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Getting it Right; A new economy for South Africa

Not only is South Africa in an economic rut, but high levels of corruption, patronage and state capture also means it suffers from severe institutional rot. This rot distracts attention from policy debates, while the accompanying political and administrative mismanagement creates policy uncertainty. Policy uncertainty and economic underperformance, in turn, lead to low investment. The result is low economic growth and high unemployment.

The first democratic government in 1994 inherited an underperforming economy with a broken labour system. Apartheid's labour system comprised a labour market that up to the mid-1980s suffered from the stifling effects of job reservation. It also comprised the Bantu education system and the Bantustan, and influx control system.

Within the first three years, the first democratic government introduced new labour legislation that modernised the South African labour market and protected worker rights. Democracy also meant that the Bantustan governments were abolished (although traditional chiefs were left in place) and the fragmented, race-based education departments were merged into a non-racial education system. But these reforms did not bring work and prosperity.

In his new book, Professor Philippe Burger explains why this did not happen. Central to this explanation is policy failure and patronage. He also sets out to explain the key problems inhibiting economic growth, job creation and a reduction of inequality and poverty, and discusses the actions that should constitute the government's policy agenda. These actions are intended to introduce the necessary structural and policy changes needed to put South Africa on the road towards prosperity and higher levels of employment.

Suffice it to say that South Africa needs a drastic change of direction if the country is to have a higher, more inclusive level of economic activity and a better livelihood for all.

Prof Burger will be joined by other leading economists for this discussion

Author: Philippe Burger

Philippe Burger is professor of Economics and head of Department at the University of the Free State. He was a 2016/17 Fulbright Exchange Scholar at the Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, at Columbia University (New York). From September, 2012 to October, 2014 he was president of the Economic Society of South Africa. He is also a member of the South African Statistics Council, which overseas the work of Statistics South Africa. His publications include three books and numerous academic articles on fiscal rules and fiscal sustainability, public private partnerships and macroeconomic and economic development policy. Together with IMF staff he also co-authored two IMF working papers. In 2009, the IMF also invited him to spend a month at the IMF as a visiting scholar. In 2007, 2010 and 2012, he was seconded to the OECD in Paris to work on public private partnerships and capital budgeting, while in October, 2011 he joined an OECD mission to Indonesia to conduct a regulatory review of Indonesia. He was a member of the Panel of Experts of the South African National Treasury, in which capacity he recently co-authored a 20 year review of South African fiscal policy since 1994.


Prof Adrian Saville, Chief Executive Cannon Asset Managers Professor, Gordon Institute of Business Science

Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES (Youth Employment Service)

Gugu Mtetwa CA(SA), Director of Companies

Zukiswa Mthimunye, GIBS Faculty

Additional Info:

Registration: 17:45

Starts: 18:00


A light supper will be served after the event.

Want to attend but can't afford to? email for one of the limited free seats available.

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  • Professor Adrian Saville
    Adrian Saville’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (cum laude), M.Com (cum laude) and PhD (Economics), which he completed at the University of Natal in 1997 and for which he was awarded the Economics Society of South Africa’s Founders Medal.  He is a UNESCO laureate and a matriculant of Linacre College (Oxford).  He has completed programmes in value investing and competitive strategy at New York’s Columbia University and Harvard Business School in Boston.

    In 1994, while completing his doctorate in economics, Adrian formed an investment vehicle which became the forerunner to Cannon Asset Managers which he founded in 1998.  In 2017 Bidvest Financial Services acquired Cannon Asset Managers. Today Adrian serves as Chief Executive at Cannon Asset Managers.

    Adrian has experience in managing all the major asset classes and has successfully combined teaching and business, having lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Pretoria, London School of Business, Kelley School of Business, Rotterdam School of Management and the Estonian Business School.  He has held a Professorship of Economics, Finance & Strategy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) since 2003, where he teaches in the fields of macroeconomics, investment finance and strategy.  Adrian has received the Excellence in Teaching Award at GIBS one ten occasions since 2007.  In 2012 he was nominated for the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Business Professor of the Year Award and in 2014 he received the Central and East European Management Development Association award in teaching excellence.  Adrian’s successful career has encompassed consulting widely to government and the corporate world, including serving as an economic consultant to Visa South Africa. He has presented to global audiences in many destinations, including Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Estonia, France, India, Japan, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, United Kington, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe

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