FMF FEATURE ARTICLE
"Power to the people" means
economic freedom, not state paternalism
Writing in the 7 March 2021 edition of the Sunday Times, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan indicated that he believes well-run state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are important as the free market "is not a panacea for resolving economic and institutional challenges."
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa, more than 10 million people were unemployed. The average growth rate hovered between 1–3%, hardly scraping 4%. According to the 2020 edition of the Economic Freedom of the World (EFW) report, South Africa ranked 90th in the world, after a high of 58th in 2000. It appears that, after years of dedication to state controls and 'state-led growth' – with the concomitant government interventions in all facets of economic and social life – the much-promised prosperity has not been realised. My advice to Minister Gordhan would be: Despite this government's inability to trust in citizens' ability to create wealth and good lives without relying on the state, it might just be time to try a little bit of free market medicine – you’d be amazed with the results.