South Africa

So what was the biggest question looming over South Africa in the 1990s? Under its new majority leadership, would South Africa:

  • Successfully compete in the global marketplace by opening up and liberalizing its economy?


  • Would it bow to short-term political pressure and seek to solve its social problems by embracing one-party rule and a rigidly planned economy?

Most observers, after close and often anxious observation of the behavior and rhetoric of Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC) colleagues, were leaning toward a qualified optimism that the country would—probably in fits and starts—adopt the former (and we believed better) path.

Political Football

As was true just about everywhere else, the economic issues and challenges faced by South Africa were heavily colored by political realities, which in this country basically meant racial and ethnic divisions. For the long-disenfranchised young urban blacks of the townships, radical rhetoric and radical policies appear to point the way to a better South Africa: an egalitarian, socialist utopia.

Fortunately for those who profoundly disagreed with this approach, one of the only upper-level ANC figures publicly proclaiming such radical methods and solutions was Winnie Mandela, the president’s controversial ex-wife, who enjoyed great popular support among the angry Young Turks but gratifyingly grudging respect, if any, from most other sectors of society.

Despite a history of espousing ...

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