From the Freedom Charter to Polokwane: The Evolution of ANC Economic Policy
New Agenda: South African Journal of Social and Economic Policy, 2008 - Economic development - 279 pages
The ANC has a long history of radical politics and action as a liberation movement against white domination. Its achievements in transforming the political order are unique in the world. But the imperatives of achieving and maintaining state power in unfavourable circumstances imposed major constraints upon it and led to controversial policy shifts around growth-development choices, with unintended consequences. This book traces the economic debates in the ANC over a decade in government as it faced cruel decisions on the balance to be pursued between macro-economic stabilisation and attending to the colossal social deprivations of the mass of the people. It finds that financial stabilisation became the overriding objective, and the ANC government became frozen in a continuing pursuit of cautious and orthodox economic policies under the mantra of fiscal prudence. The government became trapped in a mindset of growth as the route to development and lost the will to explore economic alternatives. The bulk of the members of the ANC sensed that stasis had taken over, hence the 2007 National Conference of the ANC at Polokwane saw the ousting of a substantial segment of the national leadership from office. This book argues that a major reason for this rejection was the failure to pursue the economic transformation promised in the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The Conference indicated clearly that a large proportion of the ANC still aspires to the kind of sharing of the economy envisaged during the struggle against apartheid.