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South Africa: coalition government won’t fix past failures

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South Africa: coalition government won’t fix past failures – expect the private sector to play a bigger role in delivering power, transport and security


To help save the planet, governments across the globe are choosing to adopt sustainable policies and encourage (or coerce) the private sector to do likewise. Given the climate crisis, most responsible governments are focusing on finding every possible means to meet existing needs without sacrificing the planet to meet the needs of future generations.


In South Africa things are different. Although the country has presented guidelines for a just transition to greener energies, this has not been out of choice. It’s been out of necessity. It is mainly due to the collapse of the country’s energy infrastructure, not government leadership or a change of mind among the coal lobby.


State-owned enterprises, specifically in electricity, rail and ports, are a legacy of the apartheid state and South Africa’s “post-apartheid” settlement. Being state-owned isn’t a problem, so long as an enterprise is run well. But in South Africa the government has failed to run them well. And failure in these areas has resulted in a turn to the private sector – either to help fix electricity, rail and the ports or to fill the vacuum in other ways.


Even where government has adopted sustainable policies, the private sector has become the major driver of this shift, further worsening inequality.


The problem with greater private sector involvement is the sector’s profit motive. Not only are private sector driven solutions only for those who can pay, they also end up driving public priorities. Thus, those who can pay also drive “development”, instead of government deciding in the interests of society as a whole (now and in the future). This is the reverse of how things should be.


This process of inadvertent privatisation takes the power to make development decisions out of the hands of the people’s representatives (government) and puts it in the hands of private companies. They are driven not by broader societal (even global) interests, but by profit and the interests of shareholders. This undermines democracy and disempowers citizens.


In addition, infrastructure failures have led to “degrowth” in South Africa. Degrowth is the idea that, in order to save our planet, economies must slow or even stop their growth, at least as measured in terms of GDP.


Development will continue to stagnate even after the historic 2024 elections.


Read furtherhttps://theconversation.com/south-africa-coalition-government-wont-fix-past-failures-expect-the-private-sector-to-play-a-bigger-role-in-delivering-power-transport-and-security-230812

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