More than 10 years ago the politics of the governing ANC changed dramatically when, frightened by the financial crisis unfolding across the Atlantic Ocean, it called for an increased role for government in the state. The governing party, through its control of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), would drive a developmental agenda.    

The report card on that period in our history is not kind on the state. The largest of its institutions, Eskom, is now sitting on a mountain of debt that will be impossible to pay off on current and future revenue projections. Our national airline, SAA, is in a rather complex business rescue process after years of mismanagement and corruption. These are just the headline-grabbing crises — large swathes of our more than 700 SOEs face similar issues. In driving its developmental agenda through these institutions, state ownership and, ultimately, control has failed. 

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