Radical changes in recent politics

2017-05-17 06:00
Lebohang Mafa, social observer.

Lebohang Mafa, social observer.

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The recent politics in the country is about radical economic transformation.

There is currently no generally accepted definition of the phrase and it is often determined by who is using it.

The ANC has its interpretation, while the DA seldom uses it to patronise black voters. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) makes it sound more radical than everyone else.

In their book The Logic of Economic Reform in China, Xiaojing Zhang and Xin Chang use a contrast of two approaches to define radical economic transformation.

They contrast Chinese economic reform to former Soviet Union countries. They assert that the latter “features an attempt to destroy comprehensively and tho-roughly all the institutional arrangements of planned economic systems within a short space of time and then establish rapidly the institutional framework of a market economy with a set of radical transformation measures, such as liberalisation of economy, privatisation of properties and macro stabilisation.

This was supported by Prof. Christopher Malikane, advisor to the minister of Finance and professor in Economics at the University of the Witwatersrand.

During a Radio 702 interview, he described how he defines it:

“Changing the composition of output that the economy is producing and ownership and control patterns of who owns the entities that are making the most of the production in the economy, and who manages, makes decisions about investment patterns, employment patterns and pay in the labour market.”

He argues that part of the policies that need to be instituted is access to credit.

He says that people have been consistently arguing that there needs to be a state bank that is going to provide credit in a manner that is affordable to small and medium enterprises and established big businesses.

I am quoting these two definitions, feeling it best represents the school of thought I subscribe to.

They were central in how I understood the recent cabinet reshuffle.

Jacob Zuma, president of both the country and of the ANC, wants radical change in our economy.

To do that, he needed a minister who subscribes to this school of thought.

I am not sure that is what the new minister’s appointment was about.

In his press briefings, the new minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, was at pains to allay market fears, assuring them that there is going to be policy continuity at the treasury, with fiscal consolidation keenly observed.

This is baffling. It goes against the spirit in which the president justified his reshuffle and fuels policy confusions. Does our government have the courage to bring about radical economic transformation?

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