Start main page content

The character of capitalism in South Africa before and since democracy

- Deborah Minors

Professor Vishnu Padyachee in the School of Economic and Business Sciences at Wits holds the Derek Schrier and Cecily Cameron Chair in Development Economics.

The Chair in Development Economics fosters research into sustainable development and democracy, macro-economic policy and corporate transformation within the framework of South Africa’s transition on to democracy.

In his research, Padayachee explores four related themes:

  • Varieties of South African capitalism
  • New directions in central banking and monetary policy
  • South Africa’s great economic policy debate
  • Inequality, macroeconomics and capitalism.

“My research interrogates the meaning and nature of capitalist development in the modern world and in post-apartheid South Africa, based on the view that capitalism settles differently in each social formation with implications for national economic policy making. I examine the character of capitalism in South Africa before and since democracy and compare contemporary South African capitalism with other models of capitalism,” says Padayachee.

Increasingly Padayachee’s research will incorporate corporate governance under different models of capitalism.

The current turmoil in global banking and finance has raised questions about the objectives and role of central banks and the instruments of monetary policy.The role of central banks in modern economies has changed significantly over the past 30 years and will continue to change in ways which may well threaten the very existence and raison d’etre of these institutions this century.

The 'great economic policy debate in South Africa' refers to the evolution of ANC economic and social policy from 1943 to 1996. Padayachee’s research focus here is on economic history and political economy, and how this shapes contemporary policy choices.

“A component of this research is the publication of a manuscript that attempts to answer if it was this history that informed the policy choices of the African National Congress in the 1990s,” he says.

Padayachee envisages a study into the relationship and connection between inequality, financial stability, macroeconomics and capitalism. There is a dearth of research in this field despite evidence that global finance is a principal source of changing global patterns of pay inequality in most countries, both developed and developing.

Padayachee says, “Inequality studies need to be located within the broader frameworks of macroeconomics, financial development and capitalist trajectories to have real impact.”

Read more about research at Wits in Wits Research Matters.