Varieties of neoliberalism within the Post-Cold War period : economic policy in the Post-Apartheid South Africa

Van Vuuren, Ian (2013-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Bibliography

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis describes the development of neoliberalism within the global context and explains how this ideology influenced economic policy formulation in post-apartheid South Africa. Policies from the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) to the New Economic Growth Path (NEGP) are analysed within the timeframe from 1996 to 2011 to determine how and whether neoliberalism had an impact on policy formulation. The development of neoliberal thinking is historicised to illustrate how it became the dominant ideational framework at the world order level. This was a path dependent process which is traced at the social, institutional and ideational levels. The establishment of the Mont Pelerin Society, the development of the post-Second World War economic order and the development and implementation of the Washington Consensus are important aspects of a counter-ideational challenge to Keynesianism which took place over some 25 years. The rationale behind neoliberalism and the implementation of neoliberal policies is strongly motivated by assumptions such as private property rights, deregulation of trade, finance and production and a form of state which facilitates market dominant policies. Neoliberalism strongly came to prominence during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time increased pressure was placed on the South African apartheid government from outside and inside to implement more market-orientated or neoliberal economic policies. It became increasingly evident that South Africa’s isolation to economic globalisation was not sustainable. At the time of the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC) and the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, the ANC did not have a clearly formulated economic programme. Neoliberal thinking gradually gained in influence among ANC leaders and policy makers and after the party resoundingly won the 1994 elections, it seemed that neoliberal thinking became well established, albeit with some important variations and distinctive characteristics. The Growth, Employment and Redistribution programme did not fully achieve its primary goals of employment creation and redistribution, although a period of economic growth (2002-2006) did follow the first phase of its implementation. This led to a rethink and reevaluation of economic policy, particularly after the global financial crisis (2007-2009). The first “rethink” led to the adoption of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA). This shift is regarded by some analysts as an economic transition period from GEAR to a more developmentalist and interventionist policy, but is, in fact, characterised by continuity and is in line with the World Bank’s post-Washington consensus thinking. This period is also characterised by internal tensions within the ANC and the leadership struggle between Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki (the incumbent president and architect of GEAR), Zuma’s victory was regarded as a victory for the left, but was followed by minor concessions and more continuity in policy, notwithstanding the launching of the NEGP in 2011 which spells out some goals for democratising and restructuring the economy. The study concludes that neoliberalism had a unique influence on economic policy formulation in South Africa even though it was not a pure reflection of neoliberal policies. Economic policy formulation in South Africa has undergone constant change and adaptation and reflects the shifting balance of power between the major social forces related to production and finance in the country. At the rhetorical level, policy seems to be moving in the direction of a democratic developmental state and this needs to be viewed within the context of the circumstances which led to the development of the RDP, GEAR and the NEGP.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die tesis beskryf die ontwikkeling van neoliberalisme binne die globale konteks en verduidelik hoe hierdie ideologie ekonomiese beleidformulering in Suid-Afrika beïnvloed het. Ekonomiese beleid vanaf die Herkonstruksie en Ontwikkling-program (HOP), die Groei, Indiensneming en Herverspreiding-program (GIEH) en die Nuwe Ekonomiese Groei-pad (NEGP) word geanaliseer binne die tydsbestek vanaf 1996-2011, ten einde te bepaal hoe en of neoliberalisme ’n impak op beleidsformulering in die land gehad het. Die ontwikkeling van neoliberale denke word histories beskryf ten einde te illustreer hoe dit, op die wêreld-orde vlak, die dominante ideologiese raamwerk vir ekonomiese beleid geword het. Hierdie proses was afhanklik van ’n aantal duidelik lynverwante fases wat nagespoor word op die kontinuum van sosiale, institusionele en idees dimensies. Die vorming van die Mont Pelerin Stigting, die ontwikkeling van die na-oorlogse (WWII) ekonomiese orde en die ontwikkeling en implementering van die Washington-konsensus is belangrike aspekte van die bou van ’n ideologiese alternatief vir Keynesianisme wat oor ongeveer 25 jaar plaasgevind het. Die rasionaal onderliggend aan neoliberalisme en daarmee gepaardgaande beleid word sterk gemotiveer deur die aannames van privaat eiendomsregte, deregulering van handel, finanasies en produksie en ’n staatsvorm wat mark-dominante beleid fasiliteer. Neoliberalisme het tydens die 1970s and 1980s prominent geword. Tydens hierdie periode is van buite en van binne toenemende druk op die apartheid regime geplaas om meer markgeorienteerde en neoliberale beleidsveranderinge te implementeer. Dit is veral tydens die 1980s dat dit al hoe duideliker geword het dat Suid-Afrika se isolasie in ’n ekonomies globaliserende wêreld nie meer haalbaar was nie. Ten tye van die ontbanning van die ANC en die vrylating van Nelson Mandela in 1990, het die ANC nie ’n duidelik geformuleerde ekonomiese program en beleid gehad nie. Teen 1994, het neoliberale denke geleidelik in invloed toegeneem onder ANC leiers en beleidmakers, en na die eerste demokratiese verkiesing, het dit voorgekom asof dit goed gevestig was, met nietemin belangrike plaaslike variasies en onderskeibare kenmerke. Die GIEH, wat as die amptelike vervatting van neoliberale ekonomiese beleid beskou kan word, het nie ten volle sy primêre doelwitte van werkskepping en herverspreiding bereik nie, alhoewel ’n periode van ekonomiese groei (2002-2006) wel gevolg het na die eerste fase van dié beleid se implementering. Dit het tot ’n herbeskouing en herevaluering gelei, veral na die globale finansiële krisies (2007-2009). Die eerste “herformulering” van beleid het gelei tot die aanname van die Versnelde en Gedeelde Groei-inisiatief vir Suid-Afrika (VGGISA). Hierdie ontwikkeling is deur sommige waarnemers beskou as ’n ekonomiese oorgang van GIEH na ’n meer ontwikkelingsgerigte en intervensionistiese staat, maar is, in der waarheid, gekenmerk deur kontinuïteit en was in pas met die post-Washington konsensus beleid van die Wêreld Bank. Hierdie periode is ook noemenswaardig vir interne spanninge binne die ANC en die leierskaps-stryd tussen Jacob Zuma en Thabo Mbeki (die sittende president en argitek van GIEH). Zuma se oorwinning is beskou as ’n oorwinning vir die linksgesindes in die Drieparty Alliansie (ANC, COSATU en SACP), maar is gevolg deur klein toegewings en meer kontinuïteit in ekonomiese beleid. Dit, nieteenstaande die feit dat die NEGP in 2011 lanseer is,met as onderbou die demokratisering en herstrukturering van die ekonomie. Die studie kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat neoliberalisme ’n unieke invloed op ekonomiese beleidsformulering in Suid-Afrika gehad het, selfs al was dit nie ’n suiwer weerspieëling van hierdie denkrigting nie. Ekonomiese beleidsformulering ondergaan voortdurend verandering en aanpassing en weerspieël veranderinge in magsverskuiwinge tussen die vernaamste sosiale magte verwant aan produksie en finansies in die land. Op die retoriese vlak, skyn dit asof beleid besig is om te verander in die rigting van ’n demokratiese onwikkelings-staat en dit moet gesien word binne die konteks van die omstandighede wat gelei het tot die ontwikkeling van die HOP, GIEH en NEGP.

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