South Africa in GEAR: `A better life for all' or a zero-sum game of globalization?
Author: Tsheola J.
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 57, Numbers 1-2, 2002 , pp. 15-28(14)
Abstract:State conduct of commerce with the rest of the world has always been important, rather than determinant, to domestic capacity to generate and distribute output and income. Theoretically, engagements of world commerce have included protectionism, inward-looking strategies, integration for interdependence, insertion for dependence, openness to imports and free trade regimes. For erstwhile colonies in Africa, the trajectory of engagement has seemed to be predetermined due to colonial-formation of their economies. As the model of evolution of Africa's external relations demonstrates, states in that continent have been inserted into the global system for dependent extraversion and adjustments. Attempts at trade and market liberalisation there have perpetuated openness to imports. Given that state of affairs, states in that continent have been eroded of capacity of domesticating globalisation for local socio-economic transformation. From a political-economy perspective, the paper views South Africa's Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy as an instrument of appropriation that is set to perpetuate that country's dependent extraversion and openness to imports. The paper uses the balance of payments to demonstrate that country's poor state of commerce with the rest of the world. It argues that as external trade and capital flows and investments, which are shaped through domestic economic policy, affect in return domestic capacity of transforming the structures of deprivation, GEAR has inaugurated a zero-sum game of globalisation, rather than `a better life for all'. We analyse several indicators of economic performance and social wellbeing to demonstrate the paradoxical operations and Janus-faced tendencies of globalisation and the attendant lack of transformation of structures of deprivation in South Africa.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2002-01-01