Critical Thinking Forum

On 27 June 2017, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ hosted a Mail & Guardian Critical Thinking Forum on ‘Finding a developmental consensus in an era of radical economic transformation’.

The panelists and moderator were:

  • Dr Mzukisi Qobo, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ;
  • Prof Simon Roberts, Executive Director of the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development CCRED) at UJ;
  • Christopher Wood, an economist at the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) think-tank; and
  • Sithembile Mbete, lecturer at and Associate Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation at the University of Pretoria.

Background

A recurrent theme of this year’s edition of the IJR’s annual Transformation Audit is the need for two key social actors – business and the government – to pool their collective resources and forge a new consensus for long-term social and economic change. However, in the post-1994 South African context, the relationship between business and the state has been complex and multi-layered. Mistrust and misunderstanding between business and the government have deepened over time. On the one hand, perceptions persist that large South African corporates resist social transformation, and are not prepared to contribute towards addressing the structural legacy of apartheid. At the same time, rhetoric that espouses radical economic solutions, without putting substantive alternatives on the table, poses an equally perilous threat to the cohesion of South African society.

In light of this, members of the public were invited to a moderated discussion on the possibility of achieving a new social compact, implying a ‘consensus’, at a time when the word ‘radical’ is increasingly being used in relation to potential solutions.

 

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