African National Congress
White milk chocolate, armour-plated glass : 700 x 280 x 100 mm : 2010
Private collection


"Seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added onto you."

– Dr. Kwame Nkrumah


“With the advent of parliamentary democracy in 1994, South Africa’s real bourgeoisie, through the process of Black Economic Empowerment, created a new class from among the African National Congress (ANC) politicians. But it is a pseudo-bourgeoisie whose purpose is to act primarily as an interlocutor in the inner circles of the new political elite on behalf of the real bourgeoisie. Like the pseudo-states in sub-Saharan Africa, these pseudo-bourgeoisie are not a class of entrepreneurs. At best they are crony capitalists who are patronised by the economic oligarchy, just as Africa’s pseudo-states are patronised by Western powers through foreign aid.” [1]

“BEE and its subsidiaries – affirmative action and affirmative procurement – which started off as defensive instruments created by the economic oligarchs to protect their assets, have metamorphosed. They have become both the core ideology of the black political elite and, simultaneously, the driving material and enrichment agenda which is to be achieved by maximising the proceeds of reparations that accrue to the political elite. ...this has proved to be disastrous for the country.” [2]

“The value that the few people employed in mining produce far exceeds their income. Government, therefore, derives large revenues from mining activity, which it can redistribute to the rest of society, who do not work on the mines. In other words, it is possible for a large number of people in South Africa not to work but to live off state revenues redistributed from mining activities. The higher the price foreigners pay for our minerals, the larger the number of people who can be sustained by government social grants without working. This is what is called a resource curse; governments of resource-rich countries work on the assumption that their people need not work and will be happy to live off social grants. This is precisely the trap into which the ANC government has fallen. At least a quarter of the population receives social grants that would not be available if South Africa were not rich in minerals. Without mineral wealth to redistribute government would have to work harder and be more creative about finding solutions to unemployment and poverty. Resource wealth makes it possible for the government not to have to put an effort into redeveloping the economy to create more jobs.
But do social grants make people happy, as the ANC government expects? Evidently they do not. Ironically, while they contribute to putting some food on the table, at a broader level they make the recipients more insecure because they fear the government might withdraw or reduce the size of the grants.” [3]

“For the emerging new black elite the message should be clear. If South Africa is to develop in the twenty-first century and rid itself of endemic poverty and high unemployment the elite in this country cannot continue to enjoy the standards of living of the middle class of the West without the equivalent productivity. The ANC is caught in a quandary. On the one hand, its members and leaders want to preserve, largely intact, the economic system inherited from the National party era so they can benefit from it. On the other hand, they hanker for change that will ameliorate the growing inequalities and pauperisation among blacks.” [4]


[1] Mbeki, M.; Architects of Poverty; Picador Africa; Johannesburg; 2009; p. 157
[2] Ibid p. 69
[3] Ibid p. 86-87
[4] Ibid p. 92-93


Michael MacGarry



Michael MacGarry, contemporary African art, African art, contemporary art, Africa, sculpture