New Agenda: South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy <p>NEW AGENDA is an <strong>Open Access,</strong> peer-reviewed journal and is accredited by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). The journal’s focus encompasses South African, African and international developments in social and economic research and policy. It aims to provide high-quality pertinent information and analysis for stakeholders in government, academia and civil society. </p> <p>New Agenda is the flagship publication of the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA). IFAA is dedicated to promoting economic transformation, non-racialism, anti-racism and gender equality, continental solidarity and African self-reliance, and youth participation in political and social discourse.</p> en-US (Moira Levy) (Mark Snyders) Fri, 12 Jul 2024 08:04:16 +0000 OJS 60 Special issue on 30 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY <p>Download full issue.</p> Martin Nicol Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Nostalgia as a weapon … … and also a way to bring back the dream <p>Instead of focusing on the elections and the implications of the polling outcome, ARI SITAS suggests we channel our pre-occupation with the past and our recent spate of commemorations of political and economic milestones into revisiting the ‘dream’ and restoring a commitment to hope.</p> <p>The last two years have been all about political nostalgias in South Africa. They were marked by serious commemorative events that emphasised the “possible” that never was: 50 years since the Durban strikes, the spontaneous upsurge there of a black working-class; 40 years since the launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF), the unprecedented popular-democratic movement that challenged apartheid to its core. That was 2023.</p> Ari Sitas Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Persistent and obscene inequality <p>How is one to understand the poor economic performance of the South African economy since the end of apartheid SEERAJ MOHAMED argues that the post-apartheid government chose to adopt neoliberal economic policies rather than taking on a developmental state role. These policies opened the way for the large dominant corporations to pursue high short-term returns through misallocating capital from productive sectors towards speculation and “lazy” rent-seeking activities. In the process they denuded, deindustrialised and financialised the economy. Still today, the South African government (supported by elites of large corporations) ignores the lessons of history and pursues damaging neoliberal economic policies that impose an unprecedented degree of suffering on the majority of South Africans.</p> Seeraj Mohamed Copyright (c) 2024 Seeraj Mohamed Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Corporate corruption of South African politics and economics <p>&nbsp;Author details: Patrick Bond is Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg, Department of Sociology, where he is Director of the Centre for Social Change. From 2020-21 he was Professor at the Western Cape School of Government and from 2015-2019 was a Distinguished Professor of Political Economy at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Governance. From 2004 through mid-2016, he was Senior Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Built Environment and Development Studies and was also Director of the Centre for Civil Society. He lectured from 1997-2004 at the Wits School of Governance. He has held visiting posts at a dozen universities and presented lectures at more than 100 others.</p> Patrick Bond Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 The de-mobilisation of Action Kommandant <p>When the ANC was unbanned it sought to demobilise grassroots democracy. In disbanding the United Democratic Front, the ANC turned its back on the insurgent non-racialism that had emerged in the 1980s, argues ROBERT VAN NIEKERK. It opted instead for a neo-liberal strategy of economic development and elitist democracy.</p> <p>The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture (2022) laid bare the evisceration of South African state capacity through unchecked plunder by apparatchiks (or cadres) in the ruling ANC and its collaborators in the private sector. This denouement can be traced to the early 1990s where the moral and political decay of the ANC became evident with the emblematic injunction<br />by senior leaders of government such as the then deputy-minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka that “Black businessmen should not be shy to say they wanted to become ‘filthy rich’” (News24 Business: 2005; Taylor, 2016: 35).</p> Robert Van Niekerk Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 05 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Unemployment, poverty and inequality in SA as seen through a feminist political-economy lens <p>Author information: Sbusisiwe Sibeko is an economist and researcher. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Duke University and a Masters in the Political Economy of Development from SOAS, University of London. She has worked at the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ), where her research focus was macroeconomic policy and was the co-Chair of the Budget Justice Coalition (BJC). She considers herself a feminist political economist in training and is determined to be a part of unwinding structural injustice.</p> <p>Background: Much social reproduction is based in households, with women at the forefront, yet this work is still delegated to the periphery of political-economic policy discussions. In this article Sbusisiwe Sibeko provides a feminist political-economic perspective to investigate how women’s bodies and labour might be conceptualised as the ‘last colony’ of accumulation.</p> Sbusisiwe Sibeko Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 The idea of a ‘social protection floor’ for South Africa <p>South Africa leads the developing world in building a social protection system. A total of 28 million people — 45% of the population — currently receive a grant, including the nine million who get the Social Relief of Distress grant which has been extended every year since Covid. VIVIENE TAYLOR outlines how the idea of a ‘social protection floor’ developed over the 30 years of democracy and the shortcomings that still delay its full implementation.</p> <p>Over the last 30 years South Africa has established the basis for elements of a “social protection floor”, which should assist even the poorest households to attain a decent standard of living. Achieving a social protection floor is an essential requirement because of historical, political and constitutional imperatives.</p> Viviene Taylor Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 As we celebrate, we indict <p>This is a personal reflection of a rank-and-file activist on 30 years of democracy in South Africa. Whilst it celebrates the achievements of democracy, it seeks to indict us all for the crime of ukuxhaphaza nokunyela abantu baseMzantsi Afrika, (abusing and trampling on the dignity of the people of South Africa). SHEPI MATI explores how the fight for democracy impacted on our emotions, our hearts and our experience of living under formal democracy.</p> <p>This year marks 30 years of democracy in South Africa. April 2024 was 360 months since all South Africans – irrespective of colour, class, gender or creed – cast their votes to choose their public representatives for the first time. If we were to count this in days, it amounts to 10,958 days. I still remember the excitement and the buzz in the long snaking queue to cast our votes on that historic Wednesday at the Salt River Town Hall in Cape Town. I seek to trace my own personal journey as a young person belonging to a generation who, in the words of Franz Fanon, took up the challenge to define their mission and sought to fulfil it.</p> Shepi Mati Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 South Africa after 30 years <p>The ANC is confronted with one tough question: reform or die slowly. ROLAND NGAM delves into the ANC-led attempts at creating a South Africa that works for all and examines why the Freedom Charter’s resolution – “the People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth” – is still an aspiration three decades into Black majority rule. He posits that that many fundamental aspects of the national question, especially land and the economy, have been postponed for too long.</p> <p>Thirty years into the democratic dispensation, South Africa is still a country of two nations as former President Thabo Mbeki once famously described it. The dream of economic freedom post-apartheid is deferred indefinitely. The challenge of poverty remains, to borrow the famous words of the eminent African American scholar, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, “the problem of the color-line”. The rural countryside also looks and feels cast adrift. It is dominated by pervasive apartheid geography with a preponderance of informal settlements. Municipalities are struggling under the yoke of corruption and poor service delivery and because municipalities are struggling, hospitals, public transport, schools and security are struggling. A key priority of the national question, i.e. the long-promised land reform and a demand of the 1955 Congress of the People is yet to be delivered. This is fuelling a sense of betrayal among Blacks and it has become the cudgel that political parties, notably the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and rabble rousers use to beat the ANC with at every opportunity. Some anxious and sometimes mischievous voices have started saying openly that things were better for Blacks in the apartheid era.</p> Roland Ngam Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Looking to the past to shape Parliament’s future <p>On the eve of his retirement after 30 years as a Member of Parliament, Yunus Carrim shares a timely reminder of South African democracy’s “glorious” days. In an interview with MOIRA LEVY he reminisced about the 1994 Parliament, which he described as “an organic reflection of what this country is capable of”.</p> <p>A long-standing veteran of student, civic, community and political struggles since the ‘70s and in what became the Mass Democratic Movement of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, Yunus Carrim says the political culture of that time was carried over into the country’s first democratic Parliament and made manifest in the ANC’s legacy of peaceful negotiations. He recalls a moment during his first term. Leaving his office at about 2am and finding that the exit gate to the parking area in the basement was closed, he had to detour past the Old Assembly chamber. As he got nearer to it, he could hear a murmur of voices and clinking of cups and cutlery.</p> Moira Levy Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Laughter in the Dark: Egypt to the Tune of Change <p>The modern history of Egypt is told, by insiders and outsiders alike, largely through the narrative of authoritarian leaders and their so-called “iron-fisted” rule. Gamal Abdel Nasser (1956–1970) was well known for his method of having people disappeared – “behind the sun” is the Arabic refrain1 – if they disagreed with his socialist, nationalist policies, as well as for his persecution of Egypt’s Jews.2 And for thirty years, under the rule of the late Hosni Mubarak (1981–2011), citizens did not dare speak of politics, for fear of the deep state, with its troops of secret police and informants, notorious for their ruthless methods of kidnapping and torture.</p> Yasmine El Rashidi Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Statues and Storms: Leading through Change <p>Not thirty, but twenty years after democracy, South Africa’s oldest and most prestigious university was wracked by tumultuous upheavals sustained over two long years between 2015 and 2017. Although contestation and challenge were not new to the university, the nature and degree of student protest, directed at the university itself, were. A few years later, Max Price’s successor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, experienced different storms that relegated the events of 2015-7 firmly to the past. The book is nonetheless still relevant, as the calls with which those years were associated, for ‘free, quality, decolonial education,’ have endured.</p> Linda Chisholm Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 ’Democracy of a Special Type’? Persistent world-class inequality Gregory Ruiters Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000 Dateline Africa <p>South Africans have been sorely disappointed by the first 30 years of democracy – unemployment has increased, inequalities have deepened, corruption is rampant, there are water crises, electricity blackouts, potholed roads, awful education, creaking hospitals, lots of crime, gender-based violence, xenophobia, discordant politics … but no civil war, no genocide, no famine, no military coups, no mass kidnapping, no insurgencies, no unfair elections, no censorship, no capital punishment, no arbitrary arrests, no run-away inflation.</p> <p>Yes, the Mbeki government denied South Africans free HIV treatment, resulting in over 300,000 deaths (HSPH, 2009). And yes, there was Marikana, which left 34 miners dead, and one (short) insurrection in which more than 300 people died. But South Africa has free trade unions, vibrant civil society organisations, legal protection for LGBTI+ and a strong constitution protected by checks and balances. South Africa has been trying to find a way to make democracy work.</p> <p>In this Special Issue of New Agenda on 30 Years of Democracy in South Africa, IFAA’s regular quarterly Dateline Africa column looks beyond the country’s borders to see how democracy has fared in other countries in Africa over the last three decades. We look at the ten African countries with the highest populations to provide a comparative perspective – and we have added Rwanda.</p> <p>Each brief country profile cites a novel published since 1994 because, as acclaimed Egyptian writer, Naguib Mahfouz, said in 1988 on receiving his Nobel Prize in Literature, “…literary writers… spread the fragrance of joy and wisdom in this grief-ridden world of ours.”</p> Martin Nicol Copyright (c) 2024 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 00:00:00 +0000