Why has the South African state been captured? There are no doubt many causes, but about one in particular we have been much too silent: the failure of public policy during the first decade-and-a-half of democracy. The country the ANC inherited was deindustrialising. From the mid-1970s, SA had been haemorrhaging jobs and successive apartheid governments seemed unable or unwilling to staunch the flow. The most urgent and difficult task the ANC inherited was to reverse labour market decline. Whether an alternative set of policies would have performed any better is open to question, but the ANC’s project to halt deindustrialisation failed. Indeed, under its rule, the process only quickened. The light manufacturing industries that had once been propped up by state subsidies were thrown open to international competition and floundered. Agriculture, too, faced upheaval, partly because of rapid liberalisation, partly because its system of labour relations could not survive democracy. Havin...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now