While the depth and sophistication of South Africa’s financial and capital markets are lauded by indices the world over, South Africa is also considered to be the most unequal society in the world. The Economy On Your Doorstep probes the reasons for this tragic paradox of South African life and tries to go through and beyond the graphs, margin calls, trading updates, indices and earnings reports to explain how economic ‘actions’ frame the lives of South Africans in a transitional society faced with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The economy is and always has been primarily about ‘people’. How they live, what they produce, under what conditions and what social, political and environmental factors influence decisions of consumption, investment and distribution – and how they act under conditions of uncertainty, scarcity, need and crisis. After all, economies are about people coming together to produce, exchange, distribute and consume goods and services that emerge from their communities and those of others. How and under what conditions can we ensure the expansion of our productive forces, while expanding access to the base of assets, services and support that allow for the social reproduction of our entire society and workforce?
Ayabonga Cawe outlines some key areas that can and should define a policy agenda towards a ‘people’s economy’ in South Africa and the long-term objectives of such a policy programme, and engages with the political economy of 21st century South Africa through an analysis of a few selected areas of the economy and the implications of this for policy action. This is what this book is about – an exposition of what we see around us and an explanation and discussion of possible ways beyond it.
In this well-researched book, Ayabonga Cawe, a development economist, columnist and broadcaster, makes sense of the post-apartheid political economy through the lives of the many people who live and survive in it every day.