The Africa National Congress (ANC) was the first party in South Africa to win under democratic elections. One of the major reasons of its resounding victory in 1994 was its promises to improve the living standards of majority to almost 85% of total population. From many problems which were facing South Africa, when combined formed a package of strategy known as Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) macro-economic strategy. The strategy was introduced in June 1996. Even though there has been achievement in some areas, from its overall goals it is a failure. Indeed, most of the Black South Africans are now worse off materially than they used to be during Apartheid. In additions, there has been vanishing of hundreds of thousand jobs and increase in the cost of basics such as food, water, and rents. Only minority are better than they used to be during apartheid.
Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR)
From different ideologies, not all failures are of its own doing .There is also claim that much of ANC failure are associated with its founders from South National Convectional party. However, this was not enough for “justification,” many of critics arouse from the ANC governance as the government of South Africa. Despite many oppositions and critics, once in power ANC government came up with tight monetary policy and orthodox Macroeconomic policy with the aim of deficit reduction all combined with trade liberalization. All these combined, they had a major purpose of facilitating growth, Employment and redistribution programme, the package known as GEAR. The target of GEAR, introduced in 1996, was to accelerate the economic growth with rate of about 4.3% programmed for 1996-2000.Towards mid-term of the programme; the GEAR achievements were below its target. According to Ludman (2004) this failure can be because of excessive rise in interest rate and fiscal contradiction, this is opposed to the idea of W. J. (2003) that it was because of unfavorable external factors.
Following five years of GEAR functioning towards the target of average 4.2 percent growth rate for 1996-2000, South Africa Ministry of Finance announced the carried out the analysis of the budget. Following the budget, it was determined that GDP had expanded at by 2.3% over the past two years, since ANC had took over in power. Moreover, from the budget it was determined that, GEAR, having functioned for two years after the end of the regime whose policies on economic growth sought to accrue the economic benefits to minority white men had marked little growth in equal distribution of resources. Although may differ with the observation perhaps because the growth with a slight improvement, there is need to consent that it was different with that of last decades of apartheid.
Looking back from 1980 through 1993, perhaps would give us insight in judging the achievements or failures of ANC. During this period, there were major problems in South Africa economy. Only four years of this period that the gross domestic product (GDP) raised .Moreover, only the year 1984 that marked slight improvement in annual average decline of (GDP) by one percent. This was associated with many problems in the mid-1990s. South Africa had become a largely demanding society. For instance, the industries were greatly affected poor agriculture from the conversation of peasant agriculture and migrant workers .From the destruction of peasant agriculture, many problems arouse such as permanent unemployment and poverty. These problems were more among the black Americans as compared to “White.” It was devastation that about 65% of the total population lived under poverty .Thuynsma (2012) also explains that there was a huge disparity between unemployment rises in South Africa as compared to the rest places in Sub Saharan Africa, where peasant agriculture is believed to be strong. The most striking problem was unemployment among the youths in South Africa. Comparing it with that in sub-Saharan Africa with about 11.9% and North Africa with 23.7%,it was a huge difference South Africa with whopping 48.1% cases of unemployment of all young people ranging between (15 – 24) of age .All this research was carried out by the South African Institute of Race Relations. From these problems, it necessitated prompt responses, some of them include, and increase of investment rate stimulates to modernize production and increase of economic growth rate.
From above definitions, the government, through GEAR policies aimed to bring about equality in the distribution of income, increased wage employment, better wages for those in employment and greater equality in the wealth, however there was no achievement. In fact, the economy of South Africa dropped by 5% and it was from this that ANC set broad framework .The primary goals of ANC since 1994 were therefore clear; to come up with new government’s social and economic policies. The first goal being economic growth little achieved during 1993-1995 with slight improvement of one percent as compared to negative rate of the previous years but below the population growth. During the period between 1994 and 1995, per- income did not fall; towards the end of 1995, there was per capita income increase outside the margin of statistical error.
The ANC’s political misfortunes
Looking at ANC’s misfortunes it would be necessary we look back to its founding to get a clear picture. Many at times ANC associate it is failures with 1908-1909 founders for they could not invite the representatives of ANC to convectional meetings or used to delay the negotiations whenever called upon. However, ANC is altogether accountable for crating the bad lack and its founders are not the first bad omen as they claim. According to Ludman (2004) perhaps Nelson Mandela was right when said, “Prepare for armed struggle immediately after the end 1952 Defiance Campaign.” In fact, if ANC representatives followed the advice, it would have won earlier because of its adversary (National Party) was not well prepared to withstand much of struggles and other form of resistance. The result of the party not heeding to the advice had far reaching consequences, by the time NP could consent to have conversation with ANC ,they were negotiating from the point of ANC weaknesses .Further, they continued to undermine ANC performance in their efforts to transform South Africa.According to Bond (2003), it is also failure of ANC to have negotiation settlement in 1993 that lead to 1994 elections. It would have been better if this conversation had happened in 1909 when both Africa nationalists and Afrikaner had been brought together by British, with the aim to rule South Africa nation together. Later the British conclude that, it would be better if the mining interests of South Africa were protected through policy of divide and rule, which GEAR strategies failed.
By the time National parties in South Africa had reached the agreement in sharing of powers ,South Africa Society had already gone transformation .This time both economic influence and political power had decreased ,economic muscle had also a minimal power. This marked the inability of ANC to bring about transformation in South Africa in making it equitable society and more dynamic. The 1994 settlement, created a political elite that was seen to control the state but not the economy. The previous elite, which used control both economy and the political power, was seen to lose grip in political power though it retained control of the economy.
This was seen as the mix up because, those in control of the economy would live in fear of being overtaxed or having their assets seized by the elite that controls the political power. In fact, the case in South Africa, through black economic process empowerment, usually compels the company owners to give some percentage of their assets to the political elite. The major benefit by the black political elite in the year 1994 was to have access of revenues from the government and distribute among themselves through corruption by giving high salaries. They were also seen to engage in redistribution of wealth, through free government services and social grants .Despite of inability to control the Nation productive resources, the ANC can be said to be far much lucky. Having came from industrialized Asia, the ANC government was able to achieve what we can call slight pain in wealth redistribution .Immense increase sale of minerals in Far East was also marked as one of ANC success.
In conclusion, there are only few signs of achievement of ANC in South Africa since it’s victory in 1994. According to Nell & Van (2003), even some that remained are reaching dead end. Although there is sense from above in ANC making great efforts to improve the society, only few progress can be marked through closer examination of progress based from employment by the government ,rise in wage of civil servants ,growth in credit and replacement of Afrikaners in the South Africa though emerging of middle class black Africans.
The weakness of the strategies used by ANC is that they are not based from windfall of profit from industrialization. Instead, they are accompanied with shrinkage of the employment in South Africa productive sectors .Therefore, looking at the ANC governments Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) macro-economic strategies, is a failure as compared to the unchanged conditions in South Africa. In fact, is a slight success it its goals has been achieved .As a result ANC’s luck is running out even from the protests from the service that have been happening some few years ago.
Bond, P. (2003). Against global apartheid: South Africa meets the World Bank, IMF, and international finance. Lansdowne, South Africa: University of Cape Town Press.
Ludman, B., & In Stober, P. (2004). The Mail and Guardian A-Z of South African Politics: The essential handbook. Johannesburg: Jacana Media (Pty) Ltd.
Nell, P., & Van, . W. J. (2003). Democratizing foreign policy?: Lessons from South Africa. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Thuynsma, H. A. (2012). Public opinion and interest group politics: South Africa’s missing links. Pretoria, South Africa: Africa Institute of South Africa.