A monopoly is a firm who is the sole seller of its product, and where there are no close substitutes. An unregulated monopoly has market power and can influence prices. In South Africa, there are certain economic sectors which are monopolized by certain racial groups. To be quite precise, the South African white minority have monopolised the most significant economic sectors to such an extent where the monopolies are unregulated. South African monopolies emerged because of two main reasons. Firstly, whites “owned” the land and minerals which were required for economic production, and secondly, the pre-democratic governments gave whites exclusive rights to utilise what they had to generate wealth, while alienating and marginalising the black majority.
Since their arrival in Africa, white imperialist’s intentions have been-and are still-clear. Their main aim is to loot and generate as much wealth as possible. This would require that they rule and dominate all possible means of generating wealth. These are people who were at the time equipped with the know how and material to allow them to obtain power and subjugate the natives. Through this, they were able to monopolise all significant economic sectors that a nation is dependent upon to generate wealth, thus enriching themselves, and themselves only. The monopolistic nature of our economy which we are encountered with today is a product of racial supremacy and narcissism. Today, the most strategic economic sectors in South Africa are under white minority rule. These include, inter alia, the mining sector, the agricultural sector, the financial sector (particularly banks) and of course the industrial sector.
Though gifted with the skill to foresee sectors that would turn out to be the major contributors to the economy, the whites’ supremacist and imperial approach that essentially undermines everything black was also gifted with the flair of underestimation. Failing to see the potential of certain economic sectors would mean that they were not to monopolise them, thus the industries would be in the hands of blacks. Despite the expectations- following the pseudo-democracy which was obtained in South Africa subsequent to the African National Congress emerging victorious in the 1994 elections, and the articulations of the 1955 freedom chater- South Africa’s economy and wealth still remain in the hands of white minority. However there are two economic sectors or rather subsectors that are monopolised by blacks. These are the minibus taxi industry and the *township spaza shop industry*. Since 1994 there have been attempts by whites, through the government, to infiltrate these industries and steal them from black people. These can be seen in the government interference and attempts to formalise the taxi industry, as well as the very successful debauchery of black ownership of spaza shops and supermarkets in townships. Today, the government has allowed non taxpayers from foreign countries to take over spaza shops in townships. Are these Pakistanis and Somalis really not paying tax, are they really managing to keep their businesses sustainable even without subsidies or any aid from the government? Or is this just another act of white supremacy under the banner of the South African government in an attempt to decentralise power remove wealth from the hands of the black natives?
One indicating factor that would suggest that these are under black ownership and are run by natives is that they are both categorised as informal economic activities. Where there are whites, such can not be found. This goes to an extent where when whites are mining and stealing mineral resources, it is called mining, but when the mining activities are undertaken by blacks, it is referred to as “illegal mining”. This is because according to white people, a black man is not supposed to generate wealth in any other way despite working for them.
Since any industry or business sector monopolised by black people is called informal. This makes it seem appropriate for our puppet government to try and intrude the industry, in doing so decentralising and deracialising the ownership in the industry. All black dominated industries are in a way socialist in nature. These industries are also empowering, in that, most employees within a black owned business-if willing to learn-will be empowered with time and the cycle will continue with time. The next two sections are separate discussions of the two mentioned industries, with an attempt to put forward assertions that “because the industries are under black majority, there are attempts by the government to infiltrate these industries, in order to fulfil a mandate given to them from the supreme beings.”
The minibus taxi industry is the most most available and affordable mode of public transport in the country. From its genesis in the mid 1970s, it has been consistent in meeting the needs of the urban poor and working class. The industry is very dynamic and has managed to create a significant amount of jobs, especially for the illiterate. Unlike other forms of public transport, the minibus taxi industry has been able to survive without any form of government assistance. However since 1994, the government-with the help of white capitalists who own the media-has played a major role in tarnishing the image of the industry and made efforts to formalise the industry.
The minibus taxi industry is portrayed all over the country as a very dangerous mode of public transport. Taxi operators and drivers are presented to the public through media as dangerous people with delinquent behaviour that needs to be condemned. Neither the contribution the industry makes in helping urban commuters nor the contribution of the industry in the fight against unemployment is reported by the media. Yet on a daily basis we are subjected to reports about how there are conflicts between different taxi associations or how a taxi driver without the required driver’s permit crushed into a bus. It is surprising that it is never the case that two taxis crush into each other. The media is a powerful agent in trying to destroy the taxi industry. Notable is also the amount of positive media coverage other modes of transport such as buses and the Gautrain receives, especially when the minister and MECs of transport are promoting eco-mobility campaigns. This is despite minibus taxis being very effective and reliable. Perhaps more effective and reliable than all other forms of public transport when considering availability and affordability.
Have you ever asked yourself why taxis have not a designated lane in urban metros like BRT buses do, which were by the way adopted from Brazil and have proven to be quite expensive and inaccessible the majority of urban dwellers. Safety on the roads would certainly not be an issue if taxis had a reserved lane such as BRT buses, or if they were at least allowed to use the existing bus lanes. This is a possibility that the government will never consider as it would work against their mandate.
The greatest efforts by the government to debauch the black dominated minibus taxi industry are seen in the desperate formalisation attempts, particularly the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme. The TRP is central to the formalisation of the taxi industry. This is an alleged joint intervention by the industry and the government to address various challenges in the taxi industry. At the centre of these was the need to renew the current aged taxi fleet, which was considered unsafe and unreliable; improve the poor road safety record that seems to be associated with the industry; provide capital subsidy to operators in the form of scrapping allowance to purchase new purposebuilt taxi vehicles; formalise the taxi industry and bring it into the mainstream of public transport; and regulate the taxi industry. These are actions which are blatantly aimed at stealing the industry from black ownership and give power to the government. Firstly by mainstreaming it, thus in doing so exposing it to white economic systems which are designed to supress black economic activity, then secondly carefully and strictly regulating the industry in order to make it almost impossible to enter and even harder for blacks to continue to dominate.
It needs to be recognised that the so-called informal economy which forms part of the taxi industry is closely linked to the formal economy. Consequently, given the high levels of unemployment and poverty in South Africa, the importance of the informal sector and the taxi industry cannot be underestimated. Many people who become unemployed think of joining the taxi industry, perhaps because of the perceived easy way of getting into the industry. The role that the taxi industry plays in the public transport sector should be reason enough for the government to support this industry to improve its performance. But the government does not have the will, as it is protecting the interests of white monopoly capital and marginalising black business.
The township spaza shop industry has been invaded and taken over by foreign nationals. This is a process that is extremely agitating for township dwellers and has often sparked xenophobic and afrophobic attacks in townships. Perhaps the most important questions to ask is: firstly how can the government allow such a takeover, with the aim of disempowering black natives in the townships? Secondly, how is it possible that the takeover is allowed to go on, amid the controversy around the foreign nationals not having the appropriate documentation nor paying taxes? And lastly, how are these foreign owned spaza shops able to be sustainable, when black owned spaza shops have proven to fail dismally?
The answers to all these three questions lie in the government. The white controlled government, again in an attempt to destroy a black monopolised microeconomy, has been very successful in working together with big private cooperations to ensure that it becomes very difficult for black owned spaza shops to sustain themselves, despite being able to do so throughout the apartheid era and the early years of democracy. Since whites are not brave enough to come into the townships and takeover the businesses, and it would be very controversial and difficult for the government to formalise spaza shop industry, they needed an agent to use in their mission to take over. Safe to say, foreigners were vulnerable as they are asylum seekers, so in turn for protection by the government, they allowed to be used as agents of takeover. This is why these people are left to operate these businesses despite the lack of proper documentation, let alone not paying taxes. Or are they really not paying taxes? Perhaps not tax that is recognised by the South African Revenue Services, but these people pay a large portion of their profits to government officials and private businesses which help them to operate swiftly. Hence they are able to sell their products at lower prices, thus eliminating any black competition that exists. These are all actions that take place under the supervision of the government, and once again they can not be put to a halt, as the government’s mandate needs to be fulfilled.
Because black monopolies are not given a platform to exist and blacks are perpetually disempowered and disposessed of power and dominance. It is upon us black South Africans to ensure that white monopolies are destroyed and we reclaim what is ours as the black majority. This will require direct actions against white monopoly capitalists and imperialists, as well as removal of the current government from power, in order to give way to a government that aims to economically emancipate the black poor and working class of this country.