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South Africa: From #FeesMustFall to Budget Battles

AfricaFocus Bulletin
September 7, 2016 (160907)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"The most inspiring and surprising social movement to shake the South African state since the Treatment Action Campaign of the early 2000s was #FeesMustFall in October 2015. The primary demand -- free tertiary education -- is audacious." But, argues South Africa academic and commentator Patrick Bond in a newly published chapter, achieving that goal requires confronting the ideology of austerity and the dominance of corporate capital as well as corrupt public officials on the South African government budget.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin, not sent out by email but available on the web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/sa1609b.php) contains selected excerpts from that chapter, republished with the author's permission.

The full chapter is available on-line at https://patrickbondwits.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/bond-chapter-on-feesmustfall-mid-2016/

Sources on the broader context of today's political and economic debates in today's post "post-apartheid" South Africa are the focus of another AfricaFocus Bulletin released today, sent out by email and available on the web at http://www.africafocus.org/docs16/sa1609a.php

See particularly "South Africa in the 21st Century in Video: A Youtube Playlist," available at http://tinyurl.com/hqpr255

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on South Africa, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/southafrica.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

To Win Free Education, Fossilised Neoliberalism Must Fall

Patrick Bond, in S.Booysen, D.Motsepe, D.Everatt and P.Pillay (Eds), in The #FeesMustFall Student Revolt: Challenging and Changing Governance in South Africa
Johannesburg, Wits University Press, 2016

[excerpted here with permission of the author]

Introduction

The most inspiring and surprising social movement to shake the South African state since the Treatment Action Campaign of the early 2000s was #FeesMustFall in October 2015. The primary demand -- free tertiary education -- is audacious. There are various cost estimates, depending upon demand-related assumptions or simply the prevailing political agenda: a spokesperson of South African Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande (who was at the time opposed) estimated R100 billion/year, although the 2013 figure from the same office was just R23 billion (i.e. R27 billion in 2016 inflationadjusted rand) (Petersen, 2015). But even the centre-right Democratic Alliance estimated in late 2015 that free (albeit meanstested) tertiary education would cost R35 billion per annum (Bozzoli, 2015). The students' secondary, immediate demands were that there should be a 0% fee increase in 2016 (effectively a 7%+ decrease in fees given rising inflation) and that all university staff should be paid properly and 'insourced.' The early 2000s' outsourcing of low-paid cleaning, security, gardening and similar staff at most institutions was repeatedly contested before 2015, but never successfully.

As argued below, these tens of billions of rands that should be considered for investment in the students' future compare favourably with hundreds of billions allocated by state agencies to megaprojects that are largely fossil-intensive (especially based upon coal and oil). The resulting climate change will irrevocably harm the current student generation's future. But will the students come to this realisation, and will it lead to creative political strategies that link issues and constituencies with just as radical a potential as was witnessed in 2015?

...

In this context of debate over which corporations have succeeded in 'state capture,' the students' partially-successful battle for greater funding from Treasury deserves full attention. In the next section we review the student forces arrayed against fiscal austerity and university fee increases in 2015, and disputes over whether the South African state is making a sufficient contribution to cover the cost of higher education. These critiques of state spending highlight aspects of state subsidies that harm the next generation insofar as they contribute to climate change, which will damage the current youth's futures, as shown in section 3. Then, drawing on the 2016 budget, we can identify other constituencies currently suffering austerity, in section 4. Finally, in section 5, it is useful to ask (no matter if it is purely hypothetical), whether there is a scenario in which these forces unite to demand a different fiscal regime.

...

In short, we will conclude, if the strong momentum gathered in October 2015 was quickly destroyed by a variety of political dilemmas, some of which were internal to the student movement, but some also external, at least one of the ways forward is for students and their civil society allies to better interrogate the power of financiers, mining houses and smelters -- which are the beneficiaries of the budget at the expense of the students' present and future interests.

Arguments for fiscal investments in the youth

The focus on the fiscus is terribly important (in part because it is so rare), and this was recognised by several thousand students who began national-scale #FeesMustFall advocacy on 21 October 2015 when they stormed the parliamentary precinct in Cape Town. It was the day of the budgetary mid-term review. Prior to Gordhan, the 2014-15 finance minister was Nhlanhla Nene, whose response that day -- formally articulated in his Budget Speech -- was that student protests were 'unconstructive.' The word was perhaps chosen by the Treasury's neoliberal speechwriters; it scornfully reveals a vast distance between those championing the austerity logic in Treasury on the one hand, and on the other, the logic of the society's ascendant leadership at the elite universities, as well as the logic of the 63% of society judged by UCT economists to be living below the poverty line (Budlender et al., 2015).

As Reuters (2015) news agency tellingly reported, Nene "downplayed the effect of university students storming parliament as he delivered his medium term budget on the credit rating of Africa's most advanced economy. 'What matters for the ratings agencies is our response as government in addressing these challenges,' he said about the students' demands to keep tuition fees unchanged." The response taken by government's security officials against the students that afternoon was described by many journalists as police brutality. Nzimande (besuited) told the students from behind a protective fence that they should accept a 6% increase as a victory. They booed him, and he later joked, "If these students don't accept this, we will start our own movement, students must fall" (and after intense criticism, he subsequently apologised). Also revealing 'what matters', in February 2015 Nene had relaxed exchange controls, allowing wealthy individuals to take R10 million out of the country each year, up from R4 million, while at the same time cutting grants to poor people by 3% in real terms (Bond, 2015a).

Having made an exceptionally powerful statement, different groups of students then marched in their thousands to the Johannesburg and Durban headquarters of the ANC on October 22 and 23, and finally demonstrated -- more than ten thousand strong -- at Zuma's Pretoria office on October 23. There, restraining fences were torn down by some of the activists. Tyres and latrines were burned, and police once again responded with stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons. Refusing to come out to address the crowd, Zuma instead held a press conference where he conceded to the students' demand for a 0% fee increase in 2016 following several universities' attempt to raise prices into double digits. (It was Wits' 10.5% increase that on 4 October 2015 spurred the original national awareness of the crisis, although at UKZN two weeks earlier, the burning of the administration building was already an indication of extreme opposition to higher 2016 fees.)

...

Africans account for 79% of the population in the country, yet their gross participation rate in higher education is less than 15%. The low participation rate of the majority of South Africans is untenable -- both from a social justice perspective and in terms of meeting the demands of the 21st century and the needs of our economy. Higher levels of funding and the expansion of the capacity of the higher education system will be needed in future to ensure that higher levels of participation of African and coloured students are achieved.

A statement released simultaneously by the Democratic Alliance's Belinda Bozzoli (2015) concurred:

[the Ministerial Committee] found that South Africa's budget for universities as a percentage of GDP was only 0.75%, which is lower than the Africa-wide proportion of 0.78%, the world-wide proportion of 0.84% and the proportion spent by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries of 1.21%. The report also noted that between 2000 and 2010, state funding per full-time equivalent student fell by 1.1% annually in real terms, while fees per each of these students increased by 2.5% annually in the same period… While President Zuma announced that a Task Team will be established to find short term solutions to student funding challenges, this Task Team will be set up to fail if it does not include representation from Treasury. More needs to be done, urgently.

The penultimate sentence is vital because even the centre-right DA -- usually very supportive of the government's neoliberal bloc -- alleges that the National Treasury has been hiding during this ferocious debate. Behind the fiscal conservatism of Treasury (in Pretoria) are the men they report to in the biggest financial institutions and credit rating agencies (mostly in Sandton). But those men have experienced an exceptionally profitable period, and their ability to disguise profits through misinvoicing and related tax-avoidance techniques is well understood, though it continues apparently unabated. The students were making demands upon the state at a time the economy was slowing and fiscal revenues -- especially from corporate taxation -- were declining. But this is certainly one area where the broader class struggle could be pursued in future, with students joining many other constituencies to demand higher and more rigorous taxation, tightened exchange controls, and more courageous economic regulation of transnational and local corporations.

Arguments for not investing against the youth

Until most of the mining and smelting corporations were nearly destroyed by the 2011-15 commodity price crash, large firms operating in South Africa enjoyed what the International Monetary Fund (2013) recorded as amongst the world's highest profit rates. By many accounts, this was not honestly-acquired wealth, for according to surveys by PricewaterhouseCoopers (2016) in 2014 (Hosken 2014) and 2016, Sandton elites remain intent on committing economic corruption at the world's fastest rate. In December 2015, the Washington NGO Global Financial Integrity (2015) recorded an average $21 billion in annual Illicit Financial Flows from South Africa from 2004-13, and in March 2016, the leaked 'Panama Papers' began to unravel some revealing relationships between South Africans and tax havens (albeit the tip of the iceberg).

Several specific firms had been earlier named by activists and researchers as being guilty of invoice manipulations ('transfer pricing') and other tax avoidance strategies: MTN and Lonmin (both of which were led -- as board chair and main minority investor, respectively -- during the offshoring period by Ramaphosa), the other two major platinum firms (Implats and Amplats) (AIDC, 2014) and De Beers (Bracking and Sharife, 2014). The corporations do not pay a particularly high primary tax rate -- 28% -- compared to the 48% they paid during the last decade of apartheid, when exchange controls were the main way the state ensured capital stayed within the country. After 1994, deregulation of exchange controls occurred on more than three dozen occasions, a situation that could easily be reversed in line with international trends. For The Economist (2013) magazine proclaimed a newly 'Gated Globe' because of resurgent capital controls imposed by many countries following the 2008 turbulence, notably including China in mid-2015 and early 2016 as its stock market lost trillions of dollars in notional values.

Moreover, Treasury also funds many incentive schemes for corporations' benefit, and these are utilised but without many obvious backward or forward linkages into the economy (such as cheap electricity to BHP Billiton/South32 and Anglo American Corporation, auto industry subsidies and the steel industry's increased tariff protection). Were it not for state and parastatal infrastructure spending, the levels of gross fixed capital formation would be at record lows. Yet at the time students were protesting for more resources, South African corporations had acknowledged reserves of R700 billion in what was essentially idle cash, suggesting that the profit motive for the 'real economy' had become far too low, compared to what corporate treasurers can earn by parking their cash in speculative investments, e.g. in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (which hit a record 55 000 index level in October 2015) and real estate (which outstrips nearly all world markets). There was certainly no shortage of savings in South Africa's economy, given how rapidly the stock market's and property's value had grown as a result of speculative financial bubbles, at a time investment in the real economy withered.

To illustrate further, as a clear signal to students about where Treasury's priorities lay, amongst the most generously subsidised projects are those in the state's Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) programme that promote, first, exceptionally destructive coal exports via Richards Bay, mainly by multinational corporations; second, the Durban port-petrochemical complex's expansion; and third, iron-ore exports. Yet there is vast world over-capacity in coal, shipping and steel, leaving South Africa's second major steel producer in bankruptcy (Evraz Highveld) and the largest (Arcelor Mittal) sharply cutting back on its main foundries' output. But these White Elephant mega-projects continue to get the lion's share of state, parastatal and private infrastructure funding.

...

To illustrate, Gordhan's Budget Speech noted that "Transport and logistics infrastructure accounts for nearly R292 billion over the next three years under Minister Peters' oversight. Transnet is acquiring 232 diesel locomotives for its general freight business and 100 locomotives for its coal lines." ... But even the industry's leading insider expert, Xavier Prevost, admits coal exports had become a money loser by 2015 (Creamer's Engineering News, 2015). ...

The second highest-priority PICC mega-project will also cost hundreds of billions of rands: the South Durban Dig Out Port (on the old Durban airport site). This project aims to increase annual shipping-container traffic from levels of 2.5 million (stagnant from 2010-16) to a new capacity of 20 million by 2040, according to the National Development Plan (other experts suggest 12 million is more reasonable). The project will also double oil refining capacity in South Durban (a residential area already saturated with toxins), with the new Transnet oil pipeline from Durban to Johannesburg originally estimated to cost R6 billion having been redirected from white to black neighbourhoods by then CEO Maria Ramos, ultimately costing R24 billion by the time it is complete in late 2016. Once again, the port expansion is being subsidised generously with taxpayer funds, yet the Baltic Dry Index -- the main measurement of shipping demand and pricing -- is at an all-time historic low, having peaked at above 12 500 in 2008 and fallen to below 300 by early 2016. Either the South Durban investments will become yet another of Durban's white elephant projects (e.g. the airport, Dube Trade Port, Moses Mabhida Stadium and Point redevelopment), or if it is miraculously successful in raising the level of traffic by millions of containers in the coming quarter century, the project's success will have the effect of deindustrialising many South African manufacturing zones adversely affected by the import wave.

In these two specific instances, the vast subsidies that Treasury and Transnet will provide to the corporate sector do not contribute to the present younger generation's prosperity and environmental conditions. On the contrary, they are much more likely to harm their prospects, through climate change and through fewer labour-intensive manufacturing job opportunities. The student movement should easily be able to raise these as fiscal concerns, and they should resonate with the broader society. After all, in the Pew Research polls of South African public opinion, two issues have consistently ranked as the highest in the recordings of the society's concerns about the world: climate change and international economic volatility (Carle, 2015). South Africans are justifiably concerned about carbonintensive economies -- of which theirs is amongst the world's worst -- and about local vulnerability to the kinds of global economic swings that reduce commodity prices and the value of firms operating in South Africa by such extreme amounts. ...

These extremely desperate, carbon-intensive big businesses -- especially the group Ben Fine and Zav Rustomjee (1996) termed the Minerals-Energy Complex (i.e. not just the Gupta family but the much bigger set of mining houses operating in South Africa) remain extremely powerful when it comes to subsidy allocations. For example, the world's largest mining house, BHP Billiton ('South32', formerly South Africa's Gencor prior to 1990s mergers), still gets electricity at 1/10th the price of ordinary consumers, and at peak, consumes 5% of the grid's output. When the Energy Intensive Users Group of mining houses and smelters (responsible for 44% of consumption) needed an increase in electricity supply, Eskom turned to privatised electricity producers for renewable energy instead of using its own resources. And in spite of their reported opposition to a nuclear deal apparently struck by Zuma in Moscow in 2014, both Nene (2015) and Gordhan (2016) made a R200 million downpayment on what are likely to be Moscow-sourced Rosatom reactors that could easily cost in excess of $100 billion, as well as the first funding tranche for another pro-corporate investment, the BRICS New Development Bank, whose target capitalisation (spread among five countries) is $100 billion. One BRICS Bank director, Tito Mboweni, is on record that the nuclear deal "falls squarely within the mandate of the NDB" (Bloomberg, 2015).

In short, the students could readily have demanded -- and still can -- that the state and parastatal budgets be restructured to reflect:

  • the students' educational needs as a younger generation preparing for employment, so that the state's human capital investment will be valued in a skills-scarce national economy;
  • the collapse of the prices of many exported raw materials, which should, in turn, be reflected in a redesigned National Development Plan, PICC and Transnet infrastructure investments (the largest items mentioned in Gordhan's February 2016 Budget Speech; Bond, 2016); and
  • the danger that if such investments continue to be made, the MEC will grow stronger and the country's contribution to climate change will also rise beyond the 34% cut in emissions (below 'growth without constraints') during the 2020s that was repeatedly promised by Pretoria negotiators at the United Nations climate summits, which in turn will endanger the country's future as other countries also fail to honour their commitments (Bond, 2012).

Uniting with other constituencies peering over the fiscal cliff

Students opposed to the low level of university funding and the simultaneous use of taxpayer funds on projects such as carbonintensive infrastructure can at least make common cause with numerous social forces which are also firmly opposed to the austerity trend. These include those community activists and patients of the public health system who have been witnessing the degeneration of fiscal support in their sectors: municipal finance, housing, water and health care.

Again, consider the context, this time bottom up. The #FeesMustFall movement's first short-term victory comes at a time that the ANC is confronting unprecedented economic pressure and social unrest. The GDP growth rate fell from just 1.5% in 2015 to an estimated 0.4% in 2016, at a time of a 1.3% population growth rate and no hope of an upturn in the foreseeable future. South Africa is the most incomeunequal of any major country, and 'tokenistic' grant payments (e.g. R350/month for most beneficiaries, who are children), 'Free Basic Services' and an unfunded National Health Insurance make little or no difference, and sometimes (as in water provision) have had the opposite effect because of Pretoria's social policy neoliberalism (Bond 2014a).

The rise in social grant payments offered by Nene and Gordhan was consistently far below an inflation rate that by 2016 was anticipated in double digits for poor people, given much higher food, electricity and transport costs than affect wealthier South Africans. Anger has risen across the sub-altern spectrum, and in September 2015, the World Economic Forum (2015) judged the South African working class as the most militant on earth -- the same position amongst 140 countries held since 2012, when 34 mineworkers were massacred at Marikana -- not long after the South African Police Service had reported that in 2014, nearly 2300 protests turned "violent" (in police terminology) (Africa News Agency, 2015).

...

But there are important reasons for caution. The rough class structure of black 'African' society usually is expressed in terms of a small but rising (and debt-encumbered) lower middle-class, the working-class and the huge unemployed and low-income majority (again, with a 63% poverty rate). The students generally come from the first generation of university attendees, and it is no insult to posit that they aspire to move from the working class to the middle class, or in the case of students at the technical universities, to acquire stronger artisanal skills. Their ability to view the ceilings they face and contest various aspects of the university education they receive, is reminiscent of the great massification of universities in Europe and North America during the 1960s, when many of the radical leaders were from first-generation, working-class backgrounds. That they reject the implicit promise of ANC rule, i.e. that they will have a guaranteed career and be black empowerment beneficiaries, is important in material and ideological terms. Their recognition that a university degree is certainly not a guarantee of employment, and their ideological antipathy to nationalist, populist politicians, together give these students the same kind of potential for national leadership that the 1950s ANC Youth League soon attained, breaking through ossified leaderships who fail to spell out the struggle in terms that the wider society is ready to listen to. That they take up 'decolonisation', raise 'the Land Question' and demand redistribution to address the entirety of persistently racist, sexist social relations also reflects this maturity.

However the danger remains that once the heat of battle subsides the students will retreat to a relatively class-privileged position instead of pursuing this historic challenge of economic justice. Geographically, one of the main divide-and-conquer strategies adopted by the apartheid regime and big business for about a decade starting in the mid-1980s onwards, was to spatially segment the housing market and encumber the higher echelons of the black working class with debt (Bond, 2000, 2014a). The impact, today, is that many townships and shack settlements are no longer home to the higherpaid shopstewards and other experienced labour leaders who, in the 1980s, had been both worker and community activists, conjoining their union leadership with their roles in the SA National Civic Organisation. It was not atypical for the civic and trade union officials to wear two hats, and to turn their geographic segregation to advantage. The spatial compression of class, until the Group Areas Act was overturned in 1991, in turn allowed the progressive activists much more coherence in their anti-apartheid protests. Demands for access to water and sanitation, electricity, housing and transport regularly featured as combined worker-community protest rationales.

The political genius of neoliberalism lies, in part, in its fragmentation of opposition. The most important barrier to making generalised community demands against the Treasury since the mid-1990s has been the 'popcorn' character of protests: they are segregated, atomised, ideology-free and very rarely link up even with neighbouring activism. Indeed, many turn explicitly xenophobic when instead of a municipal target, immigrant shop-owners so often become the subject of community anger. Emanating from thousands of violent protests, especially since the late 1990s when urban neoliberalism took on its main features (Bond, 2002), there have been sporadic but nearly entirely unsuccessful attempts at organising up-scale. To, illustrate, recall the metropolitan Gauteng anti-neoliberal coalition known as the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). It was founded in 2000 after the University of the Witwatersrand Urban Futures conference, in part by radical students who -- like Prishani Naidoo and Ahmed Veriava -- were by 2015 lecturers involved in #FeesMustFall. But notwithstanding exceptional victories in specific sites -- including Johannesburg metropolitanscale service delivery policy -- the APF had become moribund by 2012, in part due to organisational failure (McKinley, 2012).

The failure of communities to unify across space and social movements to unify across sector, added to the rise of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) as an independent radical force after denouncing the ANC Alliance in late 2013, led to formation of the United Front in 2014. By 2016, however, the Front had failed to find its footing notwithstanding (largely paper) membership of 400 radical social change organisations. ... . The other dilemma for students was that they had multiple political tendencies, and the Numsa/Front was just one of various competing projects -- e.g. the Progressive Youth Alliance (with its SA Communist Party and ANC Youth League dominance), the Economic Freedom Fighters and PanAfricanist youth were much more visible ideologues. The splits in the student movement that resulted from competing tendencies have been partially documented, but the overall question remains: do students have the potential to again, cross class boundaries by uniting with low-paid workers; take physical space as semi-liberated sites to build that unity; and generate a national movement that takes on national targets, such as Treasury.

...

In this context of austerity, an oppositional programme could rise, taking on Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank, and also the ratings agencies and financiers who apply such pressure, based on three arguments:

  1. the SA state has the ability to raise sufficient funding to meet social needs;
  2. the social spending component of the fiscus has been far too low; and
  3. interest rates should be decreased, which would allow for more state borrowing (although exchange controls would need to be reimposed to curtail capital flight) and also reduce South Africans' extreme debt load, including that of recent graduates whose repayment rates are miserable.

...

However, if students and their allies in civil society advance the arguments made above, they will face both intellectual and policy resistance. First, there is the fatuous SA Reserve Bank (2015) claim that SA has an insufficiently low savings rate, which allegedly justifies high interest rates. Yet as noted above, there is plenty of loose savings available in South Africa, as witnessed by how much money sloshes around in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and in real estate, which in both cases are at the very top range of the world's most speculative markets, respectively (Bond, 2014a).The amount corporations hold in cash is said to approach R1 trillion, as they lack profitable investment outlets. Savings shortages are not a factor, in sum.

Neoliberals do have one valid rebuttal to the arguments above: if interest rates are lowered and social spending and state borrowing raised, there will be even worse capital flight. This is indeed a very serious problem, in terms of both illicit financial flows and licit, legal outflows of profits, dividends and interest (the 'balance of payments' within the current account). To pay these flows in hard currency, the Reserve Bank must borrow abroad, resulting in South Africa's total foreign debt rising from $25 billion in 1994 to $140 billion by 2015 (the same share of GDP as PW Botha faced in 1985 when he defaulted), as distinguished from public domestic debt which is still manageable and can grow. In addition to illicit financial flows from South Africa (R330 billion annually from 2004-13), the licit outflows of profits, dividends and interest in 2015 exceeded R140 billion. (In comparison, the trade deficit was only R34 billion.)

The solution to these pressures is simple: re-imposition of exchange controls. This will be especially important in late 2016 when formal 'junk bond' status is likely to be imposed by the credit ratings agencies. Such capital controls worked in the period 1985-95 when the 'finrand,' helped to not only stop capital flight at a time the apartheid state was a victim of successful solidaristic protest in mid-1985 (when PW Botha's 'Rubicon Speech' meant activists could further delegitimise South Africa). They are also a vital tool for national economic sovereignty in a world beset by extreme financial turbulence. As John Maynard Keynes (1933) once explained, "In my view the whole management of the domestic economy depends upon being free to have the appropriate interest rate without reference to the rates prevailing in the rest of the world. Capital controls is a corollary to this."

...

Conclusion

The essence of politics in South Africa is alliance building, and students who mobilised for a 0% fees increase in 2016 plus insourcing of outsourced workers did a remarkable job in their initial efforts to move across class, to move across space and to move cross scale. Much of the obvious political challenge to power in the 2015-16 protests related to race, decolonisation and restructuring of university power. A few nominal changes were made, and major demands are still outstanding in relation to curriculum reform, shifting the race and gender make-up of the professoriate, and ending the alienation of black, female and LGBTI students.

However, this chapter has merely addressed the most serious outstanding challenge: achieving free tertiary education by identifying processes associated with the students' adverse class power, financial institutions' 'state capture', fiscal options (including the generationally-vital opportunity costs and benefits of defunding fossil-fuel mega-projects in favour of human capital investment), and the politics therein. This review of the political economy of the students' major demand has concluded that to win free education, worker insourcing, and genuinely decolonised universities, the students will inexorably demand that #NeoliberalismMustFall and that #FossilFuelsMustFall. ...

It is true, Naomi Klein (2014) argues, that 'This [climate] changes everything.' Recall, finally, the October 2015 mobilisation of social support across South Africa that contributed to the exceptional pressure mounted against the Zuma government -- more than the countervailing pressure of neoliberals in Treasury and the ratings agencies, at least for R2.3 billion's sake. If the argument above is sound, there is every potential for students and their community, youth, labour, feminist and environmental allies to find routes forward to a new society, by building on society's legitimate grievances and demanding the ecological and socio-economic benefits that would follow an end to both the influence of the neoliberal bloc represented by Gordhan, and the populist patronage of Zuma's last allies. As that battle continues to unfold -- as it will for years to come -- an intensified progressive alternative stands ready to claim, and to win.

...


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