Zuma Watch

Zuptas the third force of neo-colonialism

Kwame Nkrumah turning in his grave?
Kwame Nkrumah.jpg

President Zuma and his Zupta network of state captures has effectively become a third force of neo-colonialist forces targeting the country.

This is the picture that emerges as details become public of how multinational corporations and international criminal operators have milked South Africa’s public purse for billions over the past few years.

Ironically, it is exactly what the forces of state capture have been accusing those who have been opposing them over the past number of years. And there is some poetic justice in the fact that the curtain has come down for the United Kingdom-based multinational giant spin-firm, Bell Pottinger, which advised them in this regard.

The state captures developments in and around South Africa come at a time when neo-colonialism has mutated into a force that to a more or lesser extent, even undermine the sovereignty of even developed states.

Development of neo-colonialism

Neo-colonialism is a multifaceted phenomenon with financial, cultural, social and developmental dimensions that developed especially in the aftermath of World War II.

It kicked off strongest on the cultural front and in an insightful article on the website Medium, published in 2014, Trevor Molag describes how since 1945 just about in every country on earth there has been claims about neo-colonialism mostly of the cultural kind – including Britain and the USA – which can be described Coca-‘Cocoloization’ of the word.

In especially Africa cultural neo-colonialism was also accompanied by material neo-colonialist exploitation of former colonies’ natural resources, by cheap labour via instruments like prescriptive capital investment and technological expertise.

However, for a number of decades now, in the slipstream of the development of the internet, cultural neo-colonialism spread its wings on the winds of Globalisation – think phenomenon like Google, Facebook and lately twitter.

But a new, more threatening strand of colonialism, what can be called financial colonialism, developed as the movement of money across international borders became literally ”just a click-away.”

And, as the recent Gupta New Age transaction proved, with the latest financial fad of crypto currencies, a new frontier in the battle against financial colonialization has just opened. Neo-colonialism is no more, by a long shot, a nation-to-nation issue. In fact, the greatest, mightiest and most formidable players are multinational corporations and those operating in their shadows.

As we reported in June, the Gupta family is old hands in the colonialization game, going back some generations in history. They know how to find third forces to do their bidding.

And, as the deluge of information from leaked Gupta electronic communications and Jacques Pauw’s book, “The President’s Keepers,” prove they find national leaders easy-as-pie targets to become their stooges or even willingly cooperative third-force collaborators within nations.

However, Molag also writes: “By providing monetary support and forming economic partnerships, the financial institutions, governments, and particularly the multinational corporations of the colonizing power ingratiate themselves to their subjects and integrate them into their own capitalist system.

“Subordinate societies/countries now not only become dependent on outside multinationals for jobs creation and the low wages and -prices for raw goods that come with it to deliver high profit for these corporations to the benefit of their home nation and its tax base.”

But as multinational corporations are concerned, this is where tax heavens like Dubai and Hong Kong – prominent in the Gupta revelations – enter the story line of neo-colonialism. 

It is in this environment that operators like the Gupta-family thrive, and to add insult to injury, the profits there is to be made in colonised economies like South Africa, are creamed off by the likes of Oakbays to tax heavens from where it can finance an attack on a new target.

Fight back

Some analysts point out that large multi- (or trans-national) companies are more powerful and wealthy than many states. They consider their own interests over those of the states in which they work.

They claim a rebellion against what is perceived as a privileging of large multinational corporations is building momentum as wealth inequality across the world is sharply rising, but the conflict between people and corporations is only part of what is happening.

As present actions by authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States is showing, developing countries are starting to realise that they and their tax basses are also victims of the latest mutation of neo-colonialism and its collaborators.

In this developing fight back, South Africa’s free media and organised civil society is playing an example setting a role to be proud of.

And who knows, some international arrest warrants for some of those South African collaborators might still follow.


The father of the term neo-colonialism is said to be the Ghanaian scholar and political leader Kwame Nkrumah. He argued that neo-colonialism was a tactic that followed directly on from traditional colonialism. After WWII, Imperial powers such as Britain, France and the Dutch found it practically impossible to maintain their holdings, so they began granting independence to their colonies, allowing them democratic sovereignty, but retaining control over key parts of their economy.  

Last week  BizNews’ Alec Hogg wrote: “You have to shake your head at the wide-eyed hypocrisy of companies like KPMG, McKinsey, SAP and now HSBC now that their facilitation of Gupta criminality is being exposed to the world.”

What have been revealed about the Zuma-administration by the leaked Gupta emails and in the Pauw book must have Nkrumah spinning in his grave. 

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by Piet Coetzer

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