South African Apartheid era ‘McDonalds’ ripoff, Mac Munch (c. 1980, probably
Cape Town Blackheath, Johannesburg). I was taken to one of the country’s first McDonalds, soon after Apartheid ended. I had never seen such wide straws. Possibly McDonalds decided to not enter the Apartheid market for moral reasons, or a more cynical guess is that it wouldn’t have been profitable enough, what with all those economic sanctions fueling inflation. American and Japanese brands ‘stuck it out’ during the bad years, and now enjoy prominent positions in South African households. Japanese cars are preferred to those of any other nation.
Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a leading anti-Apartheid activist and trade-unionist, bought control of the entire McDonalds operation in South Africa. He is one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is on the board of directors of Lonmin, the British mining corporation whose striking miners were fired upon with live ammunition by a special task force police squad who tried, with disastrous results, to herd the 3000 strikers with barb wire and tear-gas. 34 miners were killed. Strikers report that during the operation, which was preceded by police spokesperson Dennis Adriao declaring that ‘today is unfortunately d-day’, police sought out and murdered strike leaders. Lonmin’s email record reveals that Ramapohosa, days before police massacred the ‘illegal’ strikers*, used his connections as an ANC heavyweight to intervene on behalf of the company to personally ask Safety and Securty Minister Nathi Mthethwa to crack down on the strike action. Ramaphosa, who stepped away from active politics more than a decade ago, to cash in on the handing over of parts of one of the most brutally exploitative economies in the world to ANC connected businessmen, returned with a bang after his role in the massacre came to light. He is now the Vice President to be.
Nelson Mandela’s grandson was charged, along with President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, with stealing the wages of the miners of a mining company (Aurora Empowerment Systems) that they acquired in a politically-murky Black Economic Empowerment deal. The miners spent more than a year squatting their dorms, waiting for their wages, while surviving on food handouts from Islamic Charity, Gift of the Givers.
Mandela Zuma managed to avoid appearing in court because of health issues. His health issues were that he is obese. The isiXhosa word for a rich person is the same as for a fat person, isityebi (or umtyebi).
Many South Africans will remember ‘Bad Brad’ for his controversial role in South Africa’s first ‘reality tv’ series, Big Brother South Africa (he got drunk and poo-ed in the garden), probably far less will remember him for being hired by Aurora to provide security for their unused mines as they tried to wrap up their asset-stripping and wage-theft. During this time he (along with four others) was charged with murdering four illegal miners who were using Aurora’s Grootvlei mine. He was found ‘not guilty’ on the basis that he was acting in self-defence.
Lonmin, when it was still Lonrho, has a history of Southern African sanctions-busting, especially under directorship of Tiny Rowland, who along with his company, was describe as the ‘unpleasant and unacceptable face of capitalism’ by the British Prime Minister in 1973. Despite this he was awarded a medal of The Order of the Cape of Good Hope by Nelson Mandela. Other award recipients include genocidal Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and US-funded Egyptian military dictator of three decades, Hosni Mubarak. The order was discontinued in 2002.
* There is no such thing as an ‘illegal strike’ in modern day South Africa. The term is a left-over from Apartheid when there was such a thing. This did not stop countless mainstream newspapers, political commentators and tweeters from declaring these strikers to be illegal. The strike was, however, unprotected, which meant that the strikers were going outside of the channels of industrial action endorsed by the ANC aligned, COSATU union NUMSA (Ramaphosa’s ex-union), whose Marikana representatives are paid a R14000 per month bonus by Lonmin. These representatives fired on striking miners who marched to their Marikana offices, days before the miners were fired on by the police.