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, rulebound, 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.
This work is part of the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre programme
Hirsch, A. and Levy, B. (2018) Elaborate scaffolding, weak foundations: Business–government relations and economic reform in democratic South Africa. ESID Working Paper No. 105. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester