Post-Covid Development Dilemmas: Debt and the Dream of a South African Developmental State (Part 1)

On the 8th of July 2020, the ANC’s Economic Transformation Committee released a discussion document entitled “Reconstruction, Growth And Transformation: Building a New, Inclusive Economy”. The document, described by the head of the committee, Enoch Godongwana, as the basis for a social compact, argues for the South African government to play a larger role in steering the tattered South African economy into the post-Covid global economic terrain.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s revised budget released in late June, states the cruel reality, “the main budget deficit, estimated at 6.8 per cent of GDP in the 2020 Budget, is now projected to reach 14.6 per cent of GDP”.

There is not much new about this vision:

The ANCs New Inclusive Economy recycles infrastructural spending towards greater localisation of production linked to export led growth.

Special Economic Zones an engine to stimulate growth

JOHANNESBURG – Covid-19 has become a pandemic that has reverberated across the globe. Its associated detrimental impact on economies has been felt far and wide, with serious disruptions in global value-chains and international trade being evidenced on a daily basis. In the South African context, Covid-19 is threatening to exacerbate the already entrenched socio-economic challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality … Read More

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the COVID-19 crisis

Coronavirus represents both a demand and a supply shock to the global economy. The key question is which assets are exposed most to shock and to the associated volatility? The BRI focuses largely on physical infrastructure that is declining as a priority. The shock has produced a significant stimulus to digital versus physical connectivity. The need for physical infrastructure declines … Read More

EarthCrimes – The dirty white elephant, Part Four: Caution, environmental hazard

By Sam Sole for amaBhungane The development of a coal-burning, water-guzzling industrial zone is a potential threat to the roughly 18-million people in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique who depend on the Limpopo river watershed. An introduction carried on the website for the Chinese-led “Energy and Metallurgical Special Economic Zone” (EMSEZ) in Northern Limpopo lists the range of heavy industries planned. … Read More

Earthcrimes: Limpopo’s dirty white elephant, Part Three: Limpopo – the weakest link

By Sam Sole for amaBhungane Conflicted Limpopo agencies charged with policing a proposed Chinese-run industrial zone are not up to the task. Exhibit A: the wildly skewed operator agreement. On 2 March 2017 an “operator agreement” was signed between the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and a Chinese company called Shenzhen Hoimor Resources Holding Company. The SEZ was represented by … Read More

EarthCrimes – Limpopo’s dirty white elephant, Part Two: The dodgy designation

By Sam Sole for amaBhungane How a Chinese company hijacked the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone. Documents obtained via an access to information request show that shady Hong Kong businessman Yat Hoi Ning boarded the strategic economic zone (SEZ) train without a ticket. An SEZ is a designated zone where there are special rules on tax, export incentives and other benefits to encourage investment … Read More

Earthcrimes: Limpopo’s dirty great white elephant (Part One)

By Sam Sole for amaBhungane Government’s plan to develop a R40bn Chinese-controlled energy and metallurgical industrial complex at the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone in Limpopo is founded on quicksand. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) outsourced the development and management of a coal-burning, water-guzzling, capital-soaking, heavy industrial zone in Limpopo to an obscure Hong Kong-based businessman, Yat Hoi Ning, who … Read More