SOUTH AFRICA: AFTER THE MIRACLE ...
1994. 59 mins. World Bank and Newsgroup.
TOPICS: Economic development and reconstruction in pot-apartheid South Africa, economy, South Africa, investment, World Bank
USES: Instructional levels: U, G, A.
Basic economic concepts need to be discussed prior to showing the film.
A quick historical overview discusses the victory of apartheid as a collective achievement: interviews with Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk. Vignettes on the April 1994 elections and the outcome.
Comment on recovery of the economy after five years of negative growth. Interview with president of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Structural weaknesses in economy discussed: unemployment; lack of housing; crime; decline in fixed investment; problems in balance of payments, accent on the local market and policies of protection leading to uncompetitiveness and declining productivity, and finally lack of skills and problems of planned economy, etc.
How to revive private investment? The chairman of Anglo-American tells how. But majority still poor: how to create jobs and housing? People from across the spectrum are interviewed: from squatters to captains of industry. Mandela and Buthelezi talk of a process which requires patience.
Government needs to create conditions of stability and investment climate, bring down the budget deficit needed to avoid a debt trap. Mandela says that previous government overtaxed the population to support apartheid. Borrowings supplemented this. The contradiction facing the Government of National Unity is that it cannot increase taxes and cannot afford to borrow. Attraction of investments is the key, in order to expand the economy and reduce unemployment, says Mandela. Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) set up to improve quality of life in the context of a growing economy.
Minister Jay Naidoo explains the RDP, followed by Alec Irwin, Deputy Minister of Finance and others. RDP explained as an intersectoral socio-economic framework, not an economic document. For example, public safety, tax collection and economy go together. Minister of Housing, Joe Slovo, talks about housing as building communities and restructuring lives, and housing development kick starting the economy. The extremes of housing are shown and obstacles to the RDP are mentioned - like the thin pool of skilled labor available. Business is shown to be supporting RDP.
Options between open and closed economies are discussed in terms of the problems facing South Africa, investment and export-led growth. Jayradra Naidoo uses the Rainbow nation discourse that South Africans have been chosen by God to do some special mission never before accomplished. We are the Rainbow children - romantic and idealistic: the miracle now needs to be followed. The needs for a common loyalty and common purpose is concluded by Mandela as key to success.
South Africa; After the Miracle is a level-headed economic analysis of South Africa in the 1990s and the specific problems facing the country. The film, however, fails to point out that monetary policies espoused by South African politicians, including the Communist Party, are in-line with World Bank policies, and that these policies don't directly address the problems of the 40-50% unemployed other than by creating jobs, many of which might be beyond the skill competence of the uneducated unemployed black population.
The film is set in 1994, so policies have shifted. The RDP has been downgraded as largely a failure, because of difficulties in implementation. It was transferred to the Vice President's office. GATT has been accepted and its provisions applied.
The film is designed to reassure foreign investors that the new ANC-led government is working within the economic parameters set by the World Bank and its sister financial institutions. The film fails to mention the ANC's transition to capitalist policies from a semi-socialist nationalization imperative of its earlier liberation days. It also fails to mention that the apartheid government had largely nationalized vast sectors of the South African economy. It had tried to create a kind of national socialism, and thereby sowed the seeds of the demise of apartheid and a declining South African economic competitiveness. This is the sharp contradiction which faced the post-apartheid economy as it emerged from expensive self-sufficiency into a competitive global market.