July 10, 2017

What does ‘radical economic transformation’ (RET) mean? It depends on whom you ask. The Free Market Foundation (FMF), an Atlas Network partner based in Johannesburg, is attempting to reclaim the term and make it a reality for South Africa.

Through a campaign of 10 press releases, FMF is providing policy alternatives “to effect real economic transformation,” according to Gail Day, executive manager of FMF. In the press releases, FMF tackles issues discussed at the 2017 African National Congress’ (ANC) National Policy Conference in early July, including communications, economic transformation, social transformation, education, health, science and technology, legislature and governance, and peace and stability.

The articles challenge the definition of RET that South African President Jacob Zuma and the ANC have been promoting. The campaign also throws into question the current form of centrally planned economic policy, which hinders economic growth by squelching innovation and competition.

“South Africa’s economic structure is that of a top-down, centrally planned economy … To radically transform from this would mean South Africa must adopt a bottom-up, free-market economy where individuals and communities play the leading role,” Day explained.

FMF also has a series of cartoons to correspond with each of the media releases.

Other campaign efforts include a virtual media briefing in late June on “The Secret of China’s Success — Innovation and Entrepreneurship” with Martyn Davies, Ph.D., managing director of emerging markets & Africa at Deloitte Africa. During the briefing, Davies discusses Chinese special economic zones and why South Africa should adopt them if it is serious about RET.

While the government and its supporters continue to offer up the same solutions, FMF is shining light on an alternative path to success.