LISTEN | 'Shadow of Liberation' authors discuss whether ANC sold out

12 February 2020 - 16:05
The ANC's social policy agenda during the '90s may have created an enabling environment for corruption, argue Vishnu Padayachee and Robert van Niekerk.
The ANC's social policy agenda during the '90s may have created an enabling environment for corruption, argue Vishnu Padayachee and Robert van Niekerk.
Image: Reuters

Did leaders and comrades "sell out" the ANC? This is a question many South Africans have grappled with since the birth of our democracy. 

Vishnu Padayachee and Robert van Niekerk, authors of Shadow of Liberation: Contestation and Compromise in the Economic and Social Policy of the African National Congress, 1943-1996, discuss the matter with SAfm's Stephen Grootes here: 

'Shadow of Liberation' by Vishnu Padayachee & Robert van Niekerk.
'Shadow of Liberation' by Vishnu Padayachee & Robert van Niekerk.
Image: Supplied

About the book:

Shadow of Liberation explores in intricate detail the twists, turns, contestations and compromises of the ANC's economic and social policy-making, particularly during the transition era and the early years of democracy.

Padayachee and Van Niekerk focus on the questions of how and why the ANC, given its historical anti-inequality, redistributive stance, did such a dramatic about-face in the 1990s and moved towards an essentially market-dominated approach.

Was it pushed or did it go willingly? What role, if any, did Western governments and international financial institutions play? And what about the role of the late apartheid state and South African business? Did leaders and comrades "sell out" the ANC’s emancipatory policy vision?

Drawing on the best available primary archival evidence, as well as extensive interviews with key protagonists across the political, non-government and business spectrum, the authors argue that the ANC’s emancipatory policy agenda was broadly to establish a social democratic welfare state to uphold rights of social citizenship.

However, its economic policy framework to realise this mission was either non-existent or egregiously misguided.

With the damning revelations of the Zondo commission mounting daily, the timing of this book could not be more relevant.

South Africans need to confront the economic and social policy choices that the liberation movement made and consider how these decisions may have facilitated the conditions for corruption – not only of a crude financial character, but also of our emancipatory values as a liberation movement – to emerge and flourish.