Season of Hope: Economic Reform under Mandela and Mbeki

Season of Hope: Economic Reform under Mandela and Mbeki

Season of Hope: Economic Reform under Mandela and Mbeki

Season of Hope: Economic Reform under Mandela and Mbeki

Synopsis

When the African National Congress won the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa was one of the most unequal societies in the world. How could an organization with no previous experience of governing and little history of economic policy development accomplish both a peaceful transition to democracy and set South Africa on a path toward sustained economic growth and development?

This book is an insider’s account of the way in which the ANC government addressed the enormous economic task it faced upon taking office and spans the presidency of Nelson Mandela and the first term of President Thabo Mbeki. The book analyzes the economic legacy of apartheid and the evolution of the ANC’s economic policy. It examines the pressing imperatives of globalization and trade and industrial policy, the labour market, black economic empowerment, the “two economies,” and measures to address poverty and inequality amongst South Africans. Season of Hope is an invaluable contribution to the literature of economies in transition.

Excerpt

When the African National Congress (ANC) came to power after South Africa’s first democratic elections in April 1994, it faced daunting economic challenges: severe poverty and inequality, and economic stagnation. To fulfil its mandate to the electorate, nearly two-thirds of whom voted for the ANC, the new government had to redistribute wealth and incomes between privileged whites and deprived blacks (the latter group divided according to apartheid convention into ‘coloureds’, ‘Indians’ or ‘Asians’, and ‘Africans’). But the economy was in decline, having virtually stagnated in real terms for a decade, with falling per capita incomes. Was there any point in redistributing a shrinking patrimony, with everyone getting poorer? And, yet, would not fuelling economic growth simply put more wealth in the hands of those who already had it? The big economic question faced by the ANC was: What would be the ideal relationship between growth and redistribution in South Africa? Or, more precisely, how could it set South Africa on the path of economic growth and at the same time ensure fair, just and politically necessary redistribution outcomes? Put yet another way: was there a way in which growth and redistribution in South Africa could complement each other?

This book describes how the new South African government addressed these challenges during the first decade of democracy, although its focus is more on economic policy and management than the distributional outcomes.

South Africa was one of the most unequal societies in the world - an almost unique ‘outlier’ in the unevenness of incomes as World . . .

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