Home | About Us | News Feeds RSS | Subscribe | Support Us | User Login | Search

Southern Africa Report Archive

ANC POLICIES: UP TO THE CHALLENGE? As Patrick Bond suggests in an article in this issue, overseas progressives who have long supported the liberation struggle in South Africa - and, more specifically, backed the African National Congress itself - are increasingly uneasy about the direction the ANC government has taken since assuming power last year. Hasn't it adhered far too closely to a neo-liberal line in the economic sphere? Hasn't it shown far too strong an inclination to inhibit rather than to unleash popular energies as a force for the on-going transformation of South Africa? (jbv)

vol 10 no 3

Editorial and contents for Vol 10 No 3
the SAR editorial collective


Printable Version
Southern Africa Report

SAR, Vol 10, No 3, March 1995
Page 1
"Editorial"

EDITORIAL: POLICY AND POWER

As Patrick Bond suggests in his lead article in this issue, overseas progressives who have long supported the liberation struggle in South Africa - and, more specifically, backed the African National Congress itself - are increasingly uneasy about the direction the ANC government has taken since assuming power last year. Hasn't it adhered far too closely to a neo-liberal line in the economic sphere? Hasn't it shown far too strong an inclination to inhibit rather than to unleash popular energies as a force for the on-going transformation of South Africa?

Bond's sample is drawn from left economists, mainly American, gathered recently in Washington to discuss things South African. But the questioning, even querulous, mood is much more widespread than that: it is evident, certainly, in many circles here in Canada. As you will see, Bond finds much of this discussion one-sided and unduly negative in its overall cast. But he would no doubt be quick to acknowledge that such questioning is not confined to the world beyond South Africa. A flurry of public documents released inside the country in the latter part of last year registered a growing unease within South Africa's own popular movement as well.

Thus, a document prepared by the ANC's partner organization, the South African Communist Party, for November's "Socialist Conference for Reconstruction and Development" underscores the necessity to challenge within the movement the pervasiveness of "neo-liberal macro-economic assumptions." It also presents a long litany of policies mounted by the new government that manifest merely "defeatist and fatalistic assumptions" about the extent to which South Africa must reintegrate itself into the world economy and also narrow aspirations towards a more sweeping redistribution of wealth and resources and "the decommodification of basic needs."

Or take the paper released by South Africa's leading trade union congress, Cosatu, on the eve of the ANC's Bloemfontein conference in December. As Southscan (16 December, 1994) reports of this paper, "without naming him, it undermines the positions on finance and trade set out by Trevor Manuel, attacking in particular the `dogmatic adherence to rapid unplanned trade liberalization and the lifting of all protective tariffs'." And the paper also questions the selling-off of state assets, adding that "Our opposition will not be softened by the so-called `Malaysian route' whereby individuals from the black population are enriched by the sale of state assets, while their communities end up suffering." And yet, only a few weeks later, there is Vice-President Thabo Mbeki in Bonn not just reciting the litany of competitiveness and lowered corporate taxes to lure investors but, quite explicitly, dangling as a carrot favourable deals linked to the possible sale of extensive state holdings!

Small wonder that Bond, even in his reluctance to preach despair, emphasizes that positive outcomes must, nonetheless, not be taken for granted. As he argues in his article, they will have to be won on the ground by people - grounded, in particular, in the still vital organs of South Africa's civil society - who press to draw out the most progressive possible implications of the ANC's Reconstruction and Development Programme.

This will not be easy. Nor will the task of evaluating the process of doing so. The certitudes of past left economic debates are no longer so easy to sustain. And the situation, both local and global, that confronts the ANC is a harsh and challenging one. We hope to publish more articles like that by Bond that begin to provide a language, critical but sympathetic, in which to talk about the contradictory picture that post-apartheid policy-making in South Africa presents.

* * *

Of course, in doing so we will need to look both at the micro and the macro pictures. Consequently, as complements to Bond's article, we have two more specific case studies: of policy developments in both the housing and the health spheres, written by Barry Pinsky and Yogan Pillay respectively. And we provide several rather different articles about South Africa as well, a trenchant criticism by Mzwanele Mayekiso of current attempts to rewrite South Africa's recent history in the interests of a conservative perspective on the present, and two memorials, by writers closely associated with SAR (Linzi Manicom and John Saul), for their friend, the late Joe Slovo.

Nor is the rest of the southern African region forgotten. Thus Richard Saunders investigates "civil society" in its Zimbabwean manifestations, an important theme in its own right but also full of possibly salutary hints for South Africans who now seek to strengthen civil society in their own country. Our Angola correspondent Victoria Brittain returns, once again, to the sad story of Angola - and to the continuing centrality to that story of the grim figure of Savimbi. And David Pottie talks with Zimbabwean AIDS activist, Tisa Chifunyise, about some of the ramifications of that dread disease - so prominent a killer across the entire region - in Zimbabwe. In short, as we move through our tenth year of publication of SAR , the story we have to tell doesn't necessarily get any prettier. But the telling of it seems as important as ever.

- 30 -

=================================

Southern Africa Report
Contents - Vol 10, No 3
"ANC Policies: Up to the Challenge?"

Editorial: Policy and Power - 1

Under the Microscope: The ANC in Power - 3
by Patrick Bond

Spelling Out the Policies:
I. The Housing Question
- 8
by Barry Pinsky

Spelling Out the Policies:
II. Whose Health?
- 11
by Yogan Pillay

Savimbi . . . Again - 14
by Victoria Brittain

Joe Slovo: I. Ode to a Mensch - 16
by Linzi Manicom

Joe Slovo: II. Words and Deeds - 19
by John S Saul

Civics in Zimbabwe: Are They Making a Difference? - 21
by Richard Saunders

AIDS, Education, Theatre: A Zimbabwe Experience - 26
by David Pottie

Bell Curve, South Africa Style:
Re-writing the Civics Movement
- 29
by Mzwanele Mayekiso

Printable Version

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

     top of page

 back to SAR page