An Evaluation of Industrial Policy Perspectives in the South African Context

The broad industrial strategy followed since the 1920s, even though not consciously framed in those terms, seemed to display three main characteristics.

First, it contained some elements of import substitution industrialization by means of protecting local industries from competition through import tariffs. Second, the state played a significant role in setting up corporations to drive a programme of industrialization. Third, a dual labour market was created, where white South Africans were incorporated into a limited welfare state and were accorded labour rights, whereas black South Africans were formally excluded through a repressive labour regime (Joffe, Maller & Webster 1995). As with all policy, the making of industrial policy does not take place in a social vacuum. Policy is always influenced by the articulation of vested interests. When it became clear in the early 1990s that South Africa would enter a transition process based on a negotiated settlement, industrial policy received renewed attention as a way to address the legacies of apartheid capitalism. Debates on the relationship between the state and market became an area of intense contestation. In this paper, the discussion is limited to four major perspectives that became influential in the 1990s. In each instance, the assumptions regarding South Africa's industrial structure, as well as the policy prescriptions flowing from these assumptions, are discussed.

  • Authors: A Bezuidenhout
  • Year: 2002
  • Organisation: NEDLAC
  • Publisher: Umanyano Publications
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