South Africans should brace themselves for “further economic decline” if the ANC retains its grip on power in next week’s election.

This is the conclusion reached by author Ivo Vegter in one of the latest reports from the IRR, Growth prospects of the African National Congress manifesto.

Vegter writes: “The manifesto promises to fix a lot of things, without interrogating the ideology and policies that led to their being broken in the first place. It does contain some well-intended promises, but the credibility of those promises is significantly undermined by the failure of the ANC to fulfil nearly identical promises in the past.”

In a companion paper, Growth prospects of the Democratic Alliance manifesto, Vegter writes of the official opposition’s election proposition that it “is a fairly growth-friendly document, that will – if implemented – achieve significant improvements in South Africa’s economic performance”.

He notes, however, that the DA manifesto “does not strongly prioritise economic growth in and of itself, however, and this lack of focus leads to several oversights”.

“In particular, the DA missed a trick by not proposing voucher systems to fund private sector service provision to the poor, especially in the areas of education and healthcare. Its ideas in this regard are largely unoriginal and do not go far enough to systemically reverse the crises in which these sectors find themselves.”

In a statement, the IRR emphasises that “the singular overarching goal that any post-election public policy must achieve (is) vigorous economic growth”.

“On this depends every effort to reduce poverty, grow jobs, reconstruct failing infrastructure, and improve race relations.”

Against this imperative, Vegter writes of the ANC: “History, both in South Africa and abroad, shows that the socialist policies the ANC continues to pursue lead to stagnation, unemployment, poverty and corruption. A manifesto that promises to redouble the ANC’s efforts in pursuit of the socialist National Democratic Revolution and the failed National Development Plan is not a manifesto that will lead to rapid economic growth and a vibrant economy capable of employing millions of people and lifting millions more out of poverty.”

In assessing the DA proposition, Vegter writes that “the broad thrust of the DA’s manifesto is consistent with classical liberal principles, and much of it agrees, loosely speaking, with the problems and proposed solutions identified by the IRR in a series of papers focused on the economic growth prospects of South Africa”.

He concludes: “Despite a few notable lapses, the DA’s manifesto contains a wealth of good intentions and ideas. The party’s economic policy instincts generally distrust government control and embrace free enterprise and the power of markets. This is to be commended and bodes well for the economic growth prospects of South Africa under any future government in which the DA might play an influential role.”

The two papers were launched simultaneously with an online discussion with the author, which you can watch here: