Two weeks ago SA’s richest man, Richemont chairman Johann Rupert, described the government’s agenda for radical economic transformation as "a code word for theft". It is regrettable that this scathing critique of the black-majority government came from a beneficiary of the largesse of the interventionist apartheid state. Rupert can thank what historian Dan O’Meara called "volkskapitalisme" for the stellar fortunes of his late father’s and his impressive empire. By means of volkskapitalisme, the racist Nationalist Party government leveraged state power and state assets such as state-owned banks to buoy Afrikaner businesses and turn them into the corporate behemoths of today. For him to now ring alarm bells at signs of state intervention in the economy in postapartheid SA is ironic. Rupert’s comments speak to a wider tendency by sectors of SA’s business community to ascribe all the modern ills facing the economy to chronic state "mismanagement", and not to stubborn and distorted patte...

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