Annual Forum Papers

The Post-Apartheid South African Labour Market

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Morne Oosthuizen; Haroon Bhorat
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

Since 1994, the South African economy has undergone significant changes with the government implementing various policies aimed at redressing the injustices of the past, fleshing out the welfare system and improving competitiveness as South Africa becomes increasingly integrated into the global economy. These policies have, directly or indirectly, impacted on the labour market and, consequently, on the lives of millions of South Africans.This paper's chief objective is the analysis of some of the changes in the South African labour market in the post-apartheid era. The period, between 1995 and 2002, began with much promise and many challenges as the economy liberalised and normal trade relations were resumed with the rest of the world.Soon after the African National Congress came into power, the macro-economic strategy named 'Growth, Employment and Redistribution'(or GEAR) was unveiled in 1996. This strategy predicted, amongst other things, employment growth averaging 270 000 jobs per annum from 1996 to 2000, with the number of new jobs created rising over time from 126 000 in 1996 to 409 000 in 2000 (GEAR 1996).Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, these projections were not realised. In fact, in terms of the labour market,the experience of the second half of the 1990s appears to have fallen short of even the baseline scenario contained in the GEAR document, which projected a net increase in (non-agricultural formal)employment of slightly more than 100 000 jobs per annum.