When Mandela was president (A Critical Evaluation)

The self-imposition of economic and development policies–typically at the behest of financial markets and the Washington/Geneva multilateral institutions–required an extraordinary insulation from genuine national determinations: in short, an “elite transition.”

This policy insulation from mass opinion could only be achieved through the leadership of Mandela. It was justified by invoking the mantra of “international competitiveness,” and it initially peaked with Mandela’s 1996 Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy. Obeisance to multinational corporations helped shape the terrain on the platinum belt that inexorably generated the Marikana Massacre in 2012, for example. In the South African case, it must be stressed, the decision to reduce the room for maneuver was made as much by the local principals as it was by the Bretton Woods Institutions, other financiers and investors.

South Africa’s democratization was profoundly compromised by an intra-elite economic deal that, for most people, worsened poverty, unemployment, inequality and ecological degradation, while also exacerbating many racial, gender and geographical differences. In the pages below, we can review most of the critical choices and outcomes from 1994-1999. These confirmed the late-apartheid turn to neoliberal economic management and amplified that turn in the context of world neoliberal hegemony until–and beyond–the 1998 East Asian crisis.

This piece is quite long, but worth the time. It’s the best assessment, in terms of accuracy and insight, that i have read.


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