ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says despite attempts to relabel white monopoly capital or to deny its existence it is a reality.
Magashule made the comments at the University of Witwatersrand on Wednesday evening, where he addressed students on "building a cadre in the current political context", ahead of student representative council elections set to take place over the next two days.
He spoke to students about how they got into university, giving credit to the role of liberation movements for this reality and laid out future tasks for the next generation, saying they were there to "agitate" and motivate students to vote for the progressive youth alliance.
The EFF at Wits university has taken a decision not to participate in the upcoming polls.
Magashule told students the EFF had no right to claim the concept of "economic freedom in our lifetime", saying it was their slogan after the older generation of the ANC led by the likes of South Africa's founding father, Nelson Mandela, was "political freedom in our lifetime".
He then focused his attention on the economy, which has been struggling to grow in South Africa and mostly remains in the hands of the minority.
"In America, the economy is owned by Americans, you can go to Malaysia, you can go to Singapore, China, Russia ... it's owned by the indigenous, only here in South Africa the economy is in the hands of the few," said Magashule.
"People don't want to talk about reality. The reality is the economy is in the hands of the few," he added, as students cheered and applauded.
Magashule argued that if white monopoly capital was redefined as monopoly capital, students would not fight against it with as much vigour.
"If you say monopoly capital you are not going to dismantle it."
He told the students they needed to understand they "came from the struggle", emphasising they did not come from nowhere.
Magashule recalled some of the ANC's wins and the long-term impact this had had on student housing, food provision and study material.
He claimed during the session that Africans remained a target of western imperialists, claiming the tension between South Africa and countries like Nigeria was to divide the nation.
"The big economies on the continent of Africa are South Africa and Nigeria, that's why people will say SA does not want people from other African countries. The intention is subtle, to isolate South Africa."
"We will be an island on our own and this country will never move forward, you will remain employees and never become owners of the economy," said Magashule.
"They want to reverse the gains of the economy."