South Africa: A New Vocabulary Is Needed to Make Sense of South Africa's Economic Quagmire


It feels like for the longest time, we've been served verbal herbal tea and saccharine shibboleths when it comes to the flavour of economic growth our country is after. The National Development Plan (NDP), a 500-page blockbuster subtitled 'Our future - make it work', is in terms of literary value and spunk a sleepy soliloquy, blanketed with IMF best practice blurbs for slipping the middle-income noose.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The plot is watery, despite the fact that it was penned at a time of great global and local tumult. A time when the glorious promise of prosperity of the early 2000s was melting away, and global recession was gnashing its fangs, as the old truths of a bounty for all were crumbling.

We got more of the same about a developmental economy, "enhanced capabilities" and "active citizenry". What followed was not much better, equally failing to tap into the emerging, millennial zeitgeist of green, morally inflected economics attempting to shake free of the post-industrialist, consumerist gospel of growth driven by commodity extraction.

Incoming President Cyril Ramaphosa's much-anticipated Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) was a greyer, tamer laundry list of triage steps, rather than...

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