A good rule of thumb is that if the communists welcome whatever the government does, champions of liberty should be very afraid.

n an unusually short press release, the South African Communist Party (SACP) welcomed the new cabinet.

“The South African Communist Party welcomes the announcement of the Cabinet by President Cyril Ramaphosa. In making changes to the Cabinet on 26 February 2018, the President announced that the Executive would be reconfigured after an evaluation of its structure and following consultation. The announcement made on Wednesday, 29 May 2019, is a culmination of the evaluation and the consultation processes the President had committed to undertaking.

The President has matched his words with his deeds – he has indeed walked the talk. This important attribute should be the defining feature of his leadership, and that of every member of the Executive, as well as Deputy Ministers, throughout this term of office.  The SACP participated in the consultation process within the framework of Alliance relations and acknowledges broader consultation with other leadership stakeholders of our South African society. In this regard, the reduction of the Cabinet down to 28 Ministers should be welcome by all South Africans. The transformation of the entire state to promote selfless and effective service to the people should continue, towards a capable national democratic developmental state.

Now is the time to turn South Africa around.”

There should be a rule of thumb (if there isn’t one already) that in South African politics, if the SACP welcomes something the government does, classical liberals, free marketeers and champions of liberty should be very afraid.

The nod from the SACP means that the changes desperately needed to turn South Africa into a modern and successful country are not going to happen. It means that we’re a ‘downgrade’ away from an economic meltdown and a begging letter to the International Monetary Fund.

The SACP must be extremely satisfied that its ideological prescripts are increasingly being met by President Ramaphosa’s new cabinet. The Alliance– the SACP, the African NationalCongress (ANC) and Congress of South African Trade Unions – is moving to its realisation of the National Democratic Revolution, towards a communist economy. 

Communists dominate in the departments most critical to South Africa’s realising economic growth and overcoming the litany of ills that the ANC has bequeathed this country. If the SACP is happy with the cabinet appointments, it must feel assured that the economy will not move to the capitalist centrethat business and ratings agencies hoped we would. The New Dawn is becoming the New Sunset. 

One of the most glaring of appointments is that of Dr David Masondo.

The Minister of Finance remains the pragmatic yet idiosyncratic Tito Mboweni, but Deputy Minister Masondo is every democrat’s nightmare.

Masondo, 44, is a member of the SACP. His career began with his election to the position of Northern Transvaal provincial chairperson of the South African Students Association (Sasco). One year later Masondo became Sasco’s national deputy president. Masondo then became Student Representative Council president at the University of the Witwatersrand(Wits) and in 1999 was appointed as a National Youth Commissioner on the National Youth Commission. 

From 2003 to 2005, he served as chairperson of the ANC Youth League in Limpopo, was the national chairperson of the Young Communist League and a member of the SACP central committee.

Masondo served as Limpopo finance MEC for the five months to December 2011 before former president Jacob Zuma put the province under administration. 

Masondo accused Zuma of trying to undermine the province by silencing opponents ahead of the Mangaung conference. ‘National Treasury was used to withhold funds due to the provincial government in order to create a cashflow crisis, to justify the disbandment of the provincial government,’ Masondo told City Press at the time. He wanted to take legal action against Zuma, but couldn’t find the necessary support. 

Masondo has been the SACP’s national political education coordinator and youth desk coordinator.

Academically, Masondo obtained a teaching diploma at Giyani College, later graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in politics, followed by a Masters at Wits. His thesis was on ‘labourrights in the vehicle manufacturing industry’. 

Masondo achieved a PhD from New York University for a thesis entitled ‘Post ApartheidNanny State: Case Study of the Motor Industry Development Plan (MIDP)’. He received the Ford Foundation International Fellowship’s PhD programme award and the MacCracken PhD scholarship during his doctoral studies.

In 2015, Masondo was appointed head of the Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) in the Gauteng provincial government. (The AIDC is a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, which is in turn an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development).  

The AIDC was established as a ‘support centre to strengthen global competitiveness in the local automotive industry and to bolster the position of Gauteng as an automotive industry destination of choice’. The website claims that AIDC ‘has accelerated economic growth within the automotive industry through strategic partnerships with government, non-governmental agencies, and industry leaders’. 

In 2016, the Economic Freedom Fighters raised questions in the provincial parliament about alleged maladministration, corruption, abuse of power and degradation of corporate governance standards by Masondo’s predecessor and others. The allegations included infringements of the Public Finance Management Act and the King Code on Good Governance. 

Masondo also served as a board member of the Financial Sector Charter Council, which advocates for the transformation of the financial industry. 

Masondo finally went on to become head of the ANC’s political school, the OR Tambo School of Leadership. 

Business Insider SA’s James de Villiers (Everything you need to know about David Masondo – SA’s young new deputy minister of finance, 30 May) writes: ‘Masondo has strong leftist leanings – in 2011, he started his budget speech in Limpopo with a quote from Karl Marx (“We make our own history but not in conditions of our own choosing”).

‘In the ANC’s quarterly magazine in 2018, Masondo advocated that South Africa should follow Taiwanese and South Korean examples to sell farms below market value to small-scale farmers. He said in South Africa the State should act as a custodian while people are given the right to farm. “In this policy model, the land becomes public property under the custodianship of the state, and it is leased to South African citizens and non-citizens based on socio-economic needs.”’

‘In the past,’ says Business Insider, Masondofavoured ‘policy instruments to curb high levels of income and luxurious consumption among elites’and defended the strict control of capital outflows, urging that ‘“policy sticks to keep the investable surplus in SA must be found… The economic crisis requires bold leadership, political will and militant working class movements to tackle the structural inequalities rooted in the unequal ownership of the key strategic resources. Unfortunately we don’t have all of these in SA. So business can relax”.’

Business cannot relax. A highly intelligent, well-educated man, steeped in Marxist/Leninist rhetoric, having both studied and taught left-wing ideology, is now the 2IC to our Finance Minister. 

Idiosyncratic as Tito Mboweni may be, he is one of the very few people whose presence in the cabinet might have been thought to provide some comfort to business.

One can only imagine the dynamics at play that placed the communist ideologue one heartbeat away from being finance minister.

To say that he has ‘strong leftist leanings’ is an understatement. It can safely be assumed that at the ANC’s Political School the works of John Stuart Mill, Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell were not required reading.

One thing many inside and outside the country agreed on was that we needed a cabinet that sent a message to the investment world that South Africa was open for business. 

‘Fraid not.

Sara Gon is a Policy Fellow at the Institute of Race Relations and editor of The Daily Friend.

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