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Terreblanche, Sampie (2002) A History of Inequality in South Africa 1652-2002. University of Natal Press & KMM Review Publishing Company: South Africa : 1-525.

In this major work - which took eight years to complete - Professor Sampie Terreblanche provides an analysis of economic relations in South Africa.

First, the book analyses the work of numerous historians on inequality and exploitation in South Africa around a single theme: the systematic and progressive economic exploitation of indigenous people by settler groups. This synthesis is presented in a highly original, striking and accessible way. Second, Terreblanche argues that, despite South Africa's transition to democracy, its society is as unequal today - if not more so - than ever before.

He claims that in the early 1990s, parallel to the constitutional negotiations, a series of informal negotiations and interchanges took place behind the scenes during which the local corporate sector, backed by the powerful international financial institutions, made a concerted effort to ‘sell’ unfettered capitalism to ANC leaders.

This attempt succeeded, resulting in the ANC replacing the RDP with GEAR. The situation of the vast majority of blacks has in fact worsened since the transition to democracy. For this reason, he considers that South Africa’s transformation is incomplete.

He sharply criticizes the corporate sector for its ruthless pursuit and protection of its own interests, to the detriment of broader South African society.

He also criticizes the ‘new black elite’ for its crass materialism and apparent indifference to the plight of the poor. In a final chapter, he argues that the current system of “neo-liberal democratic capitalism” is inappropriate to a developing country such as South Africa. He calls for a policy shift towards social democracy in which the state should play a more active role in alleviating poverty, redistributing wealth, and attending to social welfare.

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