of perfecting the colonial parasitic system for years without seeing any sign of freedom from exploitation and poverty.

The reason for this is the African petty bourgeoisie, which has been leading the liberation struggle, has no interest in overturning capitalist parasitism and empowering the entire population to gain total access and control to the wealth of the economy.

Only the African working class can genuinely lead us

Chairman Omali Yeshitela correctly stated, “The African petty bourgeoisie has lost any historically derived progressive character.”

We must not expect anything beyond a compromise on any struggle led by the African petty bourgeoisie.

That is what it is and it has always been that way. The African petty bourgeoisie is a class of compromise in the great struggle between the bourgeoisie and the colonized working class.

It is not a black owned bank or business that is going to overturn the parasitic capitalist system.

The African People’s Socialist Party, going to its seventh Congress in October 2018, has correctly pointed that the political and the economic are one.

Therefore, it is only the African working class, in alliance with the poor peasantry and other progressive forces that can genuinely build institutions that can serve the interest of the people and take us a step or steps further towards true freedom, and self-determination.

Tafarie Mugeri is the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party -Occupied Azania*

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