Researching the politics of development
Elaborate scaffolding, weak foundations: Business–government relations and economic reform in democratic South Africa
Working paper 105
Alan Hirsch and Brian Levy
This paper explores the evolution of the business–government dimensions of South Africa’s democratic political settlement. It details how and why market-based reforms were embraced by both political and economic actors in the 1990s as part of a broader commitment to a rule-bound political settlement. It explores two aspects of the subsequent play of the game: the rise and decline of a ‘corporatist’ elite bargain; and the evolution of initiatives to foster black economic empowerment. Overall, rule-bound, disciplining reforms were embraced more readily than pro-active initiatives to build capability. The result has been that South Africa became mired in a combination of economic stagnation and the strengthening over time of forces antithetical to market-based reform.