The odd meaning of ‘radical economic transformation’ in South Africa

The only thing radical about South Africa’s ruling party’s understanding of “radical economic transformation”, a commentator once suggested, is its use of the word ‘radical’. The comment was made a few years ago, when the African National Congress (ANC) was in the habit of using the slogan to describe very modest change. Now it’s back.

In his 2017 state of the nation address South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma brought back the phrase “radical economic transformation” causing nationwide debate. Other senior ANC politicians have done the same.

Have the ANC’s intentions changed?

To answer that, we need to understand why “radical economic transformation” is back on the ANC’s agenda. As with much of what happens in the ANC today, factional politics is a crucial part of the story…..more

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