In This Review

South Africa Pushed to the Limit: The Political Economy of Change
South Africa Pushed to the Limit: The Political Economy of Change
By Hein Marais
Zed Books, 2011, 544 pp

This book, by one of South Africa’s most prominent progressive journalists, is a thought-provoking analysis of the weaknesses and failures of the country’s leadership since the end of apartheid. After reviewing the ruling African National Congress’ record on economic policymaking, HIV/AIDS, education, and antipoverty measures, the book examines the country’s coalition politics and details the ascent of President Jacob Zuma in recent years. Not everyone will agree with Marais’ assessment that governance has suffered from the excessive influence of corporate capital. Although he concedes that policymakers have succeeded in some areas, Marais argues that barring an unlikely radical break with the tradition of corporate power, the government’s initiatives are doomed to have a limited effect on economic growth and people’s welfare. Perhaps as a result, the book offers few prescriptive solutions to the policy failures it identifies with passion and at great length.