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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 11: The situation in 2000

Stuart Jones


Stuart Jones At the end of the twentieth century the long decline of the South African economy may have finally come to an end. Much depends on the policies adopted and implemented by the African National Congress/Communist Party government. The signals coming out of Pretoria are confusing. At one moment, when addressing Western bankers, the right noises are made but then almost immediately contradicted by hardliners in the government. After seven and a half years in power very little has been accomplished in the area of privatization and in increasing the efficiency of government. Indeed, aggressive affirmative action policies have led to growing inefficiency across a broad range of services but most noticeably in the education, public health and crime prevention. Agriculture, as Nick Vink and Stefan Schirmer have shown, has seen the fresh breeze of market forces lead to the dismantling of the producerdominated control structures across a wide range of commodities and an attempt to bring about more efficient land usage, but the thorny problem of land ownership has not been resolved, and this has led to a fall in farm values. Talk of creating small farms for grain growing at a time when large grain growing enterprises are the norm, seems a little unreal and, in the light of the destruction of much of the commercial farming in neighbouring Zimbabwe, the future of agriculture would appear to be at a crossroads. The situation in mining is clearer. The long-term decline in the gold mines is well under...

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