Our website use cookies to improve and personalize your experience and to display advertisements (if any). Our website may also include cookies from third parties like Google Adsense, Google Analytics, and Youtube. By using the website, you consent to the use of cookies.

South Africans tasted the fruits of freedom and then corruption snatched them away – podcast

FIVE years after his momentous election as South African president, Nelson Mandela stepped down after one term in office in 1999. Thabo Mbeki, his deputy, took over the mantle of the post-apartheid transition. Mbeki would lead the country for the next nine years, a period of relatively high economic growth which enabled South Africans to begin to taste the fruits of freedom.

To mark 30 years since South Africa’s post-apartheid transition began, The Conversation Weekly podcast is running a special three-part podcast series, What happened to Nelson Mandela’s South Africa?

In this second episode of the series, we talk to two experts about the economic policies introduced to transform the country under Mbeki, and the turmoil of the presidency of Jacob Zuma that followed.



When Mandela took over as president of South Africa in 1994, the country’s economy was emerging from a long recession.

“The immediate period after the democratic transition in 1994 the African National Congress (ANC) ran a programme of austerity, that aimed to reduce spending and, at the same time, reorganise the state,” explains Michael Sachs, an economics professor at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Then from the early 2000s, as the economic situation improved and South Africa capitalised on a global commodities boom, the government began to expand its fiscal policy, in particular extending two social grants, the old age grant and the child support grant.

READ:  UK imposes sanctions on Guptas

At the same time, a policy of black economic empowerment – which included skills development and preferential procurement for black people – was formalised under the Mbeki administration. Sachs explains the rationale behind these policies was to redress the historical injustice of apartheid:

All of the property in the country and particularly productive property is owned by a single ethnic group, which is white people – that’s essentially the situation we were in 1994. And so you had a government now that was accountable to a majority that was poor and black. It’s a no-brainer that you’re going to have to find ways of transferring ownership of that capital.

The Zuma years

In 2008, Mbeki’s presidency came to an end when the ANC recalled him, paving the way for the ascension of his successor, Jacob Zuma, after the 2009 national and provincial elections. Zuma’s years in office unleashed what many see as a significant turning point in South Africa’s democratic history.

Allegations of state capture and corruption dogged the Zuma presidency, particularly centred around his relationship with three businessmen called the Gupta brothers.

Mashupye Maserumule, a professor of public affairs at Tshwane University who is writing a book about Zuma, says that although Zuma’s presidency “started well”, with a National Development Plan, “the better part of his presidency was characterised by a systematic destruction of the country”.

He destroyed the ANC … but at the same time also we need to emphasise that the ANC has in many ways … allowed itself to be destroyed by Jacob Zuma because very old organisations, such as the ANC can only be destroyed if it is willing to be destroyed.

Listen to our interviews with Mashupye Maserumule and Michael Sachs on The Conversation Weekly in the second episode of our What happened to Nelson Mandela’s South Africa? series.

READ:  Jacob Zuma isn’t a man with a cause. Just a wily politician trying to evade the law

A transcript of this episode will be available shortly.

Disclosure statement

Mashupye Maserumule has received funding from the National Research Foundation. He is a member of the National Planning Commission and the South African Association of Public Administration and Management. Michael Sachs coordinates the Public Economy Project, which receives funding from the Gates Foundation. He was a member and employee of the ANC in the 1990s and 2000s, and later on a government official.

Credits

Newsclips in this episode from AP Archive, Euronews, SABC News and AlJazeera English.

Special thanks for this series to Gary Oberholzer, Jabulani Sikhakhane, Caroline Southey and Moina Spooner at The Conversation Africa. This episode of The Conversation Weekly was written and produced by Mend Mariwany, with production assistance from Katie Flood. Gemma Ware is the executive producer. Sound design was by Eloise Stevens, and our theme music is by Neeta Sarl. Stephen Khan is our global executive editor, Alice Mason runs our social media and Soraya Nandy does our transcripts.

You can find us on Instagram at theconversationdotcom or contact the podcast team directly via email. You can also subscribe to The Conversation’s free daily email here.

Listen to The Conversation Weekly via any of the apps listed above, download it directly via our RSS feed or find out how else to listen here.

GEMMA WARE, Head of Audio, The Conversation and Thabo Leshilo, Politics + Society, The Conversation

By GEMMA WARE

Head of Audio, The Conversation and Thabo Leshilo, Politics + Society, The Conversation

MORE FROM THIS SECTION