Developing an Economic Blueprint

for South Africa

29 June 2020


The South African economy remains stubbornly sluggish. With this year’s GDP growth prior to the COVID-19 measures anticipated to be below one percent, debt to GDP rising to over 65 percent, and unemployment at a record high of 30 percent (narrow definition), and around 40% (expanded definition). The impact of the COVID-19 measures still have to be factored in with economists suggesting a GDP contraction of between 6 and 7 per cent. Imaginative thinking is therefore required to catapult the country out of its current downward trajectory. Simultaneously, the economy needs to be transformed in order to address inequality, to mainstream the informal sector and to become more demographically inclusive.


The Inclusive Society Institute is of the opinion that it cannot be business as usual. ‘Out of the box’ thinking is required, and non-conventional intervention considered. In developing a new progressive economic blueprint for South Africa, the institute wishes to bring all the economic role-players into a non-conventional environment of dialogue – thereby enabling a disengagement from formal mandates into one that encourages a free-flow of ideas. The composition of the dialogue would also weigh more heavily on economic practitioners, as opposed to academia & office-bound policymakers.


In guiding the dialogue few parameters will be set, but the outcome of the intended Blueprint for an inclusive growth centred economy is conditioned on the economy being demographically transformed, and providing sufficient safety-nets and cross-subsidiarity to ensure dignity for the poor.


In this first component of the project a panel discussion was hosted by the institute on Monday, 29 June 2020, via ZOOM. The objective of the seminar was to examine Japan’s post-WW2 economic development, the objective being to consider whether there are any lessons that South Africa can draw on from the path Japan chose. And to consider the applicability of that path within South African context and the modern global architecture.


The keynote presentation was made by Dr Katsumi Hirano, Executive Senior Research Fellow at the  Institute for Developing Economies (IDE) which is associated with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). Formally he was Vice President, JETRO.


Other panellists included:


  • Mr Theo Vorster, a well-known economist, TV personality and the Chief Executive Officer at Galileo Capital. He is facilitating the Inclusive Society Institute’s economic project.

  • Professor Tania Ajam, who is associated with the School for Public Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch. She is also a member of the President’s Economic Advisory Council

  • Mr Vusi Khanyile, Chairman of Thebe Investments and a director of a slew of public and private companies. He was recently appointed to serve on the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Council.  He is also the Chairperson of the Inclusive Society Institute.

  • Professor  Zweli Ndevu, the institute’s Deputy Chairperson. He is the head of the School for Public Leadership at the University of Stellenbosch.


The event was broadcast live via YouTube to invited guests from business, civil society and the ranks post-graduate students.