Join us in London, 22 May

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Tue May 16 07:26:04 MDT 2000


Monday, 22 May 2000, 6.30pm
Africa Centre, 38 King St, Covent Garden,

Join us to launch:

1) A witty new documentary, "Two Trevors go to Washington," about the
IMF/World Bank protests in mid-April (by Ben Cashdan)

2) A scathing book on post-apartheid society and economy:
"Elite Transition: From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South Africa"
(by Patrick Bond)

DESCRIPTIONS FOLLOW

SABC SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: "Two Trevors go to Washington"

30,000 protestors took to the streets of Washington in April, to
demonstrate at the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
While the activists scaled buildings and chained themselves to traffic
lights to voice their discontent with these powerful institutions, two
South Africans visited the US capital, to put forward their radically
different points of view.

On the inside: South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel: the
champion of South Africa's conservative economic policy introduced in
1996. Since this time, half a million jobs have been lost and poverty
has escalated in South Africa. Manuel is chair of the Board of
Governors of the IMF and World Bank for the year 2000.

On the streets: dissident Johannesburg Metro Government Councillor and
former ANC member, Trevor Ngwane, from Soweto. He joined the
protestors to call for immediate debt forgiveness and the closure of
the international financial institutions.

Through the contrasting perspectives - and sometimes humourous
adventures - of the Two Trevors, we take a look at the turnaround of
South Africa's ANC politicians as they implement a World Bank-style
structural adjustment programme. And we get a unique
insider-perspective on both the world economy's commanding heights,
and the global protest movement that has emerged to fight the power.

"The Two Trevors" is directed by Ben Cashdan for the South African
Broadcasting Corporation.

***

ELITE TRANSITION:

FROM APARTHEID TO NEOLIBERALISM
IN SOUTH AFRICA

by Patrick Bond

Published by Pluto Press (London) and University of Natal Press
(Pietermaritzburg), March 2000

WHY in South Africa, after so many gains in human
dignity were realised with political liberation in
1994,

     * have poverty and inequality--and symptoms
     like crime and domestic violence--increased?

     * was stagnation and massive unemployment the
     reward for allegedly "sound" macroeconomic
     policies?

     * did Black Economic Empowerment crash?

     * was the ANC's Reconstruction and Development
     Programme never taken seriously by most new
     state elites?

     * did so many left-leaning politicians,
     activists and intellectuals shift so far, so
     fast, to the right?

     * are so many development projects and
     programmes failing in townships and villages?

     * can the World Bank so confidently claim to
     have been "instrumental" in behind-the-scenes
     policy-making, without having had the political
     credibility to openly grant loans to Pretoria?

     * does global economic volatility offer both a
     threat to and a hope for genuine
     transformation in South Africa?

The quick answer to these questions is that South
Africa has had an "elite transition" from
apartheid to neoliberalism, with all the
contradictions that this entails.

Patrick Bond provides detailed arguments backed by
both theory and anecdote, drawing on his decade of
intensive work in townships, universities and the
commanding heights of the South African state. A
former journalist for international radio and
print media, a drafter of the Reconstruction and
Development Programme, an author/editor of many
government policy papers, and now a senior academic
at Wits University in Johannesburg, Bond is uniquely
placed to record the 1990s transition and its implications
for struggles against continuing social injustice.

Most importantly, as unpredictable global politics
and economics generate ever more dangerous
tensions, Bond's concluding chapter lays out the
new politics of international social movements,
which in turn offer hope for righting socio-
economic wrongs in South Africa, and across the
world.

***

> Mail and Guardian newspaper, 28 April 2000
>
> Review of Elite Transition. From Apartheid to Neoliberalism in South
> Africa, by Patrick Bond
>
> by Franco Barchiesi (Dept of Sociology, University of the
> Witwatersrand)
>
> Studies of the South African democratic transition have seen in the
> past few years the consolidation of a powerful, academically
> established orthodoxy. However, it is interesting that this field,
> once hegemonised by liberal or conservative commentators (Friedman,
> Lodge, Adam, Gilliomee, Schlemmer) is now shared with studies of a
> progressive, social-democratic origin. Notable among these are most
> of the essays in the recent Trade Unions and Democratisation in
> South Africa, edited by Eddie Webster and Glenn Adler. Common to all
> the authors mentioned are the praise of socio-political compromise
> as the basis of South African democratisation and the ideological
> assumption that compromise and reduction of social conflict
> necessarily imply the most promising possibilities for "win-win"
> solutions favourable to all stakeholders (particularly labour and
> capital).
>
> In contrast with this perspective, a current of critical studies has
> lately emerged to challenge views of the transition held in the
> academic mainstream. These works are often published by small,
> radical publishing houses at the university's margins and usually
> receive far less attention outside oppositional intellectual
> circles. Among these are Dale McKinley's The ANC and the Liberation
> Struggle, Hein Marais' South Africa: Limits to Change and Ashwin
> Desai's South Africa: Still Revolting. These are books that in
> different ways debunk the myth of a South African "miracle" based on
> negotiated settlements that opened the way for opposing social
> forces to achieve common understandings on the foundations of the
> new democracy, be they international competitiveness,
> nation-building, the Renaissance and so on. Rather, these researches
> contribute to show how political compromises concealed substantial
> continuities with the past in social and economic power structures
> and in policy orientations. As a result, the rise of free-market
> ideologies have been paralleled by the increasing domination of
> financial speculation over the national economy, devastating job
> losses, qualitative decline in public social services and widening
> social inequalities. At the same time the gradual closure of spaces
> of debate and contestation has reflected the growing marginalisation
> of labour and civil society organisations, while "transformation"
> has increasingly coincided with the circulation and constitution of
> new elites that largely recycle the old ones. And it is precisely to
> the elite character of the South African transition that is
> dedicated a welcome new addition to this current of critical
> studies, coming from Patrick Bond, professor at Wits' School of
> Public and Development Management.
>
> Bond's Elite Transition does not resort to abused cliches of ANC's
> "sell-out" to explain continuities and retreats in the transition.
> He rather chooses a longer term approach where it is argued that the
> rise of the ANC to power is the culmination of slow internal shifts
> that made the party credible for domestic and international capital.
> This reflected the ANC's reliability in managing a socio-economic
> context historically marked by the predominant role of finance
> capital in South Africa's development. At the same time, the rise of
> new elites promoted by the ruling party guaranteed legitimacy to
> such continuities. The other side of the coin is however represented
> by a persistent "uneven development" marked by huge areas of local,
> social, gendered and racial exclusion as a legacy of a growth path
> oriented to the financial profits of a limited minority. The ANC's
> acceptance of this trade-off, however, did not go uncontested, in
> Bond's argument. This was testified for example by the degree of
> labour and social movement mobilisation that supported a radical
> reading of the RDP well after the negotiated compromises had steered
> the country down the road of macro-economic conservatism.
> Possibilities for a "people-driven" RDP were, however, undermined by
> a developmentalist policy discourse that came to privilege
> technocratic decision-making, market-driven expansion and corporate
> profitability as keys to economic growth and social delivery. What
> Bond calls the "suffocating love from newfound friends" from the big
> business ultimately expropriated progressive forces even of the
> words and concepts to define social change. This determined the
> paradox of South Africa as probably the only country in the world
> where neoliberal economic policies are couched and sold in lefty and
> radical parlance. This style is adequately captured in the book by
> the definition of the current government as "talking left, acting
> right".
>
> From these points of view, Bond's work is an essential and
> invaluable contribution to the current discussions on the
> transition. His arguments present in great freshness and richness of
> details the inexorable advance of a logic of socio-economic
> restoration that questions the rigid politeness of mainstream
> academic models of the "negotiated transition". The flare and wit he
> uses to describe policy developments in the sphere of housing policy
> or the growing influence of the World Bank in local think-tanks make
> even more attractive for the general public what is one of the
> deepest and most sophisticated analysis of the policy process in
> democratic South Africa available to date.
>
> However there are also questions that are left open by Bond's book.
> The richness of details sometimes goes to the detriment of a more
> general argument to address the question: why did the neoliberal
> technocratic elite rise to prominence in the ANC and the government?
> In particular, which social forces acted, at the level of the ruling
> party, of the political system and of the class structure at large
> to facilitate that outcome? Why social contracts, rather than
> outright repression, were (quite effectively) used to that end?
> Bond's answer privileges the role of personality and expertise, and
> the ANC is debated more at a decision-making level rather than in
> its relationships with its constituencies. More could be said on the
> reasons why, for example, a powerful social actor such as organised
> labour became increasingly subordinate inside the Alliance's
> macroeconomic approaches. What was, say, the role of changing forms
> of employment and casualization in weakening trade unions' presence?
> Bond's admitted choice to focus at the big picture, leaving to the
> readers' sources the "micro-level experiences of the daily life"
> could be justifiable in a context that remains fluid and constantly
> changing. But, on the other hand, it is precisely at that
> micro-level that the current situation, with its paradoxes,
> inequalities and retreats, is largely accepted. The mechanisms
> through which this happens and the nature of the ideological appeal
> of the ANC, constitute important and untapped challenges for future
> research. Finally, much is left to further debates by Bond's
> conceptualisation of alternatives to the current socio-political
> order. His advocacy for going back to the "true", people-driven RDP
> based on decommodifying basic needs is supported by a climate that
> sees waves of anti-neoliberal social movements connecting on a
> global scale. However, the list of such movements, exhaustive as it
> is, leaves open two questions: who are in the specific South African
> situation the social subjects and the lines of conflict that can
> open a space for an alternative? What is the effective capacity of
> formal social movements to relate to these subjects? As episodes
> like the opposition to iGoli 2002 are showing, resistance to
> neoliberalism for a decommofied access to social rights is not just
> a matter of contesting interpretations of the RDP, but it lives in
> communities' radical struggles. Critical research on social change
> in South Africa has still to find new ways to relate to these
> processes.
Patrick Bond
email:  pbond at wn.apc.org * phone:  2711-614-8088
home:  51 Somerset Road, Kensington 2094 South Africa
work:  University of the Witwatersrand
Graduate School of Public and Development Management
PO Box 601, Wits 2050, South Africa
email:  bondp at zeus.mgmt.wits.ac.za
phone:  2711-488-5917 * fax:  2711-484-2729





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