Political Economy Course

Concept Overview:
The proposed 6-week Short Course on History of Economy and Capital in SA is aimed at providing youth leaders, students, community members, trade unionists and civil society activists with a foundational understanding of the rise and development of the South African economy. The course will be offered by ILAF as of 2017.

1. To trace the historical development of the South African economy using key case studies,
2. To introduce the student to basic economics history through non-specialised language
Socio-Political Objectives:
1. To create a space for young activists, students and community members to engage with South African economic questions in a structured fashion
2. To contribute towards and support the debates on economic freedom
3. To contribute towards the larger aims of ILAF

Course Description: The Short Course on History of Economy and Capital in SA uses several corporations (companies) as case studies to provide a historical overview of the development of the South African economy. It begins with the emergence of the Dutch East India Company and the context of merchant imperialism of the 1400s – 1700s.
The course shows how the arrival of the DUEIC was a function of the emergence of modern capitalism which created the conditions for settler-colonialism and early agrarian capitalism through the conquest of what would become the Cape Colony. It traces the shift from agrarian to industrial capitalism through the discovery of diamonds and gold and the subsequent rapid development of the Witwatersrand as the economic centre of South Africa in the 20th century.

The course demonstrates that in the first half of the 20th century the basis for unified white economic interests were laid through a combination of proactive industrial policies arising from the mobilisation of volk-nationalist sentiment by the Afrikaner bourgeoisie, the privileging of the white working class and the adoption of protectionist, highly regulated industrial policies. Through these measures – political, ideological and economic – we show how the South African state becomes an advanced industrial state which by the 70s onwards displays oligopolistic traits, leading to the dominance of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by a few conglomerates. As the most advanced economy on the African continent, a highly developed consumer goods and retail sector has developed in South Africa which both benefited from the low-wage mass Black consumer base whilst simultaneously constraining the development of certain sectors which led to the rise of the informal economy (e.g. taxi industry)
The final stretch of the course traces the economic crises and restructuring phases of the South African economy from the 1980s into the 1990s and the coming of democracy. We explore how ‘apartheid capital’ shed its bad image and re-positioned itself for global entry, while making some ambivalent concessions to the notion of Black Economic Empowerment. We explore development of new finance and investment instruments that have shaped the role of financial capital in our contemporary context.

Targeted Participants:
1. Youth political and civil society leaders and activists
2. Students
3. Community members
4. Trade unionists or members of trade unions

Participants will be invited by ILAF or an advertised call will be made through various communication platforms for individuals or organisations who wish to participate. These organisations will have to be in the local area due to the length of the course (See: 3-Day Workshop Alternative for Organisations)
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ILAF Programmes


The education programme incorporates the following:
The Bursary scheme
Nkululeko 1

The agriculture programme creates community based agricultural hubs in the following:
Poultry farming
Vegetable farming
3Youth Development
The youth development programme has three elements.
Youth Leadership Development
Entrepreneurship Development
Regeneration programme