Future of the ANC in four scenarios
‘African Lions” is the nomenclature given by some analysts to emerging African economies. The term is often compared to these countries’ Asian counterparts, the Asian Tigers. Adopting an economic path that follows that of the tigers is a model that many ANC reformists may wish to follow. After all, it is often argued that the Asian growth story is a riposte to Washington’s neoliberal policies.
This scenario is the best outcome the ANC can hope for if it wants to ensure economic prosperity, with the party behind a dominant state apparatus.
The African Liger scenario arises from an ANC that is able to engender party discipline. The party’s secretary-general position assumes greater significance, possibly necessitating that the president take a strategic back seat to this role.
From the strong party flows the mandate of building a developmental state assisted by highly educated and, crucially, politically aligned officials.
The state places itself to pick winners and losers in the economy, and, through aggressive infrastructure investments in selected zones and subsidies, it gives assistance to strategic sectors.
The objective is a strict regulatory framework, but, in return, business relies on policy stability, public infrastructure investment and a highly educated population to ensure productivity.
This model, whereby the African lion mimics the tiger, may still entail race-driven policies, as support of the dominant group is critical to sustained political power. A dominant party able to engage in long-term state planning is critical as a multiparty democracy with strong opposition parties places it in jeopardy.
This model is potentially a tale of economic prosperity at the risk of civil liberties.