President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address promised to act against “economic concentration” — a euphemism for “white monopoly capital”, the phrase beloved of many of his cronies and proxies. To this end, he promised to ramp up the Black Industrialists Programme, to open up the R7-trillion property sector to black players, and to lock in 30% black stakes for all large state contracts. As always with Zuma, these resolutions should be taken with a truckload of salt: the man rarely does anything with his power except dole out patronage. If anything, his adoption of the “white monopoly capital” narrative could rob it of its mass appeal. But this official policy turn towards “radical economic transformation” may be used to step up the Zuma cabal’s campaign against the obstacles to their dreams of industrial-scale kleptocracy — finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the banks, whom they cast as agents of a nebulous conspiracy of pale greed, founded on apartheid theft. The broad stroke...

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