South Africa’s history is one of rapacious profit-taking by corporate elites at the expense of South African people and its environment. Whether it was the Dutch East India Company, Anglo-American and De Beers, or Lonmin, the rules of the game have for too long been set to enable extraction and profit-taking that has entrenched gross inequalities. These rules have been enforced with violence.
Today South Africans desperately need work given the legacy of apartheid and more recently of State Capture. However, the South African governments renewed push to appeal to global capital investment must be critically examined, particularly when it involves cutting regulation and the rules intended to protect workers and ensure that companies pay their fair share.
Alongside promises of reform and accountability, President Ramaphosa’s recent state of the nation address promised a business-friendly environment to support his ongoing investment drive. This was centred around the goal of moving into the top 50 in the annual World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report. South Africa currently sits in 82nd spot, but in the President’s words; “we will get there”. The Minister of Finance may well touch on this goal in his much-anticipated budget speech next week. But where would we be going if we moved up this list and why do we want to do it?