Ghost in the machine
GARETH VAN ONSELEN: How the ANC invented radical economic transformation out of nothing
The phrase ‘radical economic transformation’ has sparked controversy in SA. But the term itself seems devoid of any specific meaning, acting instead as a catch-all for ‘ANC economic policy’
In his state of the nation address in February, President Jacob Zuma said: “Today we are starting a new chapter of radical economic transformation. “We are moving beyond words,” he declared. Yet words seem to be all that have followed. In the wake of his vague announcement, a mighty rhetorical battle has unfolded, as all and sundry have scrambled to understand what exactly radical economic transformation is, and what its potential implications are. The reason is simple enough: there is no definition. That is, there is no definition outside of the vague and general ANC economic policy framework. A search through ANC archives suggests radical economic transformation is nothing more than a description, an ad hoc phrase invented as shorthand for conventional party thought. But it has become government policy and, through obscurity and fear, it has taken on a life of its own. Actual radical economic transformation, as a coherent concept, does not exist — and it never has.Interestingly, t...