Since the beginning of the lockdown phase of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly stated that SA needs to build a new, inclusive economy after the crisis. On April 21, for example, he said: “We are resolved not merely to return our economy to where it was before the coronavirus but to forge a new economy ... our economic strategy going forward will require a new social compact among all role players — business, labour, community and government — to restructure the economy”. 

These are bold words, but it is not clear what they mean in practice. Is Ramaphosa suggesting the wholesale reorganisation and reimagining of the economy and society as suggested by advocates of so-called “wellbeing economies” or “doughnut economies”, or is he talking about merely shuffling the chairs a little and diffidently regulating the rapaciousness of the “market” with a little more timid welfarism?..

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