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Rustomjee, Zavareh Zal Rustom (1993) The political economy of the South African industrialisation: The role of the minerals-energy complex. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis provides an original interpretation of the trajectory of South Africa's post-war industrialisation by emphasising the role played by the economy's Minerals-Energy Complex (MEC). The MEC is viewed as a system of accumulation, encompassing a number of core economic sectors and imparting a determining influence on the pattern of industrialisation and economic performance. The development of the MEC has been mediated by relationships between English and Afrikaner fractions of capital through the state, giving rise to a conglomerate form of private and public corporate structure, straddling the mining, manufacturing and financial sectors. By examining the MEC empirically, through primary and secondary material from the inter-war period to the present day, it is shown that past debates over the rhythm of industrialisation have been based, both on a false perception of the pattern of (import-substituting) industrialisation'and on a partial and even false recognition of how industrial policy has been adopted and implemented. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there was capability in capital goods and other industries in and around the MEC but their potential scope has not been exploited through coherent industrial policy. In the 1950s, efforts at diversification were hampered by the objective of creating large-scale Afrikaner capital. Foreign disinvestment after 1961 opened new opportunities for domestic investment, while the disjuncture between large-scale English and Afrikaner capital narrowed as the former assisted the latter to enter gold mining and as further interpenetration between the two occurred. Policies of strengthening the MEC followed the gold and energy price rise in the 1970s, while the crisis of the 1980s precluded policies of industrial diversification from being implemented. Consequently, the industrial structure and institutional impetus that represent the MEC continue to guide South Africa's industrial trajectory into the 1990s.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:16

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