Alexandra protest reflects socio-economic stagnation

Staff Writer | Apr 04, 2019
Until 2007 South Africa made real economic progress - corruption and ideology changed that

The IRR has said that protest action that flared up in Alexandra in the east of Johannesburg in part reflects stagnating socio-economic conditions in the country. Roads were barricaded in the suburb on Wednesday morning and commuters prevented from travelling freely as police officers engaged in running battles with protesters.

According to the IRR, South Africa made considerable social and economic progress between 1994 and 2007. Economic growth recovered strongly over that period. There was a significant increase in the number of people with jobs. Service deliver trends showed real successes in areas ranging from housing delivery to access to water and electricity.

However, over the decade since 2008, a series of socio-economic indicators have stagnated while others have begun to show reversals.    

The IRR said that this was in part a function of corruption and state-capture, but that it also reflected the ideological outlook of a government that became increasingly hostile to markets, the private sector, and property rights. Contrary to some mainstream analysis, this ideological hostility has continued under Cyril Ramaphosa and examples include mining policy and legislation, expropriation threats, and the proposed National Health Insurance policy.

The IRR said that without an ideological reformation within the ANC, hostile and counterproductive policy would remain in place. The effect would be to reduce South Africa’s investment attractiveness and with it the country’s economic growth rate. In that case, socio-economic conditions would continue to stagnate and  may even begin to decline, creating fertile ground for escalating levels of violent protest action.

The antidote, according to the IRR, is to repeal all race-based legislation, secure property rights, and deregulate the labour market.    

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