, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 3-13

First online:

Neoliberalism and privatisation in South Africa

  • Sagie NarsiahAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, University of Natal

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Perhaps the defining characteristic of development as a global discourse is its neoliberal character. Even recently liberated nations such as South Africa have not escaped its reach. In South Africa, there has been a movement from a development policy with a socialist resonance – the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) – to one decidedly neoliberal in form and substance – the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy. The articulation of neoliberalism through development policy is being facilitated through a series of measures among which are fiscal austerity, export oriented production and the privatisation of public sector services. While the GEAR policy, as a macroeconomic framework, is being contested by labour unions it is privatisation which is facing widespread opposition among communities. My intention is twofold, firstly, to investigate how neoliberalism as a global hegemonic discourse has succeeded in capturing, colonising and repackaging the development imaginary of the African National Congress (ANC). Secondly, I wish to examine how privatisation as a sub-discourse of neoliberalism is being articulated in the historically black township of Chatsworth, in Durban.