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The Decline of the South African Economy

Edited by Stuart Jones

South Africa’s leading economists adopt within this volume a sectoral approach in their analysis of the drastic changes that have occurred within the South African economy since 1970. The book illustrates how, despite its sophisticated infrastructure, the South African economy has shared in the economic decline – resulting from misguided economic policies – that has been the experience of Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Chapter 4: Agriculture, 1970-2000

Nick Vink and Stefan Schirmer


Nick Vink and Stefan Schirmer INTRODUCTION Dramatic transformations occurred in South African agriculture during the period from 1970 to 2000. Government policies towards farmers shifted in a number of ways, farmers’ characteristics changed, labour relations on the farms were transformed and the sector as a whole became more efficient than it had ever been before. The details of these changes are often still only vaguely understood and much research remains to be done in this field. This chapter draws on existing research to outline some of the broader patterns of change that occurred from 1970 to 2000. 4.2 THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CONTROL OVER AGRICULTURE: THE 1970s Four events between 1973 and 1976 created a security crisis in South Africa that was serious enough to threaten what Terreblanche (1998, p. 37) calls the ‘accumulation and legitimation aims of the white hegemonic order’. These were the ‘unlawful’ strikes by Black trade unions in the Durban region in 1973; the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries) oil crisis of 1973; the coup d’état in Lisbon in April 1974 that resulted in the abortive invasion of Angola by South Africa in 1975; and the Soweto unrest of June 1976. Desperate attempts by the ruling elite to prolong the existing order lasted for no more than 20 years after these events, and were doomed to failure. By 1976 (coinciding with the Soweto unrest) the economy had moved into a serious recession caused by the OPEC oil-price hikes and a global slowdown in growth. However,...

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