Peter Bruce gets a history lesson from South Africa’s top economic historian, Prof Keith Breckenridge in this week’s episode of Podcasts from the Edge.

Trying to draw parallels between South Africa now, an economic wasteland coming out of a devastating pandemic, and South Africa a hundred years ago, an economic wasteland devastated by the deprivations of war and the Spanish flu, Bruce finds some unpleasant truths — World War 1 might have been followed in the US by the roaring twenties then but there was nothing roaring about the 1920’s here and the same is likely to apply now.

Back then we suffered crippling strikes and an overvalued currency that made it hard to export. At the same time, the outline of what was our industrial skeleton began to take shape.

The ANC is still trying to recapture some of that confidence but, as Breckenridge points out, the same opportunity the colonialists and Afrikaner nationalists missed in failing to give property rights to the poor, where they live, is being actively reproduced by the ANC now as it empowers tribal authority at the expense of the people.


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