A self-made entrepreneur who started his business Black Like Me in the dark days of apartheid wants to free South Africans from poverty.  Herman Mashaba says he can no longer remain silent on the state of the South African economy.   In Capitalist Crusader  he outlines his quest for economic freedom for all South Africans―through a firm commitment to capitalist principles.  Herman Mashaba describes the changes in his political affiliations and maps out the route South Africa needs to follow to escape entrenched unemployment, poverty and inequality.

‘When I had to give up my university studies 35 years ago I was so angry that I wanted to leave South Africa, get military training and an AK47 and come back to kill evil white people … I’m just as angry now as I feel my economic freedom is under threat, but I’m staying to fight for what I believe in.’ 

Five core principles of economic freedom

  • The rule of law, including effective and consistent law enforcement, due process and natural justice.
  • Freedom of association, including the right to form, join or leave labour, business and other organisations.
  • Freedom of contract, including the right for associations and individuals to transact freely with each other;
  • Property rights, referring to owners’ dominion over their property.
  • Consent, meaning that nothing should be done to anyone or their property without their consent.

Further reading:

Response to Don Makatile’s review of Capitalist Crusader

Herman Mashaba responded to Don Makatile’s review of Capitalist Crusader  published by the Sunday Independent on 13 December 2015 as he felt it could not go unchallenged, especially since he ‘turned a book review into an attack on my politics and my right to voice my anti-ANC sentiments’.   It is pointed out that a reviewer usually reads an entire book but because Mr Makatile chose only to read the first few chapters before casting the book aside, ‘reveals that he chose not so much to review the book as to punch holes in my perspective and to discredit a voice that holds the ANC up to scrutiny’.   It is worth reading the full response quoted below.

The book was reviewed by Ntsakisi Maswanganyi on 30 October 2015: Capitalist Crusader in BDlive published by Business Day.

Excerpts from that review

Mashaba’s gravitas comes from his history, starting a business when almost everything was against a black man doing so.  He is, of course, well known for starting the successful hair care company Black Like Me from nothing.

Mashaba tackles several contentious issues, most notably that of the labour laws.  For instance, he to minimum wage legislation as a major deterrent to job creation.  Many business people who have had minimum wage levels imposed on them will agree.  The debate over a national minimum wage, and not just the ones determined at bargaining councils, continues and the outcome will be interesting to watch.

Mashaba contends that some labour laws are costing the economy jobs, because if employers, especially small businesses, cannot pay salaries in accordance with the law, they simply retrench.


Response to Don Makatile’s review of Capitalist Crusader published by the Sunday Independent on 13 December 2015

Don Makatile’s recently published review of Capitalist Crusader cannot go unchallenged, especially since he has turned a book review into an attack on my politics and my right to voice my anti-ANC sentiments.  Usually a reviewer reads an entire book so that their critique is wholly informed.  However, the fact that Mr Makatile chose only to read the first few chapters before casting the book aside, reveals that he chose not so much to review the book as to punch holes in my perspective and to discredit a voice that holds the ANC up to scrutiny. 

At the outset let me say, that Mr Makatile and I have very little in common politically, and it is our constitutional right to differ both in our opinions and in our right to express them. 

Over the past few years the ANC, under President Jacob Zuma, has come under a lot of criticism, and it would seem that instead of engaging with the criticism, diehard ANC supporters, such as Mr Makatile, are adopting the narrow response of “You’re with us or you’re against us, and if you’re against us, we’re going to tear you apart”.  According to these emotionally immature and narrow visioned supporters, if their black compatriots don’t support the ANC’s racism then we’re not black, we’re white sympathisers, upholders of a white man’s agenda.  This is a wholesale insult to blacks who have thoughts and beliefs that are independent and untainted by aggressive ANC rhetoric.  The ANC has been wholly responsible for their anti-constitutional agenda of seeking to divide South Africa along racial lines, and they use their henchmen at every opportunity to reinforce racial disparity.  At every turn they’re pigeon-holing criticism into black and white, and debasing any black citizen who has the gall to disagree with their racial policies. 

Undoubtedly, the 1913 Natives Land Act shaped black lives.  Land ownership in South Africa is historically and currently an emotive issue.  I don’t ignore it, I highlighted what will happen if the ANC (and the EFF’s) land agenda is ever realised because it is current and dangerous.  Indeed, if we give the 1913 Land Act and its repercussions in contemporary life in South Africa the due consideration that Mr Makatile demands, it is the ANC who continues to entrench tenets of this Act, not the capitalists that the socialist ANC would have us believe.  I find Mr Makatile’s silence on the ANC’s contribution to this issue disturbing. 

If the ANC were really serious about addressing the injustice of the Act they would not have maintained the unilateral powers of the tribal chiefs (some of them appointed during Apartheid), they would not have entrenched the tribal boundaries that the Apartheid regime configured during their establishment of the homelands, and they most certainly would not have claimed, as ANC Justice Minister Michael Masutha did in May this year that the substantially revised Traditional Courts Bill would be tabled in Parliament.  This significantly controversial bill creates a justice system that is parallel to the country’s justice system, and particularly in terms of vulnerable women’s rights in rural areas takes us back to the Dark Ages. 

Among others, the 2003 Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, the National Traditional Affairs Bill, and the 2004 Communal Land Rights Act entrench the powers of chiefs, allowing them to commit abuses.  Such abuse includes banning community meetings that aren’t initiated by the chiefs, and the same chiefs refusing to supply proof of address letters to those (usually desperately poor) people who cannot afford to pay the annual tribal levies, letters that are essential for children to apply for identity documents or for the elderly to apply for pensions. 

The Department of Rural Development has withheld the title deeds to land in cases where rural communities have won land restitution claims, due to pressure from traditional leaders who wish to retain control of the land. 

The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill reopened the restitution process but the Bill is still problematic.  It states that if the transfer of land is too expensive, it may not happen.  Additionally, it makes the transfer conditional on whether or not the land will be used productively, and while it is noble in the sense that one doesn’t wish to take productive land and render it less productive or unproductive, how does one begin define productivity?

It would appear that the government’s thinking in the Communal Land Rights Act seems to suggest that communal land belongs to traditional leaders, and the government are not taking into account how customary law informs land rights.  If we take rural women, for example, they are entitled to their constitutional rights, but yet have to live in a traditionally patriarchal society where their rights are diminished in terms of customary laws.  In the same way that the NP enacted laws to control land, so too are the ANC manipulating land issues at the expense of the poor. 

However, to return to land expropriation, which Mr Makatile conveniently ignores, land expropriation will significantly damage the country’s economy, and even if he and his ANC cohorts wish to ignore it, the poor will be the biggest casualties.  Mismanagement of land will add to the already untenably high unemployment rate of 35%. 

Mismanagement of our resources has resulted in rampant corruption that is destroying the fabric of our society, a dysfunctional public education system that renders our nation unemployable, a public slavery system promoted by the government’s social grant system that has 16 million people dependent upon it, crony capitalism throughout our government, and the breakdown of black family structures.  As a resource, South Africa’s agricultural land is largely able to feed our people, and if that resource is either mismanaged, or production is disturbed, then we begin to rely ever increasingly on importation.  This affects the sovereignty of the state, impact hugely on poor people, who will find their food costs rising substantially, since international currency markets will largely dictate food prices.  As we have seen with what can happen with the Rand, a hypothetical 30-40% increase in food costs to the poor within a year will have this country reeling and in flames.  Yet again, nobody actually cares about the poor. 

Mr Makatile’s assertion based on ANC rhetoric that slave wages denies and robs our people of an opportunity to find work is not based on sound economic research.  Contrary to his belief that the ANC are the only political party qualified to make decisions on behalf of the poor and the uneducated, non-ANC citizens, groups, and political parties have sound proposals for improving employment.  That the ANC and its members don’t want to hear it is disturbing.  The destruction of small business, in particular black small business, by certain aspects of our labour laws, is responsible for the high unemployment we are experiencing today.  Whether they are educated or not, people gain the necessary experience by working.  Working allows them to climb up the employment ladder.  The ANC government continues to deny these business people an opportunity to be independent citizens of the country.  The leadership benefits from people’s reliance of government. 

Makatile’s version that change must be brought about by destruction and racial polarisation of society is very dangerous for the future of our country.  Civil society must take full responsibility to effect change, but it must be done through the ballot box.  The ANC government has dismally failed our people, and they must be voted out.  As articulated in Capitalist Crusader, the DA is the only viable party that can unite our nation, provide an environment that will get the economy to prosper, and give dignity to all South African citizens. 

Herman Mashaba Author of Capitalist Crusader