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International Handbook on Privatization

Edited by David Parker and David Saal

Privatization has dominated industrial restructuring programs since the 1980s and continues to do so. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers all aspects of this key issue, including: the theory of privatization; privatization in transition, developed and developing economies; as well the economic regulation of privatized industries.
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Chapter 14: Privatization in South Africa

Erwin Schwella


Erwin Schwella Introduction Privatization in South Africa is a hotly debated issue. In The Shopsteward of September 2000 (the official mouthpiece of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)), the editor comments: ‘COSATU rejects the argument put forward in the media and by Government ministers that they must be “realistic” and that “there is no alternative to a free market, neo-liberal capitalist solution, as advocated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund” (COSATU, 2000:2). It should be noted that COSATU, a trade union federation, has been part of the tripartite government alliance in South Africa since 1994. The other two parties are the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). COSATU is therefore in the same government as the minister(s) to whom the editor refers in the above quotation. In the quoted editorial, the editor is also highly critical of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy of the government, to which it is partner, as this strategy ‘has created neither growth, employment nor redistribution’. There should, according to the editorial, rather be a return to the only realistic alternative for workers, which is to put socialism back on the agenda with policies that put the interest of the workers and the poor first and not the interests of business and the rich. In South Africa, according to COSATU, this would mean going back to the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and implementing it vigorously to redress the inequalities and...

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